The only wholly-postgraduate university in the UK, Cranfield is a unique learning environment with world-class programmes, unrivalled facilities and close links with business, industry and governments, all combining to attract the best students and teaching staff from around the world.
Research at Cranfield takes place in three broad categories. As well as studying for the research degree of your choice, there are many collaborative projects carried out by groups of researchers or institutions and research projects commissioned by business to address a specific industry or societal need.
In 2021, 88% of research at Cranfield was rated as world-leading or internationally excellent in the Research Excellence Framework (REF). We are ranked in the top five of UK universities for income from commercial research and consultancy commissions from business and industry.
Cranfield is a significant contributor to global innovation. Our influence on specialised sectors including Aerospace, Defence and Security, Energy and Sustainability, Environment and Agrifood, Manufacturing and Materials, Transport Systems and Water – as well as Leadership and Management – has changed the way that society thinks, works and learns.
Our distinctive learning environment allows you to develop as a professional and apply your knowledge and skills in the global economy. Our work informs policy and brings new technologies and products to the market. Our students and academics have developed solutions to real world problems – for example, in water and sanitation and aviation safety – that have improved the lives of millions of people worldwide.
We generate and transform knowledge, translating it for the benefit of society, for diverse organisations from micro small and medium enterprises to the largest blue-chip multinationals, from national governments to not-for-profit organisations and charities. We invest heavily in research facilities, such as our Aerospace Integration Research Centre, an innovative £35 million development that will change the design of future aircraft.
To ensure Cranfield's research continues to be focused on identifying and meeting the challenges of today and tomorrow, we have identified five cross-cutting discipline research areas where a critical mass of capability and expertise is emerging across the academic community.
Employability and career development
Studying at Cranfield will unlock your potential, develop your talent and greatly enhance your employability. Students graduating from Cranfield leave with the skills, knowledge and inspiration to forge long and successful careers.
Our alumni are in demand and prosper in some of the world’s most prestigious organisations, progressing to senior positions and making a difference in business, industry and for society across the globe.
For more information on how Cranfield supports your career please visit the Careers Service page.
A unique learning environment for researchers
Cranfield’s mature, postgraduate environment, world-class, industry-scale facilities, our passionate teams of academics and a community of like-minded students from more than 30 countries, combine to make Cranfield a unique place to learn.
Our staff-to-student ratio – 5:1 – is one of the best of any university in the world. Our students tell us that our hands-on, practical approach, our specialist focus and the depth and excellence of our education, research and industry links are what attracts them here.
You will be working alongside other talented postgraduates who may be studying full-time or part-time. This provides many networking opportunities with a wide group of fellow students from different backgrounds, each contributing to a rich learning experience.
Many of our teaching staff have industry backgrounds and are leading academic experts in their fields, providing real-life learning challenges that you will encounter in your career. Our teaching quality has been independently assessed and received the highest recommendation possible from the Quality Assurance Agency.
Our programmes are structured to offer many choices, from the qualification you would like to achieve, to options for full and part-time study. Find the right course for you with our course finder.
Unrivalled links with business, industry and government
Cranfield has close links with business and industry. We're number one in the UK for research income from industry per academic (Times Higher Education, 2017) and our programmes are designed with industry partners to ensure they are relevant and up-to-date. We are equipping our graduates with the knowledge and skills to meet the latest challenges facing both public and private sector organisations.
Through our many partnerships, applied research projects, executive education, and professional development programmes, we have mutually beneficial relationships with around 1,500 companies and organisations. These include many of the largest and most successful global businesses including Airbus, Jaguar Land Rover, Rolls-Royce, Unilever, EasyJet, Coca-Cola and the UK Civil Aviation Authority.
Cranfield Defence and Security, located at the Defence Academy of the United Kingdom at Shrivenham in Wiltshire, works in close partnership with the UK Ministry of Defence, providing specialist skills training. These unique qualifications are much sought-after by governments, the military and security agencies worldwide.
Cranfield University Technology Park, adjacent to the University campus, is a centre for innovation and home to around 50 companies.
Research carried out at Cranfield turns ideas and innovation into reality, delivering practical, life-changing benefits around the world, for businesses, governments and citizens alike. Three of the five Queen's Anniversary prizes Cranfield has received are for work in making the world a safer, better place. Our awards were for:
- Research and education in large-scale soil and environmental data for the sustainable use of natural resources, 2017;
- Safe water and sanitation for the world's poorest communities, 2015;
- Aviation safety through research and training in air accident investigation, 2011;
- Humanitarian demining, 2007.
Take a look at these examples of how our work has made a real difference:
- Innovation in the welding process delivers large savings to the oil and gas industry
- Assessing the potential of vertical axis wind turbines for the offshore market (NOVA)
- Influencing national policy on gender diversity on top corporate boards
- Autonomous vehicle research award
- Understanding ice formation to improve aircraft safety
- Reducing fresh produce waste through improved packaging
Find out more on our Global Impact page.
Cranfield’s mission is to be a global leader in education and transformational research in technology and management for social good. We have a particular focus on helping countries to utilise research to stimulate their economies. Some examples:
- Cranfield is leading a project investigating the hydro-social and environmental impacts of sugarcane expansion in Sub-Saharan Africa, funded by the Belmont Forum, a consortium comprising the world’s major funders of global environmental change research.
- Our links with Africa are long-standing and build on our research in tea production, water, agriculture, irrigation, soil science, and ecosystems. This is demonstrated by the Sue White Fund for Africa, which supports African students to study at Cranfield for a PhD award.
- We also have a number of projects in countries such as Brazil, China and India across a variety of disciplines, including informatics expertise to support commodity market analysis, such as the Cranfield World Soil Survey Archive and Catalogue, capabilities in corporate sustainability and governance, through our Doughty Centre for Corporate Responsibility, and significant contributions to innovation and entrepreneurship agendas, for example through the work of our Bettany Centre.
World-class, large-scale facilities
Built on a former RAF base, Cranfield is one of only a few universities in the world to own and run its own airport, maintaining an aerospace heritage stretching back more than 70 years.
Many of our facilities are industry standard, used by other universities and serve as essential, front-line resources for the UK as a whole. These include the National Flying Laboratory Centre, the National Wind Tunnel facility and the National Reference Centre for Soils.
Our pilot hall facility provides UK researchers with the unique ability to test, at scale, plants with real sewage. It is directly linked to Cranfield University’s 3,000 population equivalent sewage treatment works and can also receive imported water.
We also host the National Facility for Airborne Atmospheric Measurements, an aircraft measurement platform used by the UK atmospheric research community on campaigns throughout the world.
Cranfield’s Crash Impact Centre is one of just three FIA-approved test centres in the world, crash-testing Formula One cars. The Structural Integrity Laboratory studies the mechanical behaviour of components and material samples up to 250,000 tonnes and has machines unique to any university in Europe.
Our National Centre for Explosives Chemistry is used to develop and characterise explosives, propellants and pyrotechnics, while our Accident Investigation Laboratory is dedicated to our internationally-renowned work in aviation, marine and rail safety.
The Aerospace Integration Research Centre – a £35 million innovative centre focusing on the integration of advanced technologies to reduce the time from academic innovation to industrial application – opened in 2017, and the Digital Aviation Research and Technology Centre, due to open in 2020, will spearhead the UK’s research into digital aviation technology.
A global outlook and an international community
Talented graduates and enquiring minds from more than 100 countries come to Cranfield each year to advance their education. This international community reflects the diversity of many global organisations and multinational companies. Our students and the businesses and governments we work with have a global outlook and we share their passion to solve global challenges.
Of the 4,871 students at Cranfield (including Shrivenham) in 2018, 54% were from the UK, 21% from EU countries and 25% from the rest of the world. We have 30 international alumni groups, including in Australia, Japan, India, Switzerland and Russia. During a typical year, our academics deliver courses in 45 countries outside the UK.
Find out more information on our International pages.
Whether you come to Cranfield as an individual or with your family, you will receive a wide range of support and assistance, before, during and after your stay with us. We provide advice and guidance to help you to select the right course to meet your aspirations, access potential sources of financial support and find accommodation that best meets your needs.
We have Student Advice Centres, extensive library facilities, IT support, careers services and, on completion of your studies, access to one of the most influential alumni communities in the world. This diverse and dynamic global network of more than 60,000 people delivers lifelong benefits and a range of professional services.
For more information on the services Cranfield offers please visit our Support Services page
Alternatively, if you have any queries you can email the Student Wellbeing and Disability Support team.