Railway systems in the UK and internationally are aging with the need for the introduction of new infrastructure, technologies, and practices, to ensure that they are sustainable. Thus, providing local, national, and international socio-economic benefits for the future. The combination of these factors requires you, as 21st century railway engineers, to have a systems approach to the construction, operation, and management of the railway, as highlighted by the Williams-Shapps plan for Rail (DfT, 2021) and the Network Rail Asset Management Policy (Network Rail, 2018).
To achieve this aim, the LSBU L5 Rail & Rail Systems Senior Engineering (Apprenticeship) has been developed based on discussions with the railway industry and its supply chain. Enabling our course to be structured around you and your roles within industry, especially disciplinary interests such as:
Traction & rolling Stock;
Throughout the course, as well as being taught key topics, you are encouraged to share your experience and knowledge so that all you can engage in peer learning, development, and discussion. Through this approach, you will broaden your learning opportunities to wider appropriate topics. Enabling you to identify necessary practices, processes, and the employment of technology, within the railway industry and its supply chain.
Modules within the course employ real-life railway examples, such as Railway Accident Investigation Branch Reports, that provide information on incidents which have occurred. Providing you with core learning points applicable to the railway industry and its stakeholders, so you can see the application of your learning to solving real-life problems.
Given you will be working full-time, potentially with many years outside of education, and your professional need for a variety of skills, such as presentations, authoring reports, and use of software, our course is 100% coursework. Empowering you to develop theoretical and practical skills for the present and future, while at the same time enabling you to prepare for your EPA, which consists of a report, presentation, and interview.
To be considered for entry to the first year of this course applicants will be required to have the following qualifications:
L3 Rail Engineering Apprenticeship;
L4 you will be considered for an advanced entry with benefit of few exemptions to modules already covered and similar in nature and content;
Apprentices who have successfully passed the L5 Apprenticeship in Rail & Rail Systems Engineering (Apprenticeship), will be able to apply for a ‘top up’ on a subsequent final year of the L6 (BEng (Hons), to achieve their degree.
A Level BBB including Mathematics and/or Physical Sciences (120 UCAS points) or;
BTEC National Diploma DDM, including Level 3 Mathematics and Physical Sciences (128 UCAS points) or;
EAL Technical Extended Diploma in Engineering Technologies, D, including: Further Engineering Mathematics; and other options relevant to Electrical, Mechanical or Civil engineering or;
Access to HE qualifications with 24 Distinctions and 21 Merits, with at least half the course in Mathematics and Physical Science subjects (122 UCAS points) or;
Equivalent level 3 qualifications worth 120 UCAS points and including Mathematics and Physical Sciences
Applicants must hold 5 GCSEs A-C including Maths and English or equivalent (reformed GCSEs grade 4 or above).
We welcome qualifications from around the world.
Accredited Prior Learning/Transfer Credit Applicants may be considered for entry to the second year of the course with the following qualifications. Applicants will normally be interviewed and may be required to sit a Mathematics test to ensure their preparedness for direct entry.
BTEC Higher National Diploma in Electrical and Electronic Engineering or a closely-related subject or;
DipHE in a directly-relevant subject or;
Transfer of 120 Level 4 credits from a directly-equivalent degree course and with the approval of the director of that course or;
an overseas qualification assessed by UK NARIC as equivalent to at least BTEC HND in a closely-related subject and an IELTS score of 6.5 or equivalent.
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The cost of the apprenticeship is paid fully by the employer (sometimes part funded by the government) through apprenticeship levy. The apprenticeship levy is a pot of money some companies pay into, which all businesses have access to spend on the training costs of apprenticeships. Companies fall into two categories: levy-payers (who pay into the pot) and non-levy payers (who do not). You can find out more in our Levy and Funding section, specifically for employers
The apprentice does not contribute toward the cost of study.
Apprenticeship standards are all assigned a funding band by the Government – these funding bands are the maximum amount the Government will fund via the levy towards a given apprenticeship standard. There are currently 30 funding bands ranging from £1,000 to £27,000.
Employers with less than 50 staff sending an apprentice aged 16-18 will have 100% of the training costs paid by the government. All employers who employ an apprentice aged 16-18 on the first day of teaching will receive a £1,000 incentive from the government. You can find out more in our Levy and Funding section, specifically for employers.
Some modules include field trips and site visits. These are organised by the division, and you are required to contribute towards the cost. If there are any field trips or any course visits as part of your learning, we will let you know in suitable time.
An Apprenticeship Standard is comprised of a programme of study, an End Point Assessment and on-the-job learning. This means that in addition to meeting academic requirements, you’ll need to be employed in a role related to your apprenticeship. The process of applying depends on whether you have an employer to sponsor (and support) you.
If you are employed and your employer has confirmed they will support your apprenticeship:
You are welcome to submit an application via our application system. You’ll need to provide details of your employment/employer as part of the application. You’ll also need to ensure you and your employer meet the requirements – find out who can be an apprentice to see if you meet the entry requirements and employer commitments to find out more about your employer’s role.
If you are not employed:
You will need to find a job role related to the apprenticeship you wish to apply for, with an employer who is happy to support you. If you would like to find an employer to support your apprenticeship with LSBU, you can search which employers are currently advertising Apprenticeships via the National Apprenticeship Service website searching for ‘London South Bank University’ as keywords.
If there are no search results, this means there are currently no vacancies. We update our vacancies regularly, so please do check back regularly.
Many employers advertise their apprenticeship vacancies on their websites or via other portals. You could search for ‘find an apprenticeship’ online.
There are steps the apprentices, the employer and the University need to complete before you start your course. Take a look at the steps to be completed in the Enrolment section. Employers may also like to look at our steps to offering an apprenticeship.
DfT, 2021a. Great British Railways: Williams-Shapps plan for rail.Available here
DfT, 2021b. Integrated Rail Plan for the North and Midlands. Available here
ORR, 2021. Rail regulator calls for better planning of engineering works to reduce impact on passengers. Available here
London Assembly, 2018. Derailed: Getting Crossrail back on track. Available here
Year 1- Understanding the Railway
(Shared) Railway Industry Professional Practice This module assists you in identifying the need to implement effective qualitative methods of thinking and practice within railway engineering. Thus, allowing you to manage and operate the railway safely, time, and cost-efficiently. This is achieved through your ability to examine key situations, evaluate findings from that analysis, and subsequently develop improved methods of safe, time, and cost-efficient working within the railway industry.
(Shared) Engineering Maths This module ensures that you, as railway professionals, have a sound understanding of mathematical concepts for application throughout modules in the course where mathematical skills are a necessity (e.g., Advanced Maths, Applied Railway Dynamics). The module also enables you to develop quantitative reasoning skills which, with qualitative skills, enable effective decision making for the planning, design, and operation of railway-based systems.
(Shared) Project & Asset Management An essential requirement of the ageing 21st railway is to ensure that it is safe, timely, and cost-efficient. Project and Asset Management play key roles in achieving this. This module, therefore, introduces you to core reasoning for and application of project and asset management processes within the railway industry.
(Shared) Introduction to Traction & Rolling Stock The role of the railway engineer is to ensure the safe passage and movement of rail-based vehicles safely, timely, and cost-efficiently. This module assists you in understanding the systems that form those railway-based vehicles; how they are interconnected with and interdependent on other systems within the railway; and how they form a sustainable mode of transport.
Year 2 - Building knowledge of the Railway
(Shared) Programming This module provides you with methods of thinking logically, through identifying interconnected and interdependent scenarios through the preparation of flowcharts and procedures to be implemented within a computer programme. Where Logical thinking is an essential need within engineering practice, enabling the effective planning, design, and management of interfacing systems that form the railway and its environment.
(Shared) Plotting & Mapping the Railway This module develops your understanding of the need to effectively survey, plot, and map railway assets within the environment of the railway and its wider contextual environment. The module provides learning opportunities in the use of appropriate specialist tools, techniques, and mathematical formulae for surveying; creating AutoCAD drawings of assets and interfacing systems; and plotting asset locations within a Geographical Information System, with the provision of appropriate meta data.
(Shared) Railway Reliability, Availability, and Maintainability (RAMs) This module introduces you to concepts of systems thinking within the operation and management of the railway, where the railway is “a set of connected things or devices that operate together” (Cambridge University Press, 2022). Thus, building on key learning from the previous L4 modules. Considering the need to integrate a safety culture, throughout asset life cycle responsibilities, thus ensuring that effective safety integrity levels are chosen and maintained. It also considers how human factors in the railway may affect the delivery of these.
(Shared) Adv. Engineering Maths The module develops your knowledge and understanding of advanced engineering mathematics and provides you with higher-level maths skills to enable you to apply appropriate mathematical methods, tools, and notations proficiently in the analysis and solution of a variety of advanced engineering problems, which occur in the railway.
Year 3 - Fundamentals of Railway Engineering
(Pathway Specific) Mechanical Engineering Principles The railway track, its supporting structures, OLE, and traction & rolling stock (trains) all consist of mechanical elements. This module therefore provides you with a mechanical knowledge of the assets you manage daily. It subsequently provides you with subsequent knowledge that will be further developed through your course and in practice.
(Pathway Specific) Principles of Electrical Engineering This module introduces you to the principles of electrical systems as an integral part of the operation for many and various assets within the railway environment. The topics in this module will be subsequently built upon as you progress through your course and in practice.
(Pathway Specific) Track & Civils Structures This module assists you in understanding the relationships between disciplinary interests/responsibilities within the larger railway environment. Through this module, you will develop comprehension of the correlation between the track and civil structures ensuring they can support the effective performance and operation of the railway.
(Pathway Specific) Principles of Control This module provides you with knowledge of how control is employed within railway electrical, traction & rolling stock, signalling, and telecoms disciplines. It provides you with an understanding of how systems & control work and how they play an essential part in the safe efficient operation of the railway. Knowledge of the application of this topic is especially important as more automation of railway systems are developed for train communication and control; level crossing protection; and interlocking of signals and crossovers.
(Shared) Applied Railway Dynamics The module ensures that you understand the application of mathematical concepts to specific railway engineering and operational considerations. Including, Capacity of trains and lines; Vehicle dynamics; Transportation work and productivity; Energy consumption and efficiency; and Contact line support. The module also introduces students to the use of appropriate mathematical modelling software for application to the wider railway system.
(Shared) Team Railway Engineering Project This module enables you to apply your learning from the course to address a technical challenge within the UK railway industry. You will develop an understanding of the design processes within railway engineering by carrying out a team project and through the application of your developed skills in managing projects as part of a team and working with others.
By completing the apprenticeship route, you will have the advantage of having real-world work experience, working in a role related to your area of study, as well as gaining an appropriate Degree. Giving you a competitive edge among other graduates when you complete your apprenticeship standard.
During your studies – and for two years after you graduate – you’ll have access to our Employability Service, who can help you develop your skills through the Careers Gym workshops and presentations. Our JobShop advisers support students and graduates with finding the right job for them.
We are University of the Year for Graduate Employment - The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2018.
Through undertaking this course, you will not only gain essential technical skills, but also a systems knowledge of the railway, contributing to the safe, time, and cost-effective operation of the railway for the future, as required by the Williams-Shapps Plan for Rail (DfT, 2021). Achieved by:
developing technical, quantitative, and qualitative skills and knowledge that enable you to understand the railway as a system, empowering you to work within multi-disciplinary teams, taking personal responsibility and accountability for projects and works.
Indicative job titles at L5 can include:
Track Engineer; Rail Civil Engineer; Asset Engineer; Lead Signal Design Engineer; Signalling & Control Systems Engineer; Telecoms Engineer; Traction & Rolling Stock Engineer; and Rail Electrification Engineer.
The course has stakeholders from across the railway industry and its supply chain, including Network Rail, Transport for London, WSP, Thales, and Siemens. Regular discussions are held with our stakeholder representatives, to ensure that we are delivering appropriate skills and knowledge to you for application within your industry roles.
Furthermore, specialists from these organisations, and other industry partners, such as HS2, are invited to share with you their career paths, their experiences of different roles within the industry, and to provide you with knowledge that are essential to you.
The course has been designed to meet Institute of Engineer and Technology (IET) accreditation, one of the world’s leading professional societies for engineers and technicians. The course will seek to be accredited in 2023.
Teaching and Assessment
Within the course shared thinking and discussion is encouraged, as appropriate, to enable a collective learning experience and to develop peer support, which also provides essential skills to achieve railway industry and supply chain needs (e.g., working collaboratively).
Teaching of the course includes:
Multi-pathway in class teaching - where you will attend shared pathway modules, enabling you to gain a holistic understanding of the railway industry and its needs, whilst enabling you to share and discuss your own multi-disciplinary knowledge and experiences;
Disciplinary in class teaching - where you attend pathway specific modules, enabling you to gain disciplinary understanding of the specific aspects of the railway, whilst enabling you to share and discuss your technical knowledge and experiences;
Laboratory sessions – where you can develop your practical understanding of the theory you gained in the classroom, and advance your skills for application to your roles within the railway industry and its supply chain;
Use of specialist software – that enables you to develop technological skills using a variety of specialist software enhancing your knowledge of the different types of software applications;
Projects – where you apply your learning and professional skills to undertake a team project in Year 3, where you will propose solutions to a current challenge within the railway industry; and
an individual project for your apprenticeship End Point Assessment (EPA), applying your learning to a railway industry scenario of your choice
To encourage you to understand the application of learning to your day-to-day roles, teaching includes:
reviews of railway-based case studies;
consideration of general engineering applications to the railway;
technical, mathematical, and background engineering theory;
discussion of the engineering theory, technical, mathematical, and background concepts;
qualitative reasoning as to why topics are applicable to the railway industry.
An essential part of the course is you undertaking your own self-learning. Thus, facilitating enhancement of your knowledge of topics discussed in lectures, whilst you build a greater appreciation of application of that learning to the railway industry. This can be achieved by using the reading lists within the VLE or through your researching related materials.
Between Blocks, touchpoints are held to enable you to ask your module leaders for further clarification of topics taught or to expand. While these are voluntary, you are encouraged to attend.
Undertaking a degree can be challenging, but it is worthwhile for your career and personal esteem. To help you undertake the apprenticeship, you must have discussed with your line manager how the off-the-job 6 hours a week training commitment will be met.
This is not an optional commitment and will be tracked throughout the programme, so you should be clear as to how you and your employer will be able to accommodate this requirement. If you need support in relation to this, any member of the programme faculty will be happy to help.