Process Systems Engineering MSc

Key learning outcomes from this MSc are an understanding of the principles of knowledge management, decision-making in technical systems, and business information technologies, with the focus on the process industry.

Why Surrey?

Our high-quality MSc will widen your understanding of fundamental concepts of process systems engineering, and provide you with a thorough grounding in current technologies and trends. By the time you complete the course, you will be in a position to seek well-paid employment and further your research.

Programme overview

Our Process Systems Engineering MSc will provide you with the skills required for a successful career in the process industries and is aimed at graduates of engineering, science or related disciplines. The programme will train you in general and specialist process systems engineering subjects. Such areas are not generally covered in engineering and science curricula and graduates tend to be ill prepared for the systems challenges they will face in industry or academia on graduation.

Programme Structure

We offer a set of optional modules that will allow you to tailor the programme to suit your individual needs, whilst the compulsory modules provide the fundamental knowledge and skills needed in industry today.

Graduate students will find the programme of substantial benefit in developing the knowledge and skills acquired in their undergraduate programme. For practising process engineers with professional business experience, the programme is an opportunity to update their knowledge of current design practice and also to familiarise themselves with developments in codes and methods of analysis.

Successful completion of four modules is required to gain a Postgraduate Certificate and eight modules for a Postgraduate Diploma. To be awarded the MSc, you will need to take eight modules and successfully complete a dissertation.

Each module is worth 15 credits. The majority of modules are taught by university academic staff. In addition, the business and research seminars and renewable technologies and business modules are coordinated and supervised by University academic staff but delivered by experts from industry, research institutions and business organisations. The majority of modules run for ten weeks and comprise approximately 30 hours of class time (three hours per week) and 120 hours of self-study and assignments.

There is a wide selection of modules on offer within the programme, covering the most relevant areas in the sector of business and technology in the process industry. At the end of the programme, you will have an opportunity to pursue a single topic in depth and to demonstrate evidence of research potential through the project dissertation.

Academic support in the form of consultations is constantly available to enable further knowledge and skill comprehension.

Module overview

Compulsory modules

Advanced Process Control

Automatic control is an essential technology to maintain the safe, economic and environmentally benign operation of manufacturing processes. Process control is increasingly needed and challenging because modern plants have become more difficult to operate as the result of complex and highly integrated processes. This module, therefore, aims to provide an introduction to process control, while balancing theory and practice.

Process and Energy Integration

This module develops your understanding of process integration, highlighting solution strategies for the synthesis of energy recovery networks in the context of the overall chemical flowsheet.

Process Systems Design

This module develops your understanding of how to systematically synthesise and design chemical process systems. It will cover process synthesis and integration technology that can be applied in order to improve the economic efficiency and reduce the environmental impact of chemical processing plants.

Optimisation and Decision-Making

In this module you will develop your understanding of the technology available to optimise process systems, business models and operations. You will be provided with state-of-the-art versions of modelling and optimisation approaches in order to understand both the potential and the limitations of available techniques.

Supply Chain Management

This module provides knowledge about the latest trends in the management of product supply chains and enterprise resource planning. You will learn the basic constituents of supply chains, followed by the systems engineering aspects of supply chain monitoring, simulation and optimisation.

Process Modelling and Simulation

This module provides an introduction to the concepts and tools for mathematical modelling and simulation of refinery, petrochemical and other process systems. Specifically, you will acquire knowledge of types of modelling tools and gain experience of applying the standard simulation tools commonly employed in the industrial workplace.


The project provides an opportunity for you to pursue a single topic in depth and to demonstrate evidence of research potential for the Masters award. You will be encouraged to either research a new concept or apply existing technology in a new field. A number of dissertations are carried out in collaboration with industry. Upon successful completion of the module, you will be able to approach an open-ended topic to research new ideas and experiment with new technologies.

Optional Modules

Renewable Energy Technologies

This module covers renewable energy technologies from the engineering point of view: applications, engineering calculations and design, feasibility and so on. The main aim of the course is to provide you with a systematic understanding of current knowledge, problems and insight into the field of renewable energy technologies.

Knowledge-based Systems and Artificial Intelligence

Knowledge is the most critical part of any decision-making process, whether it’s design, management or general business. By the end of this module you will be able to represent a design process as a space of states, understand the relationship between design artefact, design intent and design rationale as well as build an ontology and apply an agent-based architecture to the solution of a problem.

Introduction to Petroleum Production

On this module you will look at the field of petroleum production, and focus on surface engineering and operations. Course content includes production facility schemes, fluid separation design, equilibrium flash calculations, processing of gas condensates, hydrocarbon transportation and storage, and project economics.

Software Development

This module explores the principles and practices of scientific software development using a modern object-oriented language. You will gain an appreciation of technical issues involved in the production of computationally-intensive engineering design and simulation software. You will also be able to investigate the software design and production process from its mathematical origins, right through to coding, in a modern software language to the final user interface.

Technology, Business and Research Seminars

This module aims to provide you with an introduction to the general principles and practices associated with planning, undertaking and reporting research in engineering or physical sciences. At the same time, a series of seminars will be delivered by academics and industrial experts from diverse hi-tech industries and business (including chemicals, oil and gas, information systems and renewable technologies) which will present you with valuable insights into today’s challenges faced by technology-intensive industries in terms of their business and information systems activities. It also covers general business aspects that will explain how to start up a technology-based company.

Process Safety and Operations Integrity

This module aims to develop your understanding of process integration. You will learn about powerful methods used to assess energy targets for energy recovery, and also have the chance to develop designs that match the targets.

Biomass Processing Technology

On this module you will develop in-depth understanding of the processes and techniques required for the production of energy, as well as chemical and material products, based on biomass processing. You will finish the course with an increased ability to identify, analyse and select processes for producing biofuels, pyrolysis and gasification, and become confident explaining the concept of biorefinery and possible integrations with conventional refineries.

Refinery and Petrochemical Processing

This module looks at the processes that comprise a typical refinery and petrochemicals complex. On successful completion of the module, you will be able to explain and apply the principles for the formation of crude oil; analyse these techniques; as well as identify the challenges facing the refining and petrochemicals industry.

Process Modelling and Simulation

On this module you will address the concepts, methods and tools of process modelling and simulation. By the end of the course you should be able to identify and explain types of mathematical models, explain developing models and conduct numerical simulations. You will become confident selecting proper types of methods for a given problem, and applying standard tools to solve practical engineering issues.

Teaching and assessment

Our programme utilises our research-active staff in conjunction with state-of-the-art facilities to provide a range of learning experiences – lectures, seminars, directed study, practical laboratories and project work.

Lectures are delivered by specialised, expert academic staff. Further in-depth knowledge and skills are gained through seminars delivered and guided by experienced professionals from industry, business and research organisations, with the focus on the latest trends and problem-solving methods. You will also work on a number of projects, individually and in groups, supervised by academic staff and focusing on real-life problems.

Modules are generally assessed by a combination of examinations and continuous assessment. The latter will be based on solutions to tutorial questions, reports covering practical sessions and fieldwork, and essays on a number of suitable topics. Each module is examined separately. There is a written final examination for most modules at the end of each semester, although some modules are examined by continuous assessment only. The modules and the dissertation project have a minimum pass mark of 50 per cent.

Facilities, equipment and academic support

Modules related to the different groups are taught by a total of six full-time members of staff and a number of visiting lecturers.

An extensive library is available for individual study. It stocks more than 85,000 printed books and e-books and more than 1,400 (1,100 online) journal titles, all in the broad area of engineering. The library support can be extended further through inter-library loans.

As part of their learning experience, students have at their disposal a wide range of relevant software needed to support the programme material dissertation projects. In recent years, this work included the design of various knowledge-based and business systems on the internet, the application of optimisation algorithms, and semantic web applications.

Numerous laboratory facilities across the Faculty and the University are also available for those opting for technology-based projects, such as the process engineering facility, a control and robotics facility and signal processing labs.

The work related to the MSc dissertation can often be carried out in parallel with, and in support of, ongoing research. In the past, several graduates have carried on their MSc research to a PhD programme.

Your career

Engineers and scientists are increasingly expected to have skills in information systems engineering and decision-support systems alongside their main technical and/or scientific expertise.

Graduates of this programme will be well prepared to help technology-intensive organisations make important decisions in view of vast amounts of information by adopting, combining, implementing and executing the right technologies.

Related programmes

Postgraduate (Taught)

Related departments/schools

Related research areas

Programme leader

Dr Tao Chen

Find out more

General enquiries:

+44 (0)1483 681 681

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Programme facts

Type of programme:


Programme length:

  • Full-time: 12 months
  • Part-time: 24 months

Start date:

Sep 2016, Feb 2017

Entry Requirements

Candidates should be graduates with a minimum 2.2 honours degree (or equivalent) in an engineering, science or related subject. Practitioners with suitable qualifications and relevant experience in engineering, science or technology are also welcome to apply.

View entry requirements by country

English language requirements

We offer intensive English language pre-sessional courses, designed to take you to the level of English ability and skill required for your studies here.


Study mode Start date UK/EU fees Overseas fees
Full-time Sep 2016 £8,000 £18,000
Part-time Sep 2016 £4,000 £9,000
Full-time Feb 2017 £8,000 £18,000
Part-time Feb 2017 £4,000 £9,000

Please note these fees are for the academic year 2016/2017 only. Annual fees will rise by four per cent (rounded up to the nearest £100) for each year of study.

A complete list of all fees for our Masters Programmes


Discounts for Surrey graduates

Thinking of continuing your education at Surrey? As an alumnus of Surrey you may be eligible for a ten per cent discount on our taught Masters programme fees. Learn more.

For more details

Admissions Information

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Further information for applicants

Postgraduate Study Advice

Steps to Postgraduate Study is an official, independent guide for anyone considering a taught postgraduate course. The guide is produced by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales, the Scottish Funding Council and the Department for Employment and Learning, Northern Ireland.

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Modules listed are indicative, reflecting the information available at the time of publication. Please note that not all modules described are compulsory and may be subject to teaching availability and/or student demand.

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