Defence and Security Systems

  • 35 hours
  • 5 days


This five-day short course provides you with a broad overview and high-level understanding of the implementation of systems engineering principles and practices in the defence and security environment. 

It examines:

  • the ever-changing threats to security
  • the process for defining the capability required to counter the threat
  • the wide range of systems required to deliver the required effect.

You'll also hear from external speakers who are defence experts in their field from industry and defence institutions, including the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI).

The course is run by staff from the UCL Centre for Systems Engineering (UCLse) within UCL's Department of Space and Climate Physics (Mullard Space Science Laboratory (MSSL).

Course content

The course starts with a study of the global threats to national and international security, and an overview of UK government policy towards defence.

Having understood the need for defence, you'll move on to looking at:

  • how to define the capability required from defence systems
  • how to make a wide variety of complex defence systems work together in order to provide an overall defence capability
  • the need to plan for long system lifecycles.

You'll then get an overview of the air, land and sea defence systems that are required to provide the defence capability, and the role of space systems in defence.

The threats from non-conventional attack will be covered by examining security systems and an approach to design against attack.

The course concludes with a case study which brings together the key messages.

You'll be provided with a hard copy of the taught material.

Course structure

The course will run over five days.

It's delivered as a combination of interactive taught sessions and group exercises.

This course is an optional module within UCLse's Master's degree programmes, but it can also be taken as this standalone course.

Learning outcomes

This short course will help you to:

  • understand the global defence issues which relate to the development of defence systems
  • gain an appreciation of government policy on the defence industry and its impact on system development
  • describe the complexity and challenges of developing defence systems to meet global defence requirements
  • apply systems engineering principles to the development of defence systems
  • understand the range of land, sea and air defence systems and the role of space in defence
  • describe the impact of terrorism and the development of associated security systems

Cost and concessions

The fees are:

  • £1,595 - UK/EU
  • £2,364 - overseas

Some discounts may be available. Contact the course administrator at for more information. 

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Course team

Professor Doug Cowper

Doug is a professionally qualified and highly experienced systems engineering manager with extensive knowledge and skills across the lifecycle within a wide range of commercial, military, government and academic sectors. Doug has a PhD in Systems Engineering / Technology Management from the UCL and is now managing Director of Cleave Systems Ltd., from where he re-joins the UCLse team to support the delivery of this course. He is past president of INCOSE UK, and consultant to Airbus, Boeing, Thales and many other aerospace, defence and transport companies.

Ian Raper

Ian is a project manager and tutor in the Technology Management Group. Prior to joining MSSL he had 22 years of industrial experience working on all aspects of the systems design lifecycle from user requirements through to integration, acceptance and deployment. Part of Ian’s career was in the defence sector, within Vickers Shipbuilding and BAE SYSTEMS. Following this, he worked in the space sector covering mission and system level activities at EADS Astrium. Ian is a Chartered Engineer and a member of the International Council on Systems Engineering. He holds an MSc in Systems Engineering from UCL.

Dr Hervé Borrion

Hervé is a Lecturer in Security and Crime Science. He has been helping bring together a community of academics in the engineering and social sciences around various security projects. His research interest lies in the application of systems modelling techniques to security, and the enhancement of security risk assessment for counter-terrorism and organised crime. He was the founding director of the MSc in Countering Terrorism and Organised Crime and the MRes Security Science, and is now the Deputy Director of SECReT. He's a visiting scholar at the Centre for Public Safety Research in Tsinghua University (Beijing).

Course information last modified: 03 Apr 2019, 12:08