Rail and Rail Systems Principal Engineer

Level 7 Degree Apprenticeship (Railway Systems)

Start date
3 years (36 months) part-time
Course Type
Postgraduate, Taught

The Degree Apprenticeship will be paid for through your employer, there will be no costs incurred by you.

At the Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education (BCRRE), we are leaders in railway science and education. With over 130 academics, researchers and professional support staff, we deliver world-class research and thought leadership within railways, and offer an expanding portfolio of high-quality education programmes.

Our close relationships with the rail industry mean that our research and teaching draws in real-world situations and by studying in depth what is happening across the world's railways, we prepare our learners for the challenges of the future.

The University of Birmingham is the first higher education institution to offer deliver of Level 7 Degree Apprenticeships to the Rail and Rail Systems Principal Engineer standard. You can find details of this standard on the Institute for Apprenticeships website where the skills, knowledge and behaviours for the standard are outlined.

Degree apprenticeships involve close partnerships between the employer, the apprentice and the University of Birmingham to collect, collate and demonstrate the skills, knowledge and behaviours specified. The University of Birmingham will work with your employer to confirm you achieve all of these, with the educational element provided via studying on the MSc Railway Systems Engineering and Integration.

Why study this course?

  • The University of Birmingham has a reputation for high-quality, relevant and challenging railway engineering education towards accredited degrees.
  • This programme will support your application for Chartered Engineer status.
  • You will study the integrated programme towards MSc in Railway Systems Engineering and Integration or MSc Railway Safety and Control Systems.
  • Intensive, week-long blocks of study supplemented by tutorials, team exercises and visits.
  • Blended learning that allows you to apply your learning in the workplace immediately and uses work-based experience in your academic study, adding value in both circumstances.
  • The induction (primer) course introduces rail and rail systems and study skills to those who may not have recent experience of higher education. It does not bear credit and is usually approximately 2 weeks in duration, taking place in late August/early September each year.
  • 60 academic credits are taken each year. Both MSc programmes are accredited, and meet the educational aspects of the degree apprenticeship standard.
  • You will be employed in an appropriate role which will provide knowledge, skills and behaviours specified in the apprenticeship standard. Throughout the apprenticeship, you will compile a portfolio of evidence against the apprenticeship requirements, and which guides the discussion during regular tripartite meetings between you, your employer and the University. The portfolio also forms an element of the end point assessment.
  • The End Point Assessment (EPA) is an integrated assessment and comprises a work-based research project with a written report, a presentation to a panel of assessors and an occupational competence interview. The University will provide supervision and support for both the project and the preparation towards the EPA alongside employer supervision.

Accredited degree

This degree programme is accredited by the Joint Board of Moderators (JBM) comprising of the Institution of Civil Engineers, Institution of Structural Engineers, Institute of Highway Engineers, the Chartered Institution of Highways and Transportation and the Permanent Way Institution on behalf of the Engineering Council, as meeting the academic requirement for Further Learning for registration as a Chartered Engineer (CEng).


Each module takes place over an intensive week-long block and comprises classroom lectures, tutorials, team exercises, visit and assignments to embed and draw each element of the subject together. 


Integrated MSc Railway Systems Engineering and Integration

Integrated MSc Railway Safety and Control Systems

Core modules


50 credits in total for each pathway

P1 - Risk and Safety Systems Pathway core modules
P1 - Risk and Safety Systems Pathway optional modules
P2 - Risk and Safety Operations and Organisation core modules

P2 - Risk and Safety Operations and Organisation optional modules

P3 - Communications and Control Pathway core modules


The Degree Apprenticeship will be paid for through your employer, there will be no costs incurred by you.

All employers who have a payroll over £3 million pay an Apprenticeship Levy. They can use this levy to fund your enrolment on the programme.

How To Apply

You will need to apply for the Degree Apprenticeship through your employer, who will have their own selection criteria.

For all enquiries relating to this Apprenticeship programme please contact our Apprenticeships Team at degreeapps@contacts.bham.ac.uk

Our Standard Requirements

A good first degree in relevant subject or an equivalent professional qualification.

Subject to interview (and sometimes a special test) candidates without a first degree may be admitted onto this programme.

It will also be at the discretion of your employer whether you meet their requirements for the course.


The Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education boasts experts in railway engineering and systems, meaning you will be taught by lectures at the leading edge of their subjects.

Sessions will be delivered in intensive. week-long blocks of teaching.