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Study automotive, aerospace, Formula 1 and defence related structures

Lightweight Structures and Impact Engineering MSc

Course code


Start date


Placement available

Mode of study

1 year full-time

2 years part-time

24 months full-time with placement



UK £13,750

International £25,000

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Brunel University London provides this world-leading MSc degree with NSIRC scholarships available for September 2024.  It is now also available as a Master's by Research degree (MScR), with increased flexibility, read full details here

Delivered near Cambridge at the National Structural Integrity Research Centre (NSIRC), Brunel's unique Lightweight Structures and Impact Engineering master's focuses on preparing you to design and analyse advanced lightweight structures to support carbon reduction targets for transportation, offshore, marine and defence sectors. The programme is tailored toward the interests and expertise of aerospace and automotive engineering graduates.

In reducing structural weight, it is essential not to compromise safety, as structural integrity and impact response under extreme loading become key design drivers. As new simulation and material technologies emerge, there is a continuing need for CAE specialists to competently work across several engineering disciplines. With over 15 years' experience providing graduates to industry, this degree programme targets two key areas:

  • Understanding the linear and non-linear material and structural response over different operating conditions, which may include large or rapid deformation, failure (static and transient), and high strain rate loading (inertial effects, wave propagation and shockwaves).
  • Providing specialist training and competency in advanced simulation methods (mesh-based and meshfree) and application to lightweight structural design.

Students will graduate with in-depth knowledge and expertise in areas such as predicting material failure, design of automotive crash protection systems, aircraft ditching, bird strike ingestion, drone impacts, wave impacts on off-shore structures and assessing ballistic performance.

Key features:

  • Prestigious scholarships available
  • Industry based programme delivered at NSIRC (Cambridge), providing access to specialist equipment and CPD training opportunities through TWI (CSWIP)
  • Internship and placement options
  • NAFEMS accredited Finite Element Analysis training
  • Aligned with Engineering Council accreditation
  • Taught in condensed blocks to support full-time/part-time study
  • Industry-led dissertation projects
  • Significant networking opportunities through direct contact with the industry at NSIRC and contribution to NSIRC annual PhD conference
  • Laptop provided with full access to engineering software for the duration of your studies

The College of Engineering, Design and Physical Sciences & TWI are offering the NSIRC scholarship for Home, EU and Overseas fee paying students starting the full-time MSc  in September 2023.

Click here to download the course brochure 

Click here to read about the new Master's by Research study mode.

NAFEMS Approved module logoa
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Course content

The course is delivered in blocks usually across two weeks. Plus, you'll benefit from extra tutorial support via timetabled self-study time.

A formative study block in structural mechanics and stress analysis supports those who may not have a direct mechanical engineering background.

Working in groups encourages personal responsibility of learning to achieve a collaborative goal. The group design project is student-led and supported by industry. It not only develops your ‘soft’ skills in communication, problem-solving, planning, and project management, but also gives you experience in dealing with the complexities of working within a design team.

You’ll have the opportunity to undertake an internship or placement after completion of the taught modules and your dissertation.

This course can be studied 1 year full-time, 2 years part-time or 24 months full-time with placement, starting in September.

Year 1

This course has a placement option. Find out more about work placements available.

Please note that all modules are subject to change.

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Careers and your future

Graduates of this course have found employment in many global organisations such including Jaguar Land Rover, Aston Martin, McLaren, and Rolls-Royce.  With an MSc in Lightweight Structures and Impact Engineering you'll be equipped with the knowledge and skills required by leading employers in the transportation, offshore and defence sectors. The training you'll receive in advanced simulation in different operating conditions is highly desirable across a range of industry sectors .

Our graduates are extremely well placed to take up employment, as:

Research and Development Engineer

  • Manage, or contribute to industry-relevant research or development in areas concerning engineering structures

Design and Development Engineer

  • Design and develop engineering solutions, covering: safety engineering (crashworthiness and impact protection); structural integrity; structural analysis; stress analysis

Also, we have graduates who take up doctoral training. They enjoy working and networking in a professional environment and continue their education through PhD study within NSIRC.

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UK entry requirements

A 2:2 (or above) UK Honours degree or equivalent in Mathematics, Physics, Computing or an Engineering discipline*.

Engineering disciplines include: Mechanical, Civil, Automotive, Aerospace and Materials Science.

*Applicants with alternative qualifications and / or relevant work experience are recommended to apply.



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EU and International entry requirements

If you require a Tier 4 visa to study in the UK, you must prove knowledge of the English language so that we can issue you a Certificate of Acceptance for Study (CAS). To do this, you will need an IELTS for UKVI or Trinity SELT test pass gained from a test centre approved by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) and on the Secure English Language Testing (SELT) list. This must have been taken and passed within two years from the date the CAS is made.

English language requirements

  • IELTS: 6 (min 5.5 in all areas)
  • Pearson: 59 (59 in all sub scores)
  • BrunELT: 58% (min 55% in all areas)
  • TOEFL: 77 (min R18, L17, S20, W17) 

You can find out more about the qualifications we accept on our English Language Requirements page.

Should you wish to take a pre-sessional English course to improve your English prior to starting your degree course, you must sit the test at an approved SELT provider for the same reason. We offer our own BrunELT English test and have pre-sessional English language courses for students who do not meet requirements or who wish to improve their English. You can find out more information on English courses and test options through our Brunel Language Centre.

Please check our Admissions pages for more information on other factors we use to assess applicants. This information is for guidance only and each application is assessed on a case-by-case basis. Entry requirements are subject to review, and may change.

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Fees and funding

2024/25 entry


£13,750 full-time

£6,875 part-time

£1,385 placement year


£25,000 full-time

£12,500 part-time

£1,385 placement year

More information on any additional course-related costs.

Fees quoted are per year and are subject to an annual increase. 

See our fees and funding page for full details of postgraduate scholarships available to Brunel applicants.

Scholarships and bursaries

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Teaching and Learning

How the course will be delivered

Required equipment

How you'll learn on your course

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Assessment and feedback

Applied assessments and examinations help prepare you to successfully submit your individual dissertation. You’ll be given opportunities for experiential learning in project management and working individually (and as a team) on an initially unfamiliar problem to improve your communication skills.

You will develop your communication skills through technical report writing, oral and poster presentations.

Read our guide on how to avoid plagiarism in your assessments at Brunel.