Railway Systems Engineering and Integration Masters/MSc/Diploma/Certificate

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 of classroom taught modules and 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

Please be reassured that the vote to leave the European Union does not mean there will be any immediate material change to the UK university sector's participation in EU programmes such as Erasmus and study abroad programmes. Visit our EU Referendum information page for more information.

Zoltan David

Zoltan David

MSc Railway Systems Engineering and Integration

“Today is a very exciting time to work in railways. With decision makers realising the importance of sustainability, and the significance of railways in achieving a sustainable transportation system, railway projects will most likely be on the rise around the world in the coming decades. The Railway Systems Engineering and Integration course prepares you for a truly global engineering career in railways. ”

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. 

Dr Stephen Kent talks about the course

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

Why study this course

  • Gain a thorough understanding of the principles involved in developing, designing and operating modern railway systems
  • Deepen your understanding of the issues Railway Systems Engineering and Integration MSc/PGDip/PGCert involved in managing the interface between existing and new railway systems
  • For applicants with limited railway experience the three-week introductory course in Terminology and Communication for Railways sets the scene and familiarises you with the components and terminology of the railway system
  • Technology modules cover principles of rolling stock design, railway traction systems, infrastructure and track systems, railway control systems and systems engineering
  • Management modules include strategic management of railway operations, railway technology strategy and economics, and ergonomics and human factors
  • Accredited as meeting the requirements for Further Learning for a Chartered Engineer (CEng) for candidates who have already acquired an Accredited CEng (Partial) BEng(Hons) or an Accredited IEng (Full) BEng/BSc (Hons) undergraduate first degree. See www.jbm.org for more information.

Why Birmingham?

BCRRE is Europe’s largest Railway-focussed research and education group. Projects involve fundamental and applied research in railway science, technology and business. BCRRE is privileged to work with many colleagues from the railway industry who regularly contribute seminars and talks. Not only do these enrich and embed your learning, they provide excellent opportunities for networking with others in the industry.

We have extensive laboratories and facilities both on and off our campus for carrying out research in railway engineering. Recently we have commissioned a wind tunnel and a loading rig of three half-sleepers for undertaking near full-scale investigations into railway track foundations. We also have an aerodynamic moving-model testing facility for high-speed trains.


This course comprises taught and research elements. You will take the three-week Terminology and Communication for Railways course from late August, followed by eight assessed taught modules and two assignment based modules during the Autumn and Spring semesters. Over the summer you carry out your research project to complete the MSc.

If you have sufficient railway industry experience, attendance at the three-week introductory course may not be required. Please contact us to discuss.

  • Terminology and Communication for Railways – non credit bearing (see below for details)
  • Strategic Management of Railway Operations – 10 credits (compulsory for PGCert)
  • Railway Rolling Stock Systems Design – 10 credits
  • Railway Traction Systems Design – 10 credits
  • Systems Engineering & Integration for Dependability – 10 credits
  • Railway Infrastructure and Track Systems – 10 credits
  • Train Control Systems Engineering – 10 credits
  • Railway Economics and Technology Management – 10 credits
  • Ergonomics and Human Factors for Railways – 10 credits
  • Railway Systems Synthesis coursework based modules – 2 x 20 credits (one module is compulsory for PGCert)
  • Individual research project – 60 credits

Timetable 2018/19 (pdf 220 KB)

About the introductory Terminology and Communication for Railways course:

This 3-week course will provide broad-based supplementary learning on railway technical vocabulary and specialist communications and is aimed at students with no or limited knowledge or experience of the railway industry. It will familiarise you with the components of the railway system and its terminology and will enhance your technical communication skills. Completion of the introductory course will ensure you are well-prepared for the technical content of this demanding programme and help you gain the most out of your year of study.

Topics covered include railway components and subsystems, railway-specific terminology and concepts of railway safety and risk. This introduction is given context with site visits and group exercises. This course will not count towards the MSc but there will be an informal assessment at the end of the course, which indicates your relative strengths and weaknesses in each of the technical areas and which, in turn, enables tailored tutorial support throughout your study.

Your experience and familiarity with railway systems will be assessed during the application stage. If you possess sufficient knowledge it is possible that you will not need to attend this element of the programme. 

Please note: The modules listed on the website for this programme are regularly reviewed to ensure they are up-to-date and informed by the latest research and teaching methods.

Fees and funding

Annual Tution Fees 2019/20

UK and EU

  • with Integrated Presessional Programme (55 weeks) - MSc full-time £16,530
  • without Integrated Presessional Programme - MSc full-time £11,580


  • with Integrated Presessional Programme (55 weeks) - MSc full-time £21,840
  • without Integrated Presessional ProgrammeMSc full-time £15,120

Mathematics Module 

  • LMR20 (3 days): £225, includes lunches and one evening meal.

Continuous Professional Development ( PG Affliate Programme Code 6542) 

Individual modules are available for CPD.  See CPD pages for further information or contact Joy Grey.

Learn more about fees and funding.

Scholarships and studentships

We offer a range of postgraduate scholarships for taught programmes and research opportunities to ensure the very best talent is nurtured and supported at postgraduate level.

Additional scholarships can be found in the funding database.

Contact the department for further information.

TEH Automotive Scholarship for Malaysian students

This Scholarship has been made possible by a generous donation from Dato Robert Tan Eng Hwa, (BCom, Industrial Economics & Business Studies, 1977), the Chief Operating Officer of APM Automotive Holdings Berhad. Learn more about the TEH Automotive Scholarship.

Entry requirements

A 2:1 Honours degree in a relevant subject (eg, Engineering, Physics, Economics or Mathematics). Practical experience will also be taken into account. If you have no or limited industry experience you will be required to attend the introductory course. Please contact Joy Grey to discuss entry requirements. Learn more about entry requirements

International students

We accept a range of qualifications from different countries – learn more about international entry requirements. Standard English language requirements apply.

How to apply

International students requiring visas

Monday 01 July 2019 is the application deadline for international students who require a visa to study in the United Kingdom. We are not able to consider applications for 2019 made after this date; a new application should be made for 2020. Applications will reopen for 2020 in October 2019. We will close applications as soon as the programme is full, early applications are encouraged.

UK/EU (non-Tier 4) students

The application deadline is Friday 20 September 2019. Applications will reopen for 2020 on Monday 30 September 2019.

Before you make your application

You may wish to register your interest with usto receive regular news and updates on postgraduate life within this Department and the wider University.

Making your application

When clicking on the Apply Now button you will be directed to an application specifically designed for the programme you wish to apply for where you will create an account with the University application system and submit your application and supporting documents online. Further information regarding how to apply online can be found on the How to apply pages

Apply now

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.

Each taught module takes place over an intensive week-long block and comprises classroom lectures, tutorials, team exercises, visits and assignments to embed and draw each element of the subject together. The Railway Systems Synthesis modules further consolidate your knowledge to provide a rounded education in railway systems. A several-day European study tour, which brings application to your learning, is also part of the MSc programme.

The course is taught in intensive, week-long blocks so it is possible to combine work and part-time or distance-learning study from anywhere in the world. Individual modules may be also taken for continuous professional development.

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.

Professional accreditation

Accredited as meeting the requirements for Further Learning for a Chartered Engineer (CEng) for candidates who have already acquired an Accredited CEng (Partial) BEng(Hons) or an Accredited IEng (Full) BEng/BSc (Hons) undergraduate first degree. 

See www.jbm.org.uk for further information.