Institute for Transport Studies (ITS)

MSc Railway Operations, Management and Policy

(Full Time/ Part time) 2019 start

Applications open on 3 September 2018


Railways throughout the world play a key social and economic role in societies.  They are constantly adapting to change. Many are experiencing substantial growth in patronage due to ever increasing economic prosperity and urbanisation - the result is a need for greater connectivity among urban centres and communities.

Across the world, railways are coming under increasing pressure particularly as means of intercity transport (prompting the rapid expansion of High Speed Rail) and urban transportation with the growth of cities. Holistic, multi-disciplinary solutions need to be developed to meet the challenges of capacity, congestion, reliability and user comfort within a finite resource budget.

This Masters will equip you with the skills needed to develop and evaluate a variety of solutions to these problems, including the appraisal of a variety of engineering solutions as well as pricing and other measures aimed at changing user behaviour.

Taught by researchers who are at the forefront of their field, you will develop a range and depth of expertise that will equip you for a rewarding career. We work closely with the University’s Institute of High Speed Rail Technology and System Integration. The equipment, facilities and expertise within the Institute will create a UK centre of excellence. It will be equipped to lead on the research and development needs for global industry partners including advanced technology development and testing, digital engineering and transport policy and economics.

This course will develop your skills and abilities enabling you to:

  • Apply and evaluate approaches to pricing, cost measurement and allocation of resources in the rail sector
  • Understand and apply the key principles and methods of railway investment appraisal, including practical tools
  • Demonstrate knowledge of how railway transport fits into public policy, the ownership and structure of the industry and the related governance and decision making structures
  • Identify, manage and analyse a range of data related to rail sector management, operations and policy
  • Apply statistical techniques to conduct railway transport analysis
  • Understand and evaluate the purpose and relative merits of the main types of transport models and how railway operational and management analysts interact with them
  • Develop multi-disciplinary team working skills and gain practical experience with managing a real world project.

Course content

You’ll consider a variety of perspectives when approaching a challenge in a rail context, including management, policy and economics through the following core modules:

  • Management (Railway Operation and Management)
  • Policy (Railway Policy and Railway Investment Appraisal)
  • Economics (Pricing and Demand analysis and Railway Investment Appraisal

Through the Transport Integrated Project module you’ll also be exposed to an even broader set of disciplines pertinent to key roles in the transport sector, such as engineers, sustainability analysts and environmental scientists, and you’ll be required to work in multidisciplinary teams to solve a real world transport problem involving rail.

The Programme Leader for this course is Dr Manuel Ojeda Cabral.

Course structure

These are typical modules/components studied and may change from time to time. Read more in our Terms and conditions.


Compulsory modules:

  • Railway Policy
  • Railway Operation and Management
  • Pricing and Demand Analysis
  • Transport Data Collection and Analysis
  • Rail Investment Appraisal
  • Transport Integrated Project
  • Dissertation Project

Optional modules:

  • Transport Resilience
  • Green Logistics
  • Railway Signalling and Control
  • Choice Modelling and Stated Preference Survey
  • Funding for Projects
  • Managing and Delivering Sustainability through Projects and Organisations

Learning and teaching

Teaching methods will include lectures, tutorials, group work and practical computer sessions. 

Independent study is also important to the programme, as you develop your problem-solving and research skills as well as your subject knowledge.

The dissertation project is one of the most satisfying elements of this course. You’ll get the opportunity to undertake an original piece of research relevant to the addressing the challenges in the rail industry.

Course duration: 12 months full-time/ 24-36 months part-time.


You’ll be assessed using a range of techniques including case studies, technical reports, assignments, group projects and exams.

Entry requirements, fees and applying

Entry requirements 

A bachelor degree with a 2:1 (hons) in a relevant subject such as engineering, environmental science, maths, economics, physics, computing, natural sciences or a quantitative subject.

Graduates from other disciplines and those with professional experience plus experience in the sector will also be considered.

English language requirements

IELTS 6.5 overall, with no less than 6.0 in any component, or equivalent qualification.

If English is not your first language, you may be able to take a pre-sessional course before you begin your studies. This can help if you:

  • don't meet the English language requirements for your course or
  • want to improve your understanding of academic language and practices in your area of study.

Our pre-sessional courses are designed with a progression route to the degree programme and are tailored to the subject area. For information and entry requirements, read Language for Engineering (6 weeks) and Language for Science: Engineering (10 weeks).


UK/EU: To be confirmed

International: To be confirmed

Scholarships and financial support

The Institute for Transport Studies offer a range of scholarships for UK, EU and International students. Scholarships for 2019 entry are to be confirmed.

Career opportunities

The UK has a shortage of railway professionals, which are needed to develop and deliver the plans for significant railway infrastructure investment. The job market will be buoyant for graduates of this Masters course.

Upon graduation, you may find employment in a range of roles across the transport industry, as a policy analyst, economist, strategic operations manager or planner among many others.

This course is interdisciplinary in nature and will equip you with the necessary skills to make a real contribution to the changes needed on our railways. 

Careers Support

You’ll have access to the wide variety of support available to Masters students, both within the Institute for Transport Studies and at the University’s Careers Centre.

You’ll have the chance to attend employer visit days at the Institute, which give you the opportunity to meet potential graduate employers and gain experience of the recruitment process. You’ll also be able to connect with our global alumni network and build industry contacts.

The University's Careers Centre also provides a range of support and advice to help you plan your career and make well-informed decisions along the way, even after you graduate. Find out more at the Careers website.

Related courses

This course complements the MSc(Eng) in Railway Engineering with Project Management taught by the School of Civil Engineering.

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