Dr Bruce Elliott

Department of Electronic, Electrical and Systems Engineering
Associate Professor, Rail Systems

Contact details

The School of Engineering
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

I am a member of the School of Engineering delivering post-graduate education in railway engineering both as standalone programmes and as part of degree apprenticeships.


  • Chartered Systems Engineering Professional, 2015
  • PhD in Engineering, University of Birmingham, 2014
  • Chartered Engineer, 2004
  • BA in Mathematics (subsequently converted to MA), University of Cambridge, 1980


I joined the University in 2021 after a 40 year career in industry as a software engineer, systems safety engineer and systems engineer, mostly in the rail sector.


  • I am convenor of MSc programme in Rail Systems Engineering and Integration
  • I am leader of  the Systems Engineering and Ergonomics module
  • I lecture on other modules within the Rail Systems Engineering and Integration programme
  • I am industrial supervisor to degree apprentices on the level 7 Rail and Rail Systems Principal Engineer programme


Research interests

I am interested in improving the outcomes of large rail projects. I believe that there is significant scope for improvement. In my PhD research I looked at ‘change latency’ which is the lag between having sufficient information available to be able to see that a change of direction on an engineering project is desirable and actually taking a decision to make that change. My PhD research showed that change latency could be very high on rail projects (years. As the cost of making a change is known to escalate with delay and the cost of change is known to be a significant proportion of the cost of engineering projects, this all suggests that taking steps to reduce change latency could save a lot of money. My research also suggested that systems engineering has the potential to reduce change latency but that there are limits to what can be achieved with systems engineering alone. 

Current projects

I am technical advisor to the following projects:

  • RSSB Opportunities to improve testing and validation practices OTH-FTT 200131
  • RSSB Project T1315 Future system assurance for the 21st century digital railway
  • Network Rail T190+ Effective Engineering Assurance

Other activities

  • Member of the organising committee for the INCOSE UK Rail Interest Group
  • Review for applications for Chartered Systems Engineering Professional status


Elliott, B. (2014) The Benefits of Adopting Systems Engineering Approaches on Rail Projects, PhD thesis, University of Birmingham, April 2014

Elliott, B., Schmid F., Shannon I. (2014) The seven myths of railway systems engineering, Railway Gazette International, September 2012

Elliott, B., O’Neil A., Roberts C., Schmid F., Shannon I. (2012)Overcoming Barriers to Transferring Systems Engineering Practices into the Rail Sector, Systems Engineering, Volume 15, Issue 2, Summer 2012

Elliott, B., Panter G. (2010) An Initiative to Strengthen Guidance on the Systems Engineering of Systems which are Already in Service: First Progress Report, Proceedings of the INCOSE International Symposium, Chicago, July 2010

Elliott B., (2007) Yellow Book 4, IRSE News, Issue 130 December 2007 / January 2008

Elliott, B. et al (2008) Getting the Message Across - Creating Accessible Guides to Promote the Adoption of Systems Engineering Good Practices, Proceedings of the INCOSE International Symposium, Utrecht, July 2008

Elliott, B. (2003) Creating an Environment for Making Better Decisions about System Safety, Proceedings of the 21st International System Safety Conference, Ottawa, August 2003

View all publications in research portal