Postgraduate study

Transportation Infrastructure Engineering MSc: Sustainable Highways / Sustainable Railways

Available with two pathways, Sustainable Highways or Sustainable Railways, this one-year, full time course keeps close to engineering practice. It aims to train engineers with the skills needed in the highway or railway infrastructure industries.
 
  
Duration
1 year full-time
Entry requirements
2.1 (Upper 2nd class hons degree or international equivalent)
Other requirements
Applicants need to have studied multiple courses in related engineering such as Structures, Geotechnics, Materials and Transportation Engineering. Non-standard applicants will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Significant amounts of relevant work experience may be considered as an alternative.
IELTS
6.0 with no less than 5.5 in each element.

If these grades are not met, English preparatory courses may be available
Start date
September
UK/EU fees
£7,785 - Terms apply
International fees
£22,815 - Terms apply
Campus
University Park Campus
 

 

Overview

This one year, full time course has two distinct pathways; Sustainable Highways and Sustainable Railways.

  • Sustainability is more than a badge – assessing condition, assessing sustainability, diagnosis of faults, risk assessment and decision-making are pervasive features of all the engineering application topics covered by the courses, while the more fundamental topics in the MSc programme provide the tools to achieve these. Overall, this MSc programme seeks to show how advanced engineering techniques can best be applied in industry-relevant practice. Therefore it is biased more towards team-working and practice-related challenges, so as to test understanding and application skills, than towards narrow individual research studies.
  • It integrates physical understanding of the constituent materials of road and rail infrastructure and of their deterioration due to traffic and environment with modern techniques of condition assessment and asset management planning so as to extend reliable service lives, increase life-cycles and provide sustainable service for users. These threads run throughout our teaching. Tutor-led work in each semester provide a continuous thread of design development. This can lead into the summer period project. 

Both of the pathways within this MSc programme take a radical, hands-on approach by linking traditional teaching intimately to near-real life highway and railway engineering problems. Practising engineers contribute many guest lectures to show how real-life application works.

  • The Faculty of Engineering has recently invested over £3 million into upgrading our facilities, including the provision of dedicated design studio space.
  • Our NTEC research centre carries out research in transportation and pavement engineering, as well as rail track engineering and rail system reliability. It is one of the world's leading centres in this research area with specialised labs and extensive links with industrial sponsors and other organisations, locally, nationally and internationally. This MSc draws on the expertise of the research staff and activities in NTEC, supplemented by outside experts and practitioners.
  • Our research is supported by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), UK industrial and commercial companies, UK government departments, charities and the European Union.
 

Full course details

Please note:
This course is offered in two variants: Sustainable Highways and Sustainable Railways. Applicants accepted for one of these can change to the other at any time up to the start of their course.

 

This course provides the technical knowledge and skills to develop the analytical, decision-making and critical powers required to solve, in a sustainable way, genuine, practical highway and railway engineering problems. It will help you to develop transferable skills which could lead to a successful career in highway or railway engineering.

Practical and realistic, industry-inspired projects (reviewed by industry advisors) will be used from the outset. Much of the material taught in lectures and seminars will be assessed via highway or railway project work, performed both individually and in design teams. Project work, engineering design, analysis and critique are central to all parts of the course.

Entry requirements

A 2:1 degree (or international equivalent) including structures, geotechnics, materials and transportation engineering is preferred. Exceptionally, other numerate degrees may be accepted if appropriate technical training can be demonstrated by significant work experience.

Course structure and content

The MSc includes several core modules which rapidly lead from a basic understanding to advanced application. Much of the study will be linked to highway or railway design and assessment tasks that are derived from real-world situations, devised in collaboration with our industry advisors.

The compulsory core modules are designed to give you a strong foundation in the skills and methodology necessary to successfully complete your personal dissertation project over the summer period. They are also designed to give you skills in team working and problem solving in the context of highway or railway infrastructure – skills that should enhance your employability.

You will also be able to choose two modules from a list of approved engineering or other university modules, so that you can either further develop your studies in the general field of the MSc, or so that you can take some widening topics.

The dissertation project is a chance to carry out a major piece of independent study under the supervision of a suitable member of academic staff. It could be research-based or practice-based, depending on your interests.

Teaching and learning takes place through a combination of lectures, seminars (both teacher- and student-led), project work, individual consultations, literature study, practical work including laboratory work, group interaction and discussion and learning through self-directed study.

Assessment is by a combination of seen or unseen written examinations, projects, assessed coursework, oral presentations, poster presentations, performance and other assignments, and by in-class tests. In-class tests, assessed coursework and end-of-year examinations are the principal means of assessment in lecture-based modules.

Academic English preparation and support

If you need additional support to take your language skills to the required level, you may be able to attend a presessional course at the Centre for English Language Education, which is accredited by the British Council for the teaching of English in the UK.

Students who successfully complete the presessional course to the required level can progress to postgraduate study without retaking IELTS or equivalent.

A specialist engineering course is available and you could be eligible for a joint offer, which means you will only need to apply for your visa once.

 

 
 

Modules

The modules you will take depend on whether you choose the Sustainable Highway Engineering or the Sustainable Railway Engineering pathway. All students will take the core modules listed below. The alternative modules are also listed below for each pathway, as well as optional modules. 

Core modules

Sustainable Transportation Infrastructure Engineering (full year): 40 credits
Summary Of Content: This module studies the common core subjects on which transportation infrastructure engineering relies. These include materials - principally asphalt, concrete, unbound aggregates and alternative binding agents; planning of infrastructure projects; maintenance principles; economic assessment of infrastructure (existing value and cost and value of planned works); management of the infrastructure asset in relation to life-cycle assessment, life-cycle cost assessment, immediate costs, serviceability, availability and reliability; sustainability principles and applicability to infrastructure construction, maintenance and management; environmental issues and sustainability assessment of construction.

Method and Frequency of Class: 2-hour laboratories, lectures, workshops. 

Method of Assessment:

Assessment TypeWeightRequirements
Coursework 1 6.00 Class Tests
Coursework 2 7.00 Unbound materials lab
Coursework 3 7.00 Asphalt lab
Coursework 4 20.00 Viva
Exam 2 30.00 2 hour examination.
Exam 1 30.00 2 hour examination.
 
Transportation Infrastructure Design Workshop (full year): 20 credits
Summary Of Content: This module will consist of project work to be carried out in groups. The projects will consist of realistic designs of large transportation infrastructure projects, either railway or highway links; phased to support the parallel taught modules. In Semester 1 alignment issues will be tackled, followed by design of pavement / track and associated drainage, earthworks and (in outline) structures. In Semester 2 evaluation data on existing pavement / track will be analysed, leading to designs for strengthening / renewal and consideration of sustainability issues and future maintenance strategy. The final phase will involve design of signalling systems, signs, markings etc, and working up construction quantities, costs and programme.

Method and Frequency of Class: 2-hour seminars, 30-minute workshops. 

Method of Assessment:

Assessment TypeWeightRequirements
Coursework 1 50.00 Assessed group meetings including presentations
Project 1 50.00 Dossier of design elements
 
Advanced Topics in Transportation Infrastructure ( full year): 10 credits
Summary Of Content: Mostly external speakers, largely drawn from industry, will provide lecture/seminars and answer questions. Students will be asked to reflect on common themes and strategic alternatives of approach to common issues in transportation infrastructure engineering. They will also have to prepare an extended essay dealing with one particular project (probably one of those covered by a lecture/seminar leader). The essay will be required to discuss the connections between theory and practice and in that project and to reflect upon how practical issues directed the approaches adopted by the design / construction / maintenance practitioners.

Method and Frequency of Class: 1.5-hour seminars.

Method of Assessment:

Assessment TypeWeightRequirements
Coursework 1 40.00 Report - 1000 Words
Coursework 2 60.00 Extended essay - 2500 words

 
Transportation Infrastructure Project Planning (spring): 10 credits
Summary Of Content: The module facilitates the development of a definition for a research project suitable for the degree of the student's MSc. The expectation is that the project defined in this module will be the one that is actually carried out in the Summer period as Module H24IPR for which it will provide the foundation.


A written report comprising: a literature report or similar, a proposal for the work to be performed in Module H24IPR, and a summary of preliminary work done towards the project is required each part being appropriate to the type of project envisaged for Module H24IPR. The report is to be of 3-4000 words.

The project will also allow students to develop skills necessary for presenting the results of their work orally.

The detailed technical content of the module will depend on the theme and the specific area under examination. This will be assigned by the tutor.

Method and Frequency of Class: 1-hour lectures, 8-hour seminar, 30-minute tutorials.

Method of Assessment:

Assessment TypeWeightRequirements
Coursework 1 65.00 Project proposal report including literature review or equivalent
Presentation 1 35.00 Oral illustrated presentation on Project organisation/Planning
 

The appended number indicates the relative weighting of each element.

Alternative

Railway pathway:

Railway Infrastructure Engineering (full year): 20 credits
Summary Of Content:  This module studies the application of the core transportation infrastructure engineering principles specifically to the railway field. It will provide an overview of the railway as a total system including operational issues, signalling and control but will concentrate on the track (as signalling and control systems are traditionally managed by electrical and mechanical engineers). It will introduce the components of railway track structures, conventional and otherwise and will include analysis of forces on a railway track and consequent deflections, stresses etc., as well as providing coverage of alignment design principles, track quality assessment and remediation methods.

Method and Frequency of Class: 1 or 2-hour lectures. 

Method of Assessment:

Assessment TypeWeightRequirements
Coursework 1 10.00 Track maintenance group coursework - 4 spreadsheet returns @ approx 2hours.
Coursework 2 10.00 Track design individual coursework - 1000 word report
Inclass Exam 1 (Written) 10.00 In Class Test - 1 hour.
Exam 1 70.00

3-hour exam

Lectures include introduction to a track management exercise and a track evaluation exercise, as well as a demonstration session.

 
Railway Infrastructure Dissertation Project (summer): 60 credits
Summary Of Content:  This module forms the major research project element for the MSc. It will take the form of a scientific investigation and/or technical design. It may involve experimentation, computation, extensive review of work already completed by others, infrastructure condition assessment, design of new or remedial work, or a combination of these. Typically, but not exclusively, it will include the following:
  • Project definition and aim
  • Literature review and initial work from module H24IPP
  • Practical work as outlined above
  • Presentation of results
  • Critical analysis of findings

The detailed technical content of the module will depend on topic under examination. This will be assigned by the tutor, but it will be in the field of highway infrastructure.

Method and Frequency of Class: N/A
Further Activity Detail: Tutorial sessions as appropriate throughout the summer period. A typical average period of 2 weeks between tutorials is expected. Tutorials may be for individuals or small groups locally arranged with supervisor. 

Method of Assessment:

Assessment TypeWeightRequirements
Dissertation 100.00 10,000-20,000 words
 

Highway pathway: 

Highway Infrastructure Engineering (full year): 20 credits

Summary Of Content:  This module studies the application of the core transportation infrastructure engineering principles specifically to the highway field. Three major areas are included: Highway alignment, pavement engineering and infrastructure maintenance. Coverage includes design of highway layouts, concentrating on the effects of number of lanes and also junction design; design of pavement structures and surfaces using different techniques and materials together with the deterioration mechanisms involved; maintenance/preservation methods to ensure that paved roadway surfaces, bridges, tunnels and roadsides last longer and perform better. The module aims at developing an understanding of the aspects necessary for the successful implementation of design, construction and maintenance management in highway engineering. Students will explore methods and techniques for optimising inspection, assessment and management processes, including daily maintenance operations of a local highway authority, and challenges during winter periods. Use will be made of common pragmatic techniques used in industry practice together with fundamental approaches.

Method and Frequency of Class

ActivityNumber of WeeksNumber of sessionsDuration of a session
Lecture 20 weeks 1 week 1 hour
Lecture 20 weeks 1 week 2 hours
Practicum 1 week 1 week 3 hours

Method of Assessment:

Assessment TypeWeightRequirements
Coursework 1 10.00 Highway design exercise
Coursework 3 10.00 Visual evaluation excercise
Coursework 2 10.00 Pavement Design Excercise
Coursework 4 10.00 Structural evaluation
Exam 1 60.00 3hr Exam
 
Highway Infrastructure Dissertation Project (summer): 60 credits
Summary Of Content: This module forms the major research project element for the MSc. It will take the form of a scientific investigation and/or technical design. It may involve experimentation, computation, extensive review of work already completed by others, infrastructure condition assessment, design of new or remedial work, or a combination of these. Typically, but not exclusively, it will include the following:

• Project definition and aim
• Literature review and initial work from module H24IPP
• Practical work as outlined above
• Presentation of results
• Critical analysis of findings

The detailed technical content of the module will depend on topic under examination. This will be assigned by the tutor, but it will be in the field of highway infrastructure.

Method and Frequency of Class: N/A
Further Activity Detail: Tutorial sessions as appropriate throughout the summer period. A typical average period of 2 weeks between tutorials is expected. Tutorials may be for individuals or small groups locally arranged with supervisor.

Method of Assessment:

Assessment TypeWeightRequirements
Dissertation 100.00 10,000-20,000 words
 

Optional:

Highway Infrastructure Engineering (full year): 20 credits

Summary Of Content:  This module studies the application of the core transportation infrastructure engineering principles specifically to the highway field. Three major areas are included: Highway alignment, pavement engineering and infrastructure maintenance. Coverage includes design of highway layouts, concentrating on the effects of number of lanes and also junction design; design of pavement structures and surfaces using different techniques and materials together with the deterioration mechanisms involved; maintenance/preservation methods to ensure that paved roadway surfaces, bridges, tunnels and roadsides last longer and perform better. The module aims at developing an understanding of the aspects necessary for the successful implementation of design, construction and maintenance management in highway engineering. Students will explore methods and techniques for optimising inspection, assessment and management processes, including daily maintenance operations of a local highway authority, and challenges during winter periods. Use will be made of common pragmatic techniques used in industry practice together with fundamental approaches.

Method and Frequency of Class

ActivityNumber of WeeksNumber of sessionsDuration of a session
Lecture 20 weeks 1 week 1 hour
Lecture 20 weeks 1 week 2 hours
Practicum 1 week 1 week 3 hours

Method of Assessment:

Assessment TypeWeightRequirements
Coursework 1 10.00 Highway design exercise
Coursework 3 10.00 Visual evaluation excercise
Coursework 2 10.00 Pavement Design Excercise
Coursework 4 10.00 Structural evaluation
Exam 1 60.00 3hr Exam
 

Optional:

Railway Infrastructure Engineering (full year): 20 credits
Summary Of Content:  This module studies the application of the core transportation infrastructure engineering principles specifically to the railway field. It will provide an overview of the railway as a total system including operational issues, signalling and control but will concentrate on the track (as signalling and control systems are traditionally managed by electrical and mechanical engineers). It will introduce the components of railway track structures, conventional and otherwise and will include analysis of forces on a railway track and consequent deflections, stresses etc., as well as providing coverage of alignment design principles, track quality assessment and remediation methods.

Method and Frequency of Class: 1 or 2-hour lectures. 

Method of Assessment:

Assessment TypeWeightRequirements
Coursework 1 10.00 Track maintenance group coursework - 4 spreadsheet returns @ approx 2hours.
Coursework 2 10.00 Track design individual coursework - 1000 word report
Inclass Exam 1 (Written) 10.00 In Class Test - 1 hour.
Exam 1 70.00

3-hour exam

Lectures include introduction to a track management exercise and a track evaluation exercise, as well as a demonstration session.

 

Choose 20 credits worth of other modules. If you wish, you may choose the Highway or Railway Engineering Infrastructure module that you are not taking as part of your pathway, or you may choose other available modules in the University as agreed between you and the course director

For more details on our modules, please see the module catalogue.

The modules we offer are inspired by the research interests of our staff and as a result may change for reasons of, for example, research developments or legislation changes. This list is an example of typical modules we offer, not a definitive list.

 
 

Funding

See information on how to fund your masters, including our step-by-step guide.

Please visit the faculty website for information on any scholarships currently available through the faculty.

Faculty of Engineering Postgraduate Scholarships 

UK/EU Students

Funding information can be found on the Graduate School website.

Please visit the faculty website for information on any scholarships currently available through the faculty.

International students

A step by step guide to funding is available via the Graduate School. More information on the funding opportunities available for international students can be found on the University's International Office website.

 
 

Careers and professional development

The blend of academic study and development of practical and professional skills that the course provides is an ideal preparation for the future challenges of working in a multidisciplinary environment. Graduates of this course will be highly sought-after and enter a range of careers related to the field of highway or railway engineering.

Average starting salary and career progression

The University of Nottingham is consistently named as one of the most targeted universities by Britain’s leading graduate employers* and can offer you a head-start when it comes to your career.

*The Graduate Market 2013-2017, High Fliers Research

Career Prospects and Employability

The acquisition of a masters degree demonstrates a high level of knowledge in a specific field. Whether you are using it to enhance your employability, as preparation for further academic research or as a means of vocational training, you may benefit from careers advice as to how you can use your new found skills to their full potential.

Our Careers and Employability Service will help you do this, working with you to explore your options and inviting you to attend recruitment events where you can meet potential employers, as well as suggesting further development opportunities, such as relevant work experience placements and skills workshops.

Boost your earning potential

Which university courses boost graduate wages the most? Studying with us could help you to earn more.

  • We are second highest in the UK for female engineering graduate earnings, five years after graduation
  • We are second highest in the Midlands for male engineering graduate earnings, five years after graduation

(Source: Institute for Fiscal Studies data: www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-44413086)

 

 
 

Related courses and downloads

 

Disclaimer
This online prospectus has been drafted in advance of the academic year to which it applies. Every effort has been made to ensure that the information is accurate at the time of publishing, but changes (for example to course content) are likely to occur given the interval between publishing and commencement of the course. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply for the course where there has been an interval between you reading this website and applying.

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