Short courses


Systems Design

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


This short course will give you an appreciation of the design process within the systems engineering lifecycle.

The course covers the concepts and challenges of activities associated with:

  • requirements
  • functional analysis 
  • architectural design

You'll be introduced to techniques that help decision-making processes and will look at the creative as well as systematic elements of design.

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 context

One of the most important stages in system development is design. Typically, 80% of the final system cost is committed in the first 20% of the engineering activity, i.e. during the design phase.

Given the complexity of the task a series of methodologies, tools and techniques are used in order to manage the complexity and achieve the desired goals.

Although the process of design may be considered 'creative', many analytical processes also take place. In fact, many designers often make use of the various design methodologies in their creative process.

Complex systems design is necessarily a multidisciplinary activity and requires tailoring to adapt to the needs of the particular system complexity and organisation. 

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 course will help you to:

  • understand the importance of establishing good requirements at the earliest point in the systems development
  • choose appropriate modelling and analysis techniques 
  • understand the key principles of good design
  • apply the techniques of abstraction and architectural frameworks to create a set of system viewpoints
  • apply a variety of principles and techniques to support decisions between design choices


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

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 Raúl Leal

Dr Raúl Leal

Raúl is a Senior Teaching Fellow in the Department of Space and Climate Physics in UCL. He's also the Business Development Manager for the Technology Management Group within the department. He's interested in systems thinking, systems modelling, systems design, project management and professional development in these areas in industry. His involvement in education and training extends to over 20 years and several countries. Before joining UCL he was systems design authority in the development of a nuclear imaging (PET) instrument. He's been a member of INCOSE (International Council on Systems Engineering) for over 10 years.

Simon Jackson

Simon Jackson

Simon is a Project Manager in the Technology Management Group. He has significant practical experience of project management and has been lecturing in the subject for the last eight years. He spent 20 years working in the defence industry at Rolls-Royce and British Aerospace on several aircraft. He has also managed several change projects including the development of new resource management systems. He is a chartered engineer, a member of the Royal Aeronautical Society and of the Association for Project Management.

Matthew Whyndham

Matthew Whyndham

Matthew is a practising project manager and research scientist in UCL's Department of Space and Climate Physics (MSSL). Most of his work has been in the instrumentation field (radiation detectors and data handling systems). He's the Departmental Graduate Tutor responsible for MSc programmes in Systems Engineering Management and Space Science and Engineering. He teaches topics in space technology, technology management and project management within these programmes, and is a lead tutor in UCL's APM accredited project management course.

Benoît Pigneur

Benoît Pigneur

Benoît is a tutor in the Centre for Systems Engineering at UCL. He's involved with teaching at MSc level as well as delivering industrial training. His research interests include space systems, space mission design, systems architecting, system-of-systems, concurrent design, design management and design thinking. Before joining UCL, he worked in the space industry and also in academia in UK, Europe and USA. Through his career, Benoît has been involved with several space projects as well as teaching engineering courses at university. He has an MSc in Space Mission Analysis and Design and a MSc in Systems Engineering and Control. He's a member of the International Council of Systems Engineering (INCOSE).

Course information last modified: 1 Nov 2021, 14:53