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    Control and Systems Engineering

    Department of Automatic Control and Systems Engineering, Faculty of Engineering

    This specialist masters course prepares you for a PhD or a career in research. It will enable you to work on a significant research project whilst also developing your knowledge in areas of control and systems engineering.
    Photo of researcher Dr Michael Farnsworth working in the Digital Manufacturing Lab

    Course description

    This course enables you to specialise in an area of control and systems engineering that you are passionate about by studying a significant year-long research project of your choice, alongside a range of taught modules. 

    There are a wide range of research areas for you to study. Working with your project leader, you’ll learn vital research techniques that will help you to succeed in a career in research, such as collating data, report writing and presentation skills.

    You’ll also attend taught modules to develop an advanced understanding of control and systems engineering, which you’ll apply to your research project. You’ll also have the opportunity to work alongside other control and systems engineering students during your studies.


    A selection of modules is available each year - some examples are below. There may be changes before you start your course. From May of the year of entry, formal programme regulations will be available in our Programme Regulations Finder.

    Core modules:

    Optimisation and Signal Processing

    This module aims to provide detailed presentations to the use of the theory and methods of optimisation and signal processing for a wide range of engineering problems. In the optimisation part, in additional to traditional optimisation methods, topics based on recent developments in heuristic methods, such as evolutionary computing (e.g. swarm intelligence) will also be presented. While in the signal processing part, the concepts of sampling, digital filters and digital image processing will be introduced; the analysis methods of discrete signals and systems in both the time and frequency domain, and basic digital image processing methods will be delivered.

    15 credits
    Modern Control & System Identification

    This module introduces you to advanced state-space control systems analysis and design methods for multivariable systems. The focus is linear time-invariant (LTI) systems in the continuous-time domain, although an introduction is also provided to discrete-time cases and nonlinear cases. You will also be introduced to system identification techniques. System identification uses observations of inputs and outputs from physical systems and estimates dynamical models directly. The theoretical framework and the computational algorithms are explored using synthetic and real problems to show how models can be estimated and validated for future use.

    15 credits
    Control Research Project

    The aim of the individual research project is to give you the opportunity to further develop the advanced knowledge and skills gained in the course, and apply these to a specific problem (or set of problems) at a research level. You will be allocated a research supervisor and work as part of the ACSE research groups/teams. This will enable you to experience and engage with active state-of-the-art research in our discipline. The length of the projects duration and timing (120 credits, year-long) gives you a genuine opportunity to create impact with your work, and experience world-class research. The main outcomes of the research projects would be of high quality and research rigour that could potentially be further developed after the end of the project towards a scientific publication. It builds on the taught modules and develops a greater level of independence. You, guided by the academic supervisor, will jointly develop the project specification and aims. You are expected to demonstrate a high level of initiative and independence. You will also develop skills in creative and critical thinking, analysis, reflection, effective project management and communication. This project module also includes a 'research skills' taught component (via seminars), which will help you develop research-specific skills, tailored from the projects.

    120 credits

    Optional modules - examples include:

    Machine Vision

    The module gives knowledge of machine vision methods for a broad range of applications. It introduces you to image and video processing models and methods and provides you with skills on how to embed them in autonomous systems. You will be able to apply the acquired knowledge to both industrial and research areas.

    15 credits
    Cybersecurity for control systems

    The increase of sensing, computing, and communication technologies on control systems is enabling a host of new applications and services but it also opens the door to cybersecurity threats. Realizing the promise of secure control systems requires the development of analysis tools and design guidelines that integrate security guarantees in the performance characterization of the control system. This module aims to lay the theoretical foundations for secure control system design problems while explicitly teaching students how to account for the operational and practical constraints posed by real control systems.

    15 credits
    Advanced Control

    The aim of this module is to provide you with an introduction to some of the advanced control techniques used in modern control engineering research and industrial applications. The module will cover both theory and practice, involving analysis and design.

    Different control techniques and applications may be covered in different years. In all cases, the basic principles and concepts of a particular control technique will be introduced, and comparisons and contrasts will be made with other techniques. Subsequently, the design, analysis and implementation of advanced controllers or control laws will be covered, starting from the requirements of the basic control problem for the application at hand (i.e. stability in the presence of constraints; disturbance and noise rejection). Controller design will be illustrated by industrially-relevant case studies.

    15 credits
    Mobile Robotics and Autonomous Systems

    Robotics and autonomous systems are having an increasing impact on society and the way we live. From advanced manufacturing and surgical robots to unmanned aerial systems and driverless cars, this exciting area is presenting increasing technological challenges. This module provides you with the advanced knowledge and understanding to apply control and systems engineering concepts to the closely related disciplines of robotics and autonomous systems. The module covers theoretical and technical analysis, and design aspects of mobile and manipulator robots with reference to their applications. The module further covers advanced techniques in autonomous decision making for robots and autonomous vehicles.

    15 credits
    Multisensor and Decision Systems

    The ability to use data and information from multiple sources and make informed decisions based on that data is key to many applications, e.g. manufacturing, aerospace, robotics, finance and healthcare. Through effective use of multisensory data and decision making we can reduce uncertainty, improve robustness and reliability, enhance efficiency and ultimately improve the performance of systems. In this module you will develop an in depth knowledge and understanding of multisensor and decision systems and the underlying mathematics and algorithms. You will develop your confidence in solving complex problems requiring the application of multisensory and decision techniques to a wide variety of applications.

    15 credits

    The content of our courses is reviewed annually to make sure it's up-to-date and relevant. Individual modules are occasionally updated or withdrawn. This is in response to discoveries through our world-leading research; funding changes; professional accreditation requirements; student or employer feedback; outcomes of reviews; and variations in staff or student numbers. In the event of any change we'll consult and inform students in good time and take reasonable steps to minimise disruption.

    Open days

    An open day gives you the best opportunity to hear first-hand from our current students and staff about our courses.

    You may also be able to pre-book a department visit as part of a campus tour.Open days and campus tours


    1 year full-time


    There are lectures, seminars, tutorials, individual assignments and a major research project. 


    You’ll be assessed via exams, coursework assignments and a project dissertation.

    Your career

    Research is an exciting career path which will open the door to working in research and development jobs or in academia.

    Our academics work on a range of research in their specific areas, often working alongside top industry professionals and research leaders across the globe.


    Department of Automatic Control and Systems Engineering

    Photo of the Amy Johnson building 2023

    We are the only department in the UK dedicated to Control and Systems Engineering.

    Our engineering graduates imagine, design and develop the advanced technologies and solutions that address big societal challenges.

    We have a diverse and vibrant community of students and staff from all over the world and we are committed to provide an inclusive and supportive learning and working environment. 

    As a student of the Faculty of Engineering you’ll be able to participate in student-led teams and societies where you can apply your engineering skills for example; SunrIde which launch rockets to record altitudes, MarsWorks who develop a Mars rover and Sheffield Bionics who create new technology for healthcare. All of this will help you develop skills for your chosen career. 

    We are home to the Rolls-Royce University Technology Centre and we’re an integral part of Sheffield Robotics and the Insigneo Institute. We have research contracts with major institutions like the European Space Agency, as well as our many academic and industrial partners. These connections mean our teaching is based on the latest thinking.

    Entry requirements

    First-class undergraduate honours degree in an engineering or mathematics subject. We may also consider science subjects with a significant amount of programming modules.

    We also consider a wide range of international qualifications:

    Entry requirements for international students

    Overall IELTS score of 6.5 with a minimum of 6.0 in each component, or equivalent.

    If you have any questions about entry requirements, please contact the department.


    You can apply now using our Postgraduate Online Application Form. It's a quick and easy process.

    Apply now


    +44 114 222 5644

    Any supervisors and research areas listed are indicative and may change before the start of the course.

    Our student protection plan

    Recognition of professional qualifications: from 1 January 2021, in order to have any UK professional qualifications recognised for work in an EU country across a number of regulated and other professions you need to apply to the host country for recognition. Read information from the UK government and the EU Regulated Professions Database.