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Process Systems Engineering (MSc)

Course Description

Course Description

The MSc in Process Systems Engineering course has been developed to equip graduates and practising engineers with an in-depth understanding of the fundamental issues of process systems within the process industries. It provides up-to-date technical knowledge and skills required for achieving the best management, designing, optimising, controlling and maintaining of efficient process systems. The course is suitable for engineering and applied science graduates who wish to embark on successful careers as process engineering professionals.


Most industrial sectors are facing an escalation in competitive market conditions, dwindling resources, substantial increases in energy and utilities costs and the requirement to comply with the increasingly restrictive pollution control standards. Process Systems Engineering is a contemporary engineering discipline that emerged with the main purpose to provide the methods, tools and human capacity that allow industry to meet its needs by tying science to engineering.

Process Systems Engineering deals with the design, operation, optimisation and control of all kinds of chemical, physical, and biological processes through the use of systematic computer-aided approaches. Its major intellectual challenges are the development of concepts, methodologies and models for the prediction of performance and for decision-making for an engineered system. Process systems engineering approaches find significant application in a vast range of industries, such as oil and gas, petrochemical, mineral processing, specialty chemicals, food, pharmaceutical, biotechnological, water and energy industries.


The MSc in Process Systems Engineering is made up of four compulsory and four optional taught modules, a group project and an individual research project.

In addition to management, communication, teamwork and research skills, each student will attain at least the following outcomes from this degree course:
- Understand in depth the fundamental principles and state-of-the-art practices of process systems engineering.
- Apply effectively learnt techniques and methodologies to deal with industrial process systems challenges.
- Review and assess the technical, economic and environmental issues involved in the design, operation and control of process industries.
- Identify and appraise tools and techniques for modelling, simulation, optimisation and control of modern process systems.
- Effectively acquire and critically review information from various sources.
- Describe and appraise current research activities in selected topics in the area of process system engineering from a techno-economic and environmental perspective.

Part-time students are encouraged to participate in a group project as it provides a wealth of learning opportunities. However, an option of an individual dissertation is available if agreed with the Course Directors.


The taught programme for the MSc in Process Systems Engineering is delivered from October to March and is comprised of four compulsory taught modules. There are five optional modules to select the remaining four modules from. There is also an introductory non-assessed module (Introduction to Process Systems Engineering). Modules typically consist of five days of intensive postgraduate level lectures, tutorials or workshops covering advanced aspects of the subject being studied. Practical knowledge is further enhanced by additional seminars, delivered by invited industrial or academic experts, and industrial site visits.

- Process Plant Operations
- Process Design and Simulation
- Risk and Reliability Engineering
- Management for Technology

- Advanced Control Systems
- Process Measurement Systems
- Pumps and Pumping Systems
- Thermal Systems Operation and Design
- Computational Fluid Dynamics

Individual Project

The individual research project allows you to delve deeper into a specific area of interest. As our academic research is so closely related to industry, it is very common for our industrial partners to put forward real-world problems or areas of development as potential research topics.

The individual research project component takes place between April/May and August for full-time students. For part-time students, it is common that their research projects are undertaken in collaboration with their place of work under academic supervision; given the approval of the Course Directors.

Individual research projects undertaken may involve designs, computer simulations, feasibility assessments, reviews, practical evaluations and experimental investigations.

Typical research areas include:
- Design, simulation and optimisation of process or energy systems.
- Advanced process control methodologies.
- Instrumentation and process measurement systems.
- Multi-phase flow and processes.
- Renewable energy systems.
- Studies involving environmental issues.

Recent Individual Research Projects include:
- Optimization frameworks for the design and planning of oil and gas supply chains.
- Operational planning and maintenance of utility systems.
- Optimal design and planning of biomass supply chains.
- Inferential slug control of a U-shaped riser.
- Self-optimizing control of Tennessee Eastman plant.
- Design/simulation of a lab-scale fixed-bed reactor for CO2 capture-remove process.
- Effluent treatment system for a secondary pharmaceutical site.
- Condition monitoring in subsea engineering.
- CHP systems with Stirling power generator.
- Electro-chemical coolers for small-scale refrigeration.

Group Project

The Group Project, which runs between February and April, enables you to put the skills and knowledge developed during the course modules into practice in an applied context while gaining transferable skills in project management, teamwork and independent research. The Group Project is usually sponsored by industrial partners who provide particular problems linked to their plant operations. Projects generally require the group to provide a solution to the operational problem. Potential future employers value this experience. This Group Project is shared across the MSc in Process Systems Engineering and MSc in Flow Assurance, giving the added benefit of gaining new insights, ways of thinking, experience and skills from students with other backgrounds

During the project you will develop a range of skills including learning how to establish team member roles and responsibilities, project management, and delivering technical presentations. At the end of the project, all groups submit a written report and deliver a presentation to the industrial partner. This presentation provides the opportunity to develop interpersonal and presentation skills within a professional environment.

It is clear that the modern engineer cannot be divorced from the commercial world. In order to provide practice in this matter, a poster presentation will be required from all students. This presentation provides the opportunity to develop presentation skills and effectively handle questions about complex issues in a professional manner.

Part-time students are encouraged to participate in a Group Project as it provides a wealth of learning opportunities. However, an option of an individual dissertation is available if agreed with the Course Directors.

Recent Group Projects include:
- Waste water treatment process design.
- A new operation mode design for a gas processing plant.


Taught modules: 40%; Group project: 20% (dissertation for part-time students); Individual Research Project: 40%.
The taught modules are assessed by an examination and/or assignment. The Group Project is assessed by a written technical report and oral presentations. The Individual Research Project is assessed by a written thesis and oral presentation.

Career opportunities

There is a considerable demand for process engineering specialists with in-depth technical knowledge and practical skills. The industry-led education makes our graduates some of the most desirable in the world for recruitment by companies and organisations competing in the process engineering sector.

Graduates of the course have been successful in gaining employment in:
- Engineering consultancies and design practices
- Industry (oil and gas, petrochemical, chemical, food and drink, water and energy)
- Research organisations
- Central government departments
- Local governments
- Academic institutions.

Graduates have been directly employed by the following companies:
- Aramco, Saudi Arabia
- Bayer Crop Science
- British Petroleum (BP)
- DIT, Ireland
- Doosan Babcock
- Ecopetrol, Columbia
- Emerson Process Management
- Hidrostal, Switzerland
- GlaxoSmithKline
- M W Kellog
- National Iranian Oil Company
- Oceaneering
- Opal Telecom
- Petrofac Engineering
- Petroleum Research Institute, Libya
- Sanofi-Synthelabo
- Shell Petroleum Development Company, Nigeria
- Solutia Ltd.

For further information

On this course, please visit our course webpage - http://www.cranfield.ac.uk/courses/masters/process-systems-engineering.html

Visit the Process Systems Engineering (MSc) page on the Cranfield University website for more details!

(Student Profile)

Chukwudubem Nwana

Impressive international rankings for the course of study and its reputation as the only postgraduate institution in the EU attracted me to Cranfield University. Also, its collaboration with industry was an important factor.
It helped me to develop my knowledge of business operations and how this interfaces with engineering expertise. I now have options in the manufacturing and the energy industries, both of which are my preferred career choices.
I found the international environment, as well as the access to social and extracurricular activities and facilities such as tennis and Jujutsu classes, and trips to Cambridge and London, fantastic.

Chukwudubem Nwanah, Management Trainee (Supply Chain -manufacturing), Unilever Nigeria,
(MSc, Energy Systems and Thermal Processes, 2014, full-time)


Cranfield Postgraduate Loan Scheme (CPLS) - 20+ Awards

Cranfield University is now able to offer you a more affordable way to study an MSc with loans managed by Prodigy Finance.With a Cranfield Postgraduate Loan it is possible for you to take up your MSc studies with no repayments while you study. This will leave you free to concentrate on your course and enhance your career prospects.Launched in February 2014, the scheme is designed to support UK and EU students entering postgraduate study and is intended to attract those who may not otherwise progress to this level because of financial constraints.Loans of up to £15,000 are available (dependent on the tuition fees for your chosen course).If you are a UK student, loans are available for tuition fees and maintenance. EU students can apply for a loan covering only tuition fees.
Loans are repaid over a seven year period and repayments start six months after you complete your degree. As a not-for-profit scheme, funded by Cranfield and HEFCE, the loans are competitively priced (6.92% APR representative) and considerably more affordable than a standard career development loan.

Value of Scholarship(s)

Loans of up to £15,000 total


You can apply for a loan if you:• are domiciled in the UK or EU and qualify for ‘Home/EU’ fees and
• have an admissions offer to a Cranfield full-time, taught MSc course in a STEM (Science, Technology Engineering or Mathematics) subject

Application Procedure

If you already have an applicable course offer you can apply online through Prodigy Finance. You will need to provide Prodigy Finance with details of your offer from Cranfield. Your loan application will be considered and responded to within a few days.

If you are yet to secure an offer of a place you can register your interest in the scheme and we will keep you up-to-date.

Further Information


Entry Requirements

A first or second class UK Honours degree (or equivalent) in a engineering or applied science discipline. Other recognised professional qualifications or several-years relevant industrial experience may be accepted as equivalent; subject to approval by the Course Directors.

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