Loughborough University
Leicestershire, UK
LE11 3TU
+44 (0)1509 222222
Loughborough University

Aeronautical and Automotive Engineering

Postgraduate study

student testing a car

Automotive Systems Engineering(MSc)

This course is aimed at engineers working in the automotive industry who wish to extend and deepen their skills and understanding of the field, as well as recent graduates who intend to start a career in the industry.

Though primarily aimed at product development engineers, the course offers significant value to those working in the manufacturing side of the industry and those who work alongside colleagues from product design in the context of cross-functional teams. Individual modules of this MSc can be studied as short courses.

The programme is very much one of technical engineering content, sitting in a systems engineering framework.

Key facts

  • Duration: 1 year full time commencing September / October each year.
    3 years part-time.

  • Entry requirements: Equivalent to a UK First or Second-Class Honours Degree in Engineering or physical sciences. Acceptable English language qualification. In exceptional circumstances, lower academic standards may be compensated by experience in the automotive industry. Part-time students must be sponsored by their employer to be eligible for the course.

  • Accreditation: The course is accredited by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.

  • Course structure and teaching
    • Students study three compulsory modules, three optional taught modules and carry out an individual project. In total the course comprises 180 modular credits, made up from 6 taught modules valued at 20 credits each, plus the project which is valued at 60 credits.

    • The course is mostly delivered as a series of block taught modules. An online study support system provides additional information and materials to facilitate learning and discussion. Full time students undertake a University based project and part time students undertake an industry based project.

  • Assessment: Examination, coursework assignments and project dissertation.

Course features

  • Incorporates a systems thinking framework, referring to product lifecycle, target setting, requirements capture and cascade, plus elements of business-related drivers for engineering practice.

  • Provides clear links between design and manufacture, for example presenting examples where manufacturing capabilities have a large impact on design and system robustness.

  • Develops advanced and specialist themes via the optional modules.

  • Expertise provided from industry-based specialists.

  • Individual modules can be studied as short courses.

  • The MSc course was originally developed in partnership with Ford Motor Company, and we continue to work closely with the automotive industry in designing, developing and delivering our courses.

Contact for general enquiries

E: aaepgadmissions@lboro.ac.uk
T: +44 (0)1509 227279

Compulsory modules

  • Project

 Optional modules (select six)

  • Body Engineering
  • Manufacturing Systems and Integrated Design
  • Powertrain Calibration Optimisation
  • Sustainable Vehicle Powertrains
  • Vehicle Aerodynamics (NEW)
  • Vehicle Dynamics and Control (for full time programme only)
  • Vehicle Electrical Systems Integration
  • Vehicle and Powertrain Functional Performance
  • Vehicle Systems Analysis

Body Engineering

Vehicle Loading

  • Design load cases (maximum braking, cornering and traction)
  • Lateral load transfer during cornering
  • Role of body compliance in lateral load transfer and vehicle handling
  • Suspension load calculations

Computational Continuum Mechanics

  • Fundamentals of continuum mechanics
  • Plate and lamination theory
  • Linear elastic finite element method
  • Non-linear continuum mechanics
  • The time dimension
  • Fatigue
  • Fracture

Vehicle crashworthiness

  • Traffic injury statistics.
  • Physics of crash injury causation and biomechanical tolerance of humans to crash forces.
  • Principles of Passive Safety (occupant protection).
  • General crash performance requirements for the car body structure. Structural crashworthiness for front and side impact
  • Integration of vehicle restraints and body structure for crashworthiness.
  • Real world challenges for structural crashworthiness

Powertrain Calibration Optimisation 


  • Principles of modelling: requirements, form of models, fitting and diagnostic methods; use of computer tools; methods for selecting appropriate modelling techniques; properties of algorithms and techniques used for model creation.
  • Design of experiments (DOE): statistical principles and methods including normal and Student's t distributions, analysis of variance (ANOVA); the methods, structure and progression of DOE; factorial, response surfaces and optimal methods.


  • Formulation of the optimisation requirement; principles of optimisation; selection of techniques and application of diagnostics; optimisation in practice.
  • Operating modes for engine and powertrain and the associated modelling and optimisation techniques.


  • Overview of calibration tasks for both diesel and spark ignition including the application of DOE, modelling and optimisation methods; techniques used for in-vehicle optimisation.
  • Application of optimisation to powertrain emissions including optimisation on the test bed and in the vehicle.
  • Principles of diagnosis: methods and algorithms; use of embedded models; use of observers and Kalman-Bucy filters.  Application of diagnosis methods to emissions controls systems and components.
  • Emissions legislation (performance and diagnosis); the consequential demands placed on powertrain technical solutions; methods used to develop powertrain solutions from legislation.

Manufacturing Systems and Integrated Design

  • Computer Control of Manufacturing Systems: The evolution of real-time control methods. The meaning and importance of standards, open systems and inter-operability. Hardware design and configuration including examples of decentralised control systems. Sequence logic design and programming. Communications, networking and the use of fieldbus based I/O systems.
  • Manufacturing layout; line-balancing; inventory management and control.Computer Aided Manufacturing Systems: CNC machine tools, the major types, axis labelling, design principles, operation of a controlled axis, types of machine tool, part description, programming.
  • Manufacturing Processes: Introduction to Manufacturing Processes related to the production of automotive components. Rapid prototyping, tooling and manufacturing systems, processes and practices
  • Integrated product/process development (IPPD) and systems engineering tools and techniques. Approaches to flexibility and modularity for both product and process. Application of some design to manufacture tools and techniques such as design for dimensional control, DFMA. The control of dimensional variation on assembly build through the methods of dimensional management including an introduction to dimensional variation analysis (using VisVSA or CETol). Case study presentation and work by way of examples of above. 

Sustainable Vehicle Powertrains

Introduction to Advanced and Alternative Powertrain Technologies and future technology road map

Advanced combustion engines:

  • Turbocharger: Fundamental theory and applications
  • Engine downsize: Performances and emission challenges
  • Advanced engine combustion technologies: HCCI, Miller cycle and other potential combustion concepts
  • Alternative transport fuels: Overview of the benefits and characteristics of alternative transport fuels
  • In-cylinder formation of pollutant emissions: Fundamentals of the in-cylinder formation of pollutant emissions from Gasoline and Diesel IC engines.


  • Batteries: Basic electrochemistry, charging and discharging, battery management for vehicle applications
  • Electric Machines: Electromagnetism, electromotive force, back EMF, commutation, magnetic circuits and materials, conductors, principle sources of losses, motor types, emerging concepts, efficiency, operating characteristics
  • Fuel cells: Chemistry, systems, management
  • Hybrid and electric vehicle powertrain integration: architecture, optimisation, modelling case studies.

Vehicle Aerodynamics

Introduction to Vehicle Aerodynamics

  • Relevance, systems engineering approach in aerodynamic development process, basic concepts, sign conventions, basic vehicle characteristics, aerodynamic design philosophies, Influence of aerodynamics on vehicle performance. Legislative considerations.
  • Origin of the aerodynamic forces: Pressure forces, skin friction, induced drag
  • General flow field around bluff bodies, front end flow, rear end flow, characteristics of basic vehicle geometries
  • Cooling heating and ventilation requirements, basic internal flows
  • Cooling system optimisation
  • Crosswind stability: Sources of instability, full scale and model test techniques
  • Surface contamination

Experimental techniques

  • Tunnel design, blockage correction, ground plane simulation, scale model testing
  • Methods of measuring vehicle drag on a test track: Coast-down and steady state test techniques.
  • Wind tunnel test methodologies, wind tunnel instrumentation, pressure measurements, hot wire anemometry, flow visualisation, PIV

Computational methods

  • Review of computational methods for vehicle aerodynamics.
  • Governing equations, Numerical discretisation, Introduction to turbulence and turbulence modelling, Boundary Condition Selection
  • CAD representation and grid generation, Post processing

Supporting fundamentals

  • Boundary layers and wakes, interpretation of aerodynamic data.
  • Origin of the aerodynamic forces: Pressure forces, skin friction, induced drag

Vehicle and Powertrain Functional Performance


Systems Engineering Overview: Introduction to Systems Engineering, contrast to component engineering, relevance to the modern automotive industry.

Vehicle Performance and Economy: Subjective and objective measures of vehicle performance, time to speed calculation - transmission efficiency, equivalent mass, launch from rest, wheel spin, gear change time, design of gear ratios, fuel maps, use of CVT, steady state fuel consumption, effect of engine type, simulation study in Simulink.

Transmission fundamentals:  Drivetrain components; clutch, synchromesh, torque convertor.


  • Thermodynamics: gases and gas laws, thermodynamic processes in reciprocating IC engines, open and closed systems, engine cycles.
  • Engine design and operating parameters, engine performance parameters.
  • Combustion: fuel and chemical equations, combustion processes in SI engines, combustion processes in CI engines.
  • Engine breathing and advanced valve-train-review of breathing theories, methods of characteristics.
  • IC engines modelling techniques.
  • Fundamentals of engine mechanics.
  • Dynamometer measurements, engine dynamometers, chassis dynamometer.

Supporting fundamentals: Review of Matrices, Laplace transforms, eigenvalues and eigenvectors.

Vehicle Dynamics and Control 

- introduction to modelling in the vehicle context
- modelling limitations
- use of signal analysis tools
- sources of ride excitation
- quarter vehicle ride model
- frequency response
- powertrain component modelling
- time to speed modelling
- objective testing methods
- vehicle test specification, data collection and analysis



Introduction to autonomous vehicle systems

  • Recent developments
  • System integration (sensors, actuators, communications, etc.)

Vehicle dynamics, control and simulation

  • Modelling vehicle dynamics and their environment
  • Classical and state feedback control
  • Computer based design and simulation in MATLAB/Simulink 

Autonomous vehicle path planning/following

  • Path planning principles
  • Path following algorithms

Sensor fusion and situation awareness

  • Kalman filtering methods
  • Vehicle localisation (position and orientation)
  • External environment sensing (object detection and tracking)

Autonomous functions

  • Applications and case studies

Vehicle Electrical Systems Integration

  • Vehicle safety and crashworthiness; use of passive and active safety systems
  • Requirements for vehicle electrical systems; analysis of circuits; basic design principles for electromagnetic compatibility; design principles for systems integration; introduction to vehicle electrical architecture; introduction to application of power electronics
  • Introduction to functional safety methods; principles of software design and application
  • Application of design methods to control of vehicle body functions
  • Introduction to state-transition methods.

Vehicle Systems Analysis

Vehicle Noise Vibration and Harshness

  • Single and multi-degree of freedom systems
  • Noise sources and transfer paths
  • Basic acoustics
  • Structural acoustics
  • Noise path analysis
  • Continuous systems
  • Signal analysis
  • Sound quality

Vehicle Braking Systems

  • Fundamentals of Braking Dynamics of single vehicles and vehicles with trailers.
  • Braking systems: Drum brakes, Disc brakes, actuation
  • Braking performance and friction material parameters
  • Advanced braking systems: Anti-lock, traction control, electronic braking distribution, stability control, brake assist, electronic braking control

Introduction to Materials

  • Structures, Processing, Properties of Metals, polymers and composites.
  • Application of materials in Vehicles.

John Rowland, Jaguar Land Rover

John RowlandMy name is John Rowland. I am a Module Team Leader in the Chassis Engineering Department at Jaguar Land Rover based in Gaydon, Warwickshire.

I lead a small team of Project Engineers and Analysts responsible for the design and validation of Suspension, Subframe and Powertrain Mounting systems for medium size SUVs.

I decided to undertake the part time MSc course because it was a great opportunity to gain a broader technical understanding across all key vehicle systems and I chose Loughborough because of its reputation within the Automotive Industry.

The standard of teaching and facilities are excellent and the course featured some impressive guest lecturers and speakers. I was especially impressed with the format of the coursework assessments in that they were very true to the reality of how issues are managed in the Automotive industry.

The course has given me a greater confidence especially when working with colleagues from different technical disciplines across our business. It was a highly enjoyable and challenging experience, I am very grateful to my company for the opportunity and I would definitely recommend it.

Vignesh Venkatesan, Jaguar Land Rover

Vignesh VenkatesanHaving recently completed my MSc course in Automotive Systems Engineering and graduating in December 2010, I am now on a work placement at Jaguar Land Rover specialising in the development and validation of occupant restraint systems in a virtual environment.

I grew up watching my father at work in his garage and was deeply inspired by the science behind the truck engines he worked with. I had no doubts about pursuing postgraduate education at Loughborough because of the University's reputation for academic excellence and its many awards for the student experience in particular.

The Department of Aeronautical and Automotive Engineering at Loughborough University has provided me with a first-class education, especially in terms of the state-of-the-art facilities available to us and the industry-relevant course content developed for the MSc programme.

Whilst studying at Loughborough I have also had the chance to train at the ECB National Cricket Centre. I’m passionate about cricket and I now represent one of the top teams in the county league, thanks to the opportunities I’ve had at Loughborough.


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