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Structural Engineering MSc

Enquire now Apply full–time Subject area: Civil Engineering
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1 year full-time

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Study location

Brunel University London campus

Postgraduate Open Evening: 23 January 2019

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Postgraduate Loans: From 1 August 2018 , students who live in England will be able to apply for a Postgraduate Loan in academic year 2018/19 of up to £10,609. Find out more

About the course

Structural engineers help to make, shape and maintain the built environment. They are professionals who enjoy innovation, a challenge, opportunities, responsibility and, excitement in a varied and very satisfying career.

The MSc programme in Structural Engineering is designed to attract both international and home students, who wish to pursue their career in civil and structural engineering. To meet the increasing demand for structural engineers to design more safe, economic and environmental friendly buildings, the programme content has specifically been designed to give a thorough grounding on current practice with regards to dealing with structural fire and earthquake resistances and design of carbon neutral buildings.

A particular feature of the course content lies with the emphasis on the performance-based, structural design philosophy. The strong focus on these aspects will appeal to any students who intend to become the next generation of structural engineers after graduation.

Read about Women in Engineering Scholarships.


Structural engineering is a profession that provides a tremendous opportunity to make a real difference to people's lives and their environment. In the current century, climate change is an increasingly important issue which needs to be tackled - and the role of the structural engineer in tackling climate change is immense.

To meet these challenges, structural engineers need to combine traditional structural engineering expertise with an understanding of a wide range of issues related to design of zero carbon buildings. There is a significant shortage of structural engineers with the requisite knowledge, skills, and experience to deal efficiently with complex issues for designing structurally sound, elegantly simple and environmentally sustainable buildings. The skills shortage and its effects on the construction industry will be further exacerbated by the huge demand from some rising economic powers.

This new MSc programme has been developed in response to this growing need for graduates aware of current challenges in structural engineering. The primary aim of this programme is to create master’s degree graduates with qualities and transferable skills for demanding employment in the construction and civil engineering sector. The graduates will have the independent learning ability required for continuing professional development and acquiring new skills at the highest level.


Contact our Enquiries team.
Course Enquiries: +44 (0)1895 265599 (before you submit an application)
Admissions Office: +44 (0)1895 265265 (after you submit an application)

Course content

The programme is currently taken full-time, over 12 months. Each taught module will count for 15 credits, approximating to 150 learning hours. The modules will be taught over the first eight months and during the final four months, students will conduct an individual research project worth 60 credits (Dissertation).


Nonlinear Structural Analysis and Finite Element Method

This module develops the student’s advanced knowledge and skills of: Structural analysis with material nonlinear (beam, plate); Structural analysis with geometrical nonlinear (beam, plate); Catenary actions (beam, plate); Membrane actions (plate, slab floor); Establishing the balance equations; Numerical integration; Finite element shape functions; Moving from the continuous system to a discretised system; Isoparametric finite elements; Solving time domain dynamic systems; Newton-Raphson and Modified Newton-Raphson iterative solution schemes for nonlinear problems.

Structural Dynamics and Seismic Design

This module aims to develop student’s knowledge and skills of: Seismology; Structural dynamics for linear systems; Seismic risk; General seismic design considerations; Passive control; Seismic design of buildings: general principles; Nonlinear response of buildings to earthquake time histories; Seismic design of concrete buildings; Seismic design of steel buildings.

Advanced Construction Materials and Structural Retrofitting Technology

This exclusive module focuses on providing an advanced knowledge of: Concrete (Low carbon & low energy cement and concrete; fibre reinforced concrete; cementlike and cementless concrete; fracture mechanics for concrete); Timber (laminated structures); Composite materials (Steel-concrete composites for construction; natural composites for construction; other advance composites for construction); Nanomaterials (an introduction); Other sustainable materials for construction; Structural renovation and retrofitting (FRP; NDT).

Advanced Reinforced and Prestressed Concrete Design

This module focuses on giving students a comprehensive and professional working knowledge of: Fundamentals of reinforced concrete structure design; Principles of reinforced and prestressed concrete design adopted by Eurocodes; Design of shear wall and frame-wall multi-storey and high-rise buildings; Fundamentals of theory of prestressing; Design principles for prestressed concrete beam & frame structure; Prestressing with pretensioned tendons; Prestressing with post-tensioned tendons.

Advanced Steel Design

This module aims to develop student’s advanced knowledge and skills of: Fundamentals of steel structure design; Principles of structural steel design adopted by Eurocodes; Design of multi-storey/high-rise steel frame including braced steel frame and steel-framed composite buildings; Stability analyses of steel structures; Computer-based steel structure analysis and design

Structural Design for Fire

This module develops the student’s knowledge and awareness of: Building fires; Consequences of building fires and general safety measures; Effects of fire on the structure; Behaviour of simple structural elements in fire; Analytical methods and behaviour of beams, columns and frames; Portal frames; Simple design methods; The behaviour of complete building structures; New design approaches.

Contemporary Structures and Sustainable Construction

This module aims to integrate the acquired knowledge and skills relevant to structural design and enable students to appreciate modern structure design with case studies of real structures. The module will be delivered at project based with significant input from practising engineers, architects, etc. to appreciate holistic approach of structural design including consideration of sustainability. Students will be conducting a comprehensive group project on sustainable structural design. They will be mentored and assessed by academic staff plus practising engineers, architects etc.

Research Methods and Professional Development

This generic module instils the principles of good research practice and enable students to acquire skills to conduct scientifically-robust research with due consideration of engineering quality issues and environmental and health and safety risks. It also develops an understanding of how research and development drives innovation in a business context and the mechanisms to protect intellectual property. Alongside the focus on research skills, it helps students progress their ability to manage their ongoing professional development.

Msc Civil Engineering Dissertation

This research module represents a major element of the Masters programme, with the aim of enabling participants to learn skills in scientific investigation and in running and presenting a project. Students are required to submit a comprehensive (bound) report describing the individual work that they have done. Each student will be assigned a supervisor with whom they should maintain regular contact to ensure satisfactory progress of the work. The dissertation should contain some unique findings generated by the student (either theoretical or experimental) and will generally require a state-of-the-art review of the subject. Students are expected to use all library resources to investigate their chosen topic.

Read more about the structure of postgraduate degrees at Brunel and what you will learn on the course.


There are many career options within the civil engineering and construction industry both in the UK and overseas for graduates of the proposed programme. Potential employers include engineering consulting firms, architectural firms, public sector infrastructure client organisations, private construction organizations (general contractors, sub-contractors), real estate developers plus government (local/central) departments and agencies responsible for significant project portfolios. Another potential destination for graduates is to pursue further studies at MPhil/PhD level, using the new MSc programme as a foundation.

At Brunel we provide many opportunities and experiences within your degree programme and beyond – work-based learning, professional support services, volunteering, mentoring, sports, arts, clubs, societies, and much, much more – and we encourage you to make the most of them, so that you can make the most of yourself.

» More about Employability

Entry criteria 2019/20

  •  A 2:2 (or above) UK Honours degree, or equivalent internationally recognised qualification, in an engineering, science or technology subject. Other qualifications and relevant experience will be assessed on an individual basis.

Entry criteria are subject to review and change each academic year.

International and EU entry requirements

If your country or institution is not listed or if you are not sure whether your institution is eligible, please contact Admissions

This information is for guidance only by Brunel University London and by meeting the academic requirements does not guarantee entry for our courses as applications are assessed on case-by-case basis.

English language requirements

  • IELTS: 6 (min 5.5 in all areas)
  • Pearson: 51 (51 in all subscores)
  • BrunELT: 60% (min 55% in all areas)

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

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.

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 at the Brunel Language Centre.

Teaching and learning

Our Philosophy

The philosophy behind the teaching and learning strategy we use is largely underpinned by high quality and accessible learning opportunities developing over the years by the University and the College, which are highly acclaimed standards and practices for learning and teaching.

In addition to teaching, the academics staff of this MSc programme are active in research. Teaching is therefore informed by research, giving you the opportunity to learn about the latest developments in structural engineering from leading experts in their chosen fields of specialisation.

Contact between students and academic staff is relatively high at around 20 hours per week initially to assist you in adjusting to university life. As the programme progresses the number of contact hours is steadily reduced as you undertake more project-based work. You will be taught by various approaches that complement each other in achieving the set learning outcomes.

How you will be taught

Lectures: These provide a broad overview of the main concepts and principles you need to understand, give you with a framework on which to build and expand your knowledge on through private studies.

Laboratories: Practical’s are generally two or three-hour sessions in which you can practice your observational and analytical skills, and develop a deeper understanding of theoretical concepts.

Design Studios: In a studio you will work on individual and group projects with guidance from members of staff. You may be required to produce a design or develop a solution to an engineering problem. These sessions allow you to develop your intellectual ability and practice your teamwork skills.

Computer Sessions: These allow for the opportunity to develop knowledge and experience of structural analysis and design software packages and apply them to structural engineering problems. Students have access to computers outside scheduled sessions to allow them to develop their transferable skills and learn at their own pace and time as well.

One-to-one Tutoring: On registration for the course you will be allocated a personal tutor who will be available to provide academic and pastoral support during your time at university. You will get one-to-one supervision on all project work.

Input from Guest Lecturers: Industry practitioners are invited to present lectures on the real structural engineering projects at regular seminars. The seminars are designed to facilitate informal interactions between students and guest lecturers, encouraging student active engagement in the discussions.

Site Visits: Learning from real-world examples is an important part of the course. You will visit sites featuring a range of structural engineering approaches. This exposure will provide you with invaluable experience including opportunities to debate on the real projects.

Assessment and feedback

Each of the taught modules is assessed either by formal examination, an assignment, or a balanced combination of two. Methods of assessing assignments include essay, individual/group report, oral presentation and class test.

Information on assignments in terms of the aims, learning outcomes, assessment criteria and submissions requirements are clearly specified at the beginning of the academic year. Detailed feedback on assignments is provided to students to assist them in achieving the required learning outcomes. The research project is assessed by dissertation and oral presentation.

Special features

  • Emphasis on safety and sustainability: This MSc programme is distinctive because of its emphasis on building safety and sustainability and disaster mitigation of civil structures – with four taught modules totalling 60 credits. The dissertation projects will also be closely linked to ongoing research in these areas.
  • Industry support: Brunel has a very active Industrial Liaison Panel, which is immensely supportive of our programmes. The Panel and the companies have also shown keen interest in offering industrial support for the new programme through assistance such as support with project dissertations and site visits.
  • Guest speakers: Our strong contact with industry is also used to invite experienced industry practitioners to come and give talks on specialist topics at regularly organised seminars. The seminars also serve as a platform for student project presentations, which goes to build their confidence level because of the recognition and value their project gains through such dissemination.
  • Supporting professional development: Under a professional development module, you will be required to actively pursue your personal development planning through continuously recording and record keeping of progress being made throughout the course duration. Personal tutors will offer support to their tutees by regularly checking these records (i.e. a Personal Development Log (PDL) and discussing any relevant issues with the aim of supporting them to find solutions.

Women in Engineering and Computing Programme

Brunel’s Women in Engineering and Computing mentoring scheme provides our female students with invaluable help and support from their industry mentors.



This course has been designed in close consultation with industry and is accredited as a designated technical MSc degree by the Joint Board of Moderators (JBM) for entry years 2017 to 2021. The JBM is made up of the Institution of Civil Engineers, the Institution of Structural Engineers, the Chartered Institution of Highways and Transportation, and the Institute of Highway Engineers.

To ensure the programme addresses current industry concerns, it was developed in compliance with international standards, using Civil Engineering Body of Knowledge as a guide. The programme satisfies the requirements of the major civil engineering professional bodies (JBM) as stipulated in their guidelines on coverage given to the teaching of structural engineering.

Facts and figures

The College is 'research intensive', which means that most academics here are actively involved in cutting-edge research. Much of the research is undertaken in collaboration with external bodies, including universities, high profile engineering and construction companies and other leading industrial firms. The research feeds directly into our courses, providing a challenging investigative culture and ensuring that you are exposed to up-to-date and relevant material throughout your time at Brunel. Our links with business and industry in the UK and overseas are capitalise on to ensure that:

  • Degrees are designed to meet the needs of industry and the market place;
  • The latest developments in the business and commercial world are fed into your course;
  • You have greater choice and quality of professional placements that you may be interested in;
  • We have more contacts to help you find a job when you graduate.

Fees and funding

Fees for 2019/20 entry

UK/EU students: £9,100 full-time

International students: £18,720 full-time

Some courses incur additional course related costs. You can also check our on-campus accommodation costs for more information on living expenses.

Read about funding opportunities available to postgraduate students

UK/EU students can opt to pay in six equal monthly instalments: the first instalment is payable on enrolment and the remaining five by Direct Debit or credit/debit card.

Overseas students can opt to pay in two instalments: 60% on enrolment, and 40% in January for students who commence their course in September (or the remaining 40% in March for selected courses that start in January).