Short courses


Defence and Security Systems

  • 35 hours + plus independent study for assessment (if applicable)
  • 5 days


This 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.

Teaching, structure and assessment

This is a blended course involving both in-person and remote teaching.

It's delivered as a combination of lectures, group exercises, group discussions and case studies.

This course is an optional module within UCLse's Master's degree programmes. You can take this course as either:

  • a standalone short course
  • a 'taster module' that allows you to earn UCL credits towards a Master's degree

To earn UCL credits you'll need to complete an assessment. For more details on this option, please contact the course administrator. 

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


The fee for the short course is £1,450.

To take as a taster module and earn UCL credits, the fee is:

  • £1,681 for UK/EU 
  • £2,512 for overseas

Discounts may be available for the short course. Contact uclse.courses@ucl.ac.uk for more information.

Course team

Professor Doug Cowper

Professor Doug Cowper

Doug is a UCL Visiting Professor in Systems Engineering and has over 20 years of industrial experience working on various aspects of systems in the defence, aerospace and rail sectors. He's a proven track record of delivering systems engineering, technical management and governance and technology decision making with a diverse range of organisations. He's also led a number of working groups developing the definition and teaching of systems engineering core competencies in the UK. Doug is a Chartered Engineer and a Fellow of the IET. He's Co-chair of the joint APM and INCOSE UK Systems Thinking SIG, an INCOSE Certification Application Reviewer (CAR) and Member of the INCOSE Certification Advisory Group (CAG).

Ian Raper

Ian Raper

Ian is a Senior Teaching Fellow in the Technology Management Group at UCL. He's Programme Director for the MSc in Systems Engineering Management. He has 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 has an MSc in Systems Engineering from UCL and a PGCert in Teaching and Learning in Higher and Professional Education.

Dr Hervé Borrion

Dr Hervé Borrion

Hervé is an Associate Professor in UCL's Department of Security and Crime Science. He's 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: 15 Jan 2021, 15:31