Year of entry 2024
- Start date
- September 2024
- Delivery type
- On campus
- 12 months full time
- 24 months part time
- Entry requirements
- A bachelor degree with a 2:1 (hons) in a relevant subject such as engineering, maths, economics, management, environmental science, transportation.
Full entry requirements
- English language requirements
- IELTS 6.5 overall, with no less than 6.0 in in any component, or equivalent qualification.
- UK fees
- £12,500 (Total)
- International fees
- £30,750 (Total)
Railways play a key social and economic role throughout the world. However, across the world, railways are coming under increasing pressure to address the ongoing challenges in everything from capacity and congestion to reliability within finite resource budgets and complex industry structures.
Innovation is now perhaps more important than ever. That’s why the need for professionals with tailored skills and knowledge to provide solutions to these challenges has grown – especially in the last few years.
Our Railway Operations, Management and Policy MSc takes a multidisciplinary approach, equipping you with the holistic skill set you’ll need to develop and evaluate solutions to railway problems and make a real contribution to the challenges of our railways worldwide.
Taught by leading researchers with an international reputation, this Masters degree has been designed following close consultation with industry to help prepare you for a rewarding career.
Studying in the Institute of Transport Studies at Leeds will also give you a unique head start in your career in transport. Not only does our world-leading research shape the course, but our close links with large corporations mean you’ll have chance to interact with potential employers and possibly interview for graduate schemes and other vacancies. We also offer opportunities to build your industry work experience before you graduate with work placements and project work throughout your course.
"This course will bridge the gap between understanding day-to-day operations of the different parts of the complex rail system and the wider social and strategic context that railways operate within. It will enable new and existing professionals to excel within the industry. Network Rail is keen to support this bold initiative by the University of Leeds." - Sir Peter Hendy, Chairman Network Rail.
Why study at Leeds:
- Our Institute for Transport Studies’ globally-renowned research conducted right here on campus feeds directly into the course, shaping your learning with the latest thinking in transport.
- Advance your knowledge and understanding of broader strategic developments in the rail sector, ranging from the introduction of new infrastructure and rolling stock on the network to lessons from other railway systems.
- Tailor the course to suit your career aspirations with a wide selection of optional modules in areas such as sustainable spatial planning, green logistics and railway signalling to hone your knowledge and specialise in topics that interest you the most.
- Build industry experience collaborating on a multidisciplinary team project with students from other degree specialisms that focuses on a real-world transport problem posed by Leeds City Council and/or choosing our optional four-month industrial placement scheme.
- Experience expert theoretical and practical teaching delivered by a programme team made up of researchers and academics from the Institute for Transport Studies who have extensive expertise across a variety of transport disciplines.
- Take advantage of our close working relationships with big organisations in industry such as consultancies like AECOM, ARUP, Atkins, Fore Consulting, Jacobs, Mott MacDonald, Pell Frischmann, Rambold, Tracsis, Vectos and Local / Regional / National Government organisations including Department for Transport, Active Travel England, Transport for London, Transport for the North, West Yorkshire Combined Authority and Leeds City Council who all actively advertise and recruit directly from the Institute of Transport Studies.
- This course offers flexible study options where you can study full-time over 12 months or part-time over 24 or 36 months to fit in with your lifestyle.
Join our online taster course
This two-week course offers a great taste of studying 21st-century transportation challenges at a postgraduate level.
Throughout this course, you’ll learn the fundamentals of railway operations, management and policy by studying a range of core modules. You’ll consider a variety of perspectives and tools when approaching the multiple and varied challenges present in a rail context, along with many of the key issues currently facing industry professionals.
You’ll also be able to choose two optional modules, allowing you to tailor the course to your needs and preferences. This allows you to develop more specialised skills and tailor your degree towards your preferred career interests.
Throughout your course, you'll gain a range of specialist knowledge and advanced research skills. In your dissertation, you’ll apply these to a project chosen from a variety of topics. Some topics are suggested and supported by industry, giving you the chance to address a real-world problem and gain experience of working with industry. Your supervisor will support you throughout the process of developing your dissertation topic.
In the second semester, you'll study our Transport Integrated Project module. This project lets you experience what it is like to be part of a multi-disciplined team working within the transport sector. You’ll work alongside students from our other Masters degrees, using your different specialisms to solve a real-world transport problem posed by Leeds City Council.
The Transport Integrated Project module helps you develop a real-world experience of working in the industry. You’ll gain insights into how planning, economics, environmental science, modelling and engineering can work together to develop sustainable solutions to global challenges.
Throughout the project, you’ll be advised by industry experts and will be required to write both group and individual reports. At the end of the module, you'll present your final work as a group.
Previous projects have included:
- Designing a new park and ride site
- Designing a new train station
- Redesigning Leeds’ City Square
At the Institute for Transport Studies (ITS), we want you to graduate with hands-on, real-world skills you can take into your career. Fieldwork gives you the chance to build those professional skills and put theory into practice – experiencing transport systems in action and meeting transport professionals who are actively working in the field.
The list shown below represents typical modules/components studied and may change from time to time. Read more in our terms and conditions.
Year 1 compulsory modules
|Shaping Future Transport Systems||15|
|Transport Data Collection and Analysis||15|
|Railway Operations and Management||15|
|Railway Investment Appraisal||15|
|Transport Integrated Project||15|
Year 1 optional modules (selection of typical options shown below)
|Sustainable Spatial Planning and Analysis||15|
|Analysing Transport and Society||15|
|Global Transferability of Policies||15|
|Choice Modelling and Stated Preference Survey Design||15|
|Railway Signalling and Control||15|
|Transport in Development||15|
Want to find out more about your modules?
Take a look at the Railway Operations, Management and Policy MSc module descriptions for more detail on what you will study.
Learning and teaching
Postgraduate study involves a range of teaching methods, supported by independent learning. You'll learn through a variety of teaching methods such as lectures, seminars, workshops, computer exercises, practical sessions, directed reading, reflective journal, student-led discussions, fieldwork and tutorials. You’ll also learn through independent study, allowing you to develop critical problem-solving and research skills that are relevant to a career in transport.
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 addressing the challenges in the rail industry.
Throughout your degree, you'll be supported by a personal tutor who you can meet regularly to discuss any study or career questions you might have.
There is also the opportunity to apply to the Institute for Transport Studies mentorship programme, where you'll be assigned an alumni mentor who currently works in the industry. The mentorship programme is a great opportunity to receive personal career advice and develop a relationship with someone who is successful in the transport industry.
Leeds provides a great base for our transport students, with opportunities for on-site visits to Headingley and the City Square. You can also take part in our Metropoly game where you’ll work in teams travelling around West Yorkshire using a variety of transport systems to visit various places of interest. You’ll gain points for each destination reached and the number of different transport systems covered.
See photos from the Metropoly game on Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #ITSMetropoly.
The field trip to Sheffield around December will build on the teachings from semester 1, showing you the reality of planning and managing transport in a practical setting. You’ll also independently explore the city’s main urban and transport features, whilst learning about recent or ongoing transport-related projects from local practitioners.
In addition, we offer an optional residential trip to Castleton after the Sheffield visit – a fantastic way to get to know your fellow course mates better.
We also offer a week-long European field trip in June which usually involves a circular tour around parts of The Netherlands. For many students, this trip is the highlight of the course – offering the chance to experience first-hand some truly innovative transport solutions.
Activities could include a cycle tour of Delft, a planning walk around the redeveloped Rotterdam docks area and a review of the redesign of Utrecht main railway station. You might also get chance to experience a properly integrated city neighbourhood and hear from local transport experts and ITS alumni at various talks.
Check out our European field trip video – produced by one of our transport Masters students – to see the places they visited and get an insight into what the trip is like.
Please note: itineraries may vary from year to year.
Active research environment
The Institute for Transport Studies was established as the UK’s first multidisciplinary transport department, and we continue to lead the field with our research. We work closely with key railway stakeholders in the UK, including Network Rail, Rail Safety and Standards Board (RSSB), Office of Rail and Road (ORR), Rail Delivery Group (RDG) and the Department for Transport, and internationally.
Other study options
This programme is also available part-time, over 24 or 36 months. We are flexible as to how you choose to study this course so that you can combine it with other commitments, such as an existing job. Please get in touch with our admissions team to discuss part-time study options.
The Programme Leader, Dr Manuel Ojeda Cabral, is an Associate Professor at the University of Leeds and Deputy Research Group Leader of the Economics and Appraisal Group. He has a strong interest in the railway industry and has worked on a wide range of rail projects nationally and internationally. Dr Ojeda Cabral’s research is primarily focused on understanding and improving the socio-economic appraisal of public sector projects and policies.
The wider programme team is made up of researchers and academics from the Institute for Transport Studies who have extensive expertise across a variety of transport disciplines.
On this course you’ll be taught by our expert academics, from lecturers through to professors. You may also be taught by industry professionals with years of experience, as well as trained postgraduate researchers, connecting you to some of the brightest minds on campus.
You’ll be assessed using a range of techniques including case studies, technical reports, assignments, group projects and exams.
A bachelor degree with a 2:1 (hons) in a relevant subject such as (but not limited to) engineering, maths, economics, management (and any other business-related degree), environmental science, and transportation.
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 in any component, or equivalent qualification.. For other English qualifications, read English language equivalent qualifications.
Improve your English
International students who do not meet the English language requirements for this programme may be able to study our postgraduate pre-sessional English course, to help improve your English language level.
This pre-sessional course is designed with a progression route to your degree programme and you’ll learn academic English in the context of your subject area. To find out more, read Language for Engineering (6 weeks) and Language for Science: Engineering (10 weeks).
We also offer online pre-sessionals alongside our on-campus pre-sessionals. Find out more about our six week online pre-sessional.
You can also study pre-sessionals for longer periods – read about our postgraduate pre-sessional English courses.
How to apply
Applicants are encouraged to apply as early as possible.
30 June 2024 – International applicants
8 September 2024 – UK applicants
Click below to access the University’s online application system and find out more about the application process.
If you're still unsure about the application process, contact the admissions team for help.
Read about visas, immigration and other information in International students. We recommend that international students apply as early as possible to ensure that they have time to apply for their visa.
This course is taught by
Institute for Transport Studies Postgraduate Admissions Team
UK: £12,500 (Total)
International: £30,750 (Total)
Read more about paying fees and charges.
For fees information for international taught postgraduate students, read Masters fees.
Fees for part-time courses are normally calculated based on the number of credits you study in a year compared to the equivalent full-time course. For example, if you study half the course credits in a year, you will pay half the full-time course fees for that year.
Additional cost information
Students wishing to attend the annual European Field Trip should allow approximately £500 for travel and accommodation during the trip.
There may be additional costs related to your course or programme of study, or related to being a student at the University of Leeds. Read more on our living costs and budgeting page.
Scholarships and financial support
If you have the talent and drive, we want you to be able to study with us, whatever your financial circumstances. There may be help for students in the form of loans and non-repayable grants from the University and from the government. Find out more at Masters funding overview.
Railway professionals are essential to the development and delivery of plans for significant railway infrastructure investment — and currently in the UK, we have a shortage, therefore demand is high.
A degree from the Institute for Transport Studies at Leeds opens up a range of opportunities to pursue a rewarding career in this industry. This course will equip you with an extensive specialist skill set, alongside industry experience and the chance to interact directly with industry organisations which could give you the edge with employers.
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.
Our graduates work across the private and public sectors. Many work abroad, whether for UK companies with overseas offices, for international organisations or for national governments.
Plus, the University of Leeds is in the top 10 most targeted universities in the UK by graduate recruiters, according to High Fliers’ The Graduate Market in 2023 report.
Here’s a snapshot into some of the job positions and organisations previous graduates from this course have secured:
- Information Coordinator, Network Rail
- Project Leader, Chilean State Railways
At Leeds, we help you to prepare for your future from day one — that’s one of the reasons Leeds graduates are so sought after by employers. The University’s Careers Service is one of the largest in the country, providing a wide range of resources to ensure you are prepared to take your next steps after graduation and get you where you want to be.
- Links with industry – we have close working relationships with a number of organisations and many employers visit the Institute for Transport Studies each year to interview our students for graduate schemes and other vacancies. We also regularly circulate specific job vacancies to students. Organisations include ARUP, Mott MacDonald, AECOM, Capita, Transport for London, Pell Frischmann, Leigh Fisher, JMP, Amey and Hyder among many others. Read more about graduate employability at the Institute for Transport Studies.
- Dedicated Employability Officer — gain quality advice, guidance and information to help you choose a career path. From CV and cover letter writing to supporting you with job applications, our School’s dedicated Employability Officer is on hand to help maximise your capabilities through a process of personal development and career planning.
- Employability and networking events — we run a full range of events, including careers fairs and industry talks in specialist areas and across broader industries, with employers who are actively recruiting for roles, giving you the opportunity to network and engage with industry sponsors.
- Employability skills training – to support your transition to the workplace, we embed training in a range of key transferable skills valued by employers such as research and data analysis in all our programmes.
- MyCareer system — on your course and after you graduate you’ll have access to a dedicated careers portal where you can book appointments with our team, get information on careers and see job vacancies and upcoming events.
- Opportunities at Leeds — there are plenty of exciting opportunities offered by our Leeds University Union, including volunteering and over 300 clubs and societies to get involved in.
Find out more at the careers website.
Study abroad and work placements
Four-month placement scheme
You’ll have the opportunity to gain four months industry experience in the UK with companies such as Network Rail and AECOM at the end of your Masters course. After a competitive application process, paid placements are offered from September to December at the end of your studies.
Some of the employers and the job titles of previous placement students are listed below:
- Graduate Transport Engineer, AECOM
- Strategic Planning Assistant, Timetable Development Assistant, Junior Strategic Planner, Network Rail
- Transport Consultant, Fore Consulting
- Transport Consultant, Stantec
The scheme is open to all Masters students, including those on a student visa, within the Institute for Transport Studies. Placements aren’t guaranteed.
Alumni profile: Domingo Kauak Alaff
The ITS employer days are a very good way to understand what the market is seeking in its future professionals and what main lines of work and projects are being developed.Find out more about Domingo Kauak Alaff's time at Leeds