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Railway Systems Engineering and Integration - MSc/PGDip/PGCert

Railway businesses rely on advanced technical and operational systems to carry vast numbers of passengers in densely populated areas and large quantities of goods over long distances, economically, safely and in a timely manner. The taught postgraduate programme in Railway Systems Engineering and Integration has a strong focus on developing postgraduates’ railway engineering knowledge and know-how, their systems integration skills and their understanding of the complex interactions between subsystems. It develops participants’ ability to work in multi-disciplinary project teams and is strongly supported by railway practitioners. 

Graduates of the programme design, build, operate and manage successfully the sophisticated subsystems and complex interfaces characterising existing and new railways. The full-time programme comprises 8 classroom taught modules and 2 coursework modules, scheduled over a period of 8 months. Part-time students follow the same syllabus as full-time students but complete the taught modules in a sequence that best suits their work-commitments. The MSc strand requires the submission of a dissertation that is based on a significant amount of independent research.

  • Application deadline for full time study is 31st May
  • Application deadline for part time study is 30th June

Course details

This programme is designed to provide the knowledge, knowhow and skills required to design and manage successfully the highly specialised subsystems and complex interfaces that characterise existing and new railways. The programme has a strong focus on developing your railway engineering knowledge, system integration skills and your ability to work in focused project teams. 

Many participants are experienced railway engineers and managers, sponsored by their employers, but the programme also allows new entrants to the railway industry to familiarise themselves with the specialist disciplines involved in railway systems engineering, while also gaining an insight into the complex interactions between subsystems.

The 3 week Terminology and Communications for Railways course provides those with less experience with key information and prepares them for their forthcoming studies.

The taught part of the programme is built around 8 assessed modules of 10 credits each, 2 coursework modules attracting 20 credits each, totalling 120 credits, suitable for PG Diploma and MSc candidates. MSc students also undertake an integrating project that leads to a dissertation, attracting 60 credits, all at Masters level. The modules are assessed individually to allow flexible study. 

Technology oriented modules cover the principles of rolling stock design, railway traction systems, infrastructure and track systems, railway control systems, as well as systems engineering principles. 

Management focused modules complement the range of subjects taught in the technology-oriented modules and include the strategic management of railway operations, railway technology strategy and economics, as well as ergonomics and human factors. 

Modules include lectures, tutorials, team exercises and industrial visits. The programme also features a European study tour.

Distance-learning Study Mode

The distance-learning mode involves attendance in Birmingham only for the taught weeks over a period of 2-3 years. This means you can combine work with study and visit Birmingham 5 or 6 times for periods of, typically 3 weeks at a time.

  • There are 2 visits of three weeks in the first year (usually in October and January) and 2 visits of three weeks in the second year (usually in November and February) each allowing attendance on two taught modules with a week of independent study in between. In the second year there is also a one week visit for the European Study Tour (usually in May) and there is a discretionary visit in the third year to put the final touches to the dissertation.
  • You will have a substantial amount of homework, assessed by means of assignments, and your exams may be available in your home country.
  • There are a number of people from Australia, Hong Kong and Singapore who have successfully completed the programme on this basis.

Related links

Learning and teaching

The Rail Systems Engineering and Integration programme is built around eight taught modules and four coursework based modules of 10 credits each and an individual research project attracting 60 credits. Each taught module involves about 27 hours of teaching, 10 hours of tutorials, a major team exercise and a minor assignment. Each research module involves about 60 hours of independent study to complete two major assignments. 

The assessment of students’ learning is based on class tests, coursework, presentations and end of year examinations. All modules are assessed individually to allow flexible study.

For students participating via part-time or distance-learning mode, the reserach project may be taken in their employer's company.


Our graduates go on to design, build, operate and successfully manage the sophisticated subsystems and complex interfaces characterising existing and new railways. Many of our graduates now occupy senior positions around the world in the railway industry.

University Careers Network

Preparation for your career should be one of the first things you think about as you start university. Whether you have a clear idea of where your future aspirations lie or want to consider the broad range of opportunities available once you have a Birmingham degree, our Careers Network can help you achieve your goal.

Our unique careers guidance service is tailored to your academic subject area, offering a specialised team (in each of the five academic colleges) who can give you expert advice. Our team source exclusive work experience opportunities to help you stand out amongst the competition, with mentoring, global internships and placements available to you. Once you have a career in your sights, one-to-one support with CVs and job applications will help give you the edge.

If you make the most of the wide range of services you will be able to develop your career from the moment you arrive.

Visit the Railway Systems Engineering and Integration - MSc/PGDip/PGCert page on the University of Birmingham website for more details!






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