It is the aim of this course to produce high-calibre packaging technologists and managers who have the vision and flexibility to create opportunities and to solve problems effectively. The course is relevant to a wide range of industries including: raw materials producers; packaging converters and printers; product manufacturers; packaging machine suppliers; and retailers. You will benefit from this course if you are involved in the design, manufacture, specification or use of packaging.
This MSc programme is iMechE accredited for the 2007 - 2013 intakes for CEng requirements.
Modes of Study
1 Year Full-Time - The taught element of the course (September to April) includes eight modules; delivery will be by a combination of lectures, tutorials and group/seminar work. A further four months (May to September) is spent undertaking the dissertation.
3-5 Years Distance Learning - The distance learning programme is designed to enable you to conduct most of your studies at home, in your own time and at your own pace. There is no requirement to attend lectures at Brunel University, instead you follow a structured programme of self-study at home or at work. Students are supplied with a study pack in the form of text books and CD-ROMs which are supported by e-learning web based lecture materials. Students can take between 3 and 5 years to complete the course, it is entirely up to you how long you take but usually the minimum is 3 years, with students taking four modules in the first year, four modules in the second year and the dissertation in the third year. However, depending on your other commitments you can take longer up to a maximum of 5 years. Assessment is by a combination of assignments and examinations. Examinations can be taken either at Brunel University or in the country you are resident in. We have an extensive network of organisations (Universities, Colleges and British Council Offices) throughout the world who will provide invigilation services. The cost of invigilation away from Brunel is your responsibility. The exams are held in May and September each year.
The course, which can be pursued either full-time or by Distance Learning, is made up of nine study modules and a project. For the Distance Learning mode of study, the modules are normally taken over two years and the project in the third year.
Alternatively, if you choose not to do the project, you can be awarded a Postgraduate Diploma after completing the nine modules. However you cannot then qualify for the MSc by adding on the project at a later date.
Please note you can undertake any individual module without committing to the whole programme and these modules can be credited to either an MSc or Postgraduate Diploma as outlined above.
All nine modules of the MSc can be taken by distance learning. The emphasis is on you to organise your study to suit your normal pattern of work, family commitments and recreation.
All the material you require will be provided in the form of a 'study pack'. This consists of written text, computer software, videos and other materials appropriate for each element of the programme. The written texts contain questions to test your understanding and aid recall. Notes and solutions to these questions are provided.
* Overview of Packaging
This module provides you with an overview of the packaging industry and acts as an introduction to the whole course. You are taken through the supply chain which runs from raw materials through packaging converters, packaging users, retailers and product users, to the final disposal of the packaging. This chain involves many activities such as design, choice of material, manufacturing, retailing and distribution, all of which are covered in greater depth in subsequent modules.
A significant part of the module focuses on the basic science of materials and lays the foundation for the subsequent technical modules. This allows you and your fellow students to reach a similar level of understanding of the materials science related to the four major groups of packaging materials: plastics, metals, glass, paper and board.
* Polymer Packaging
This module focuses on polymers in packaging. You will study the main processing routes: injection moulding; extrusion; thermoforming; coatings; film and bottle production. We will cover a number of characterisation techniques such as FTIR (Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy) and light/electron microscopy to determine the properties and performance of the packaging components. Characterisation of materials is important for a number of reasons and is used in:
o The design and testing of new packs
o Evaluation of new and competing materials
o Monitoring of packaging production
o Forensic analysis, to study "What went wrong?"
We also look at new developments in polymers such as water solubility, biodegradability and nanotechnology. We will investigate environmental and legal legislation relating to polymers as these are often country dependent.
* Metals, Glass, Papers and Board
This module covers the processing and production of metallic packaging using steel, tinplate and aluminium. We look at the various pack formats and how the packaging interacts with the pack contents. Corrosion is an important aspect and can limit the use of metals packaging. Glass and papers and board are given a similar treatment. We look at glass bottles, jars and vials. For papers and board, we study fibreboard, cartons, corrugated cardboard, tubes and labels. In all cases, we look at the suitability of the packaging materials for purpose. Are they the best? As with Polymer Packaging we look at characterisation techniques and consider environmental and legal issues.
* Financial Management
In this module you focus on those aspects of financial management that relate most to internal decision-making within companies. These include an understanding of the major tools such as balance sheets, profit and loss accounts, and cash flow statements.
Financial decision making in projects is important and you learn of the major methods such as simple payback, discounted cash flow and internal rate of return. Budgeting is an integral part of any financial control mechanism and you learn how to produce meaningful budgets.
* Project Management
Projects involving multi-disciplinary teams are becoming a common and important feature of modern management. Most of your work in the medium/long term will take the form of projects. Indeed, your participation in the MSc course could, in itself, be viewed as a project. Whatever your current and future roles, you will need to understand how to manage projects effectively.
This module teaches you the major factors in successful project management. We recognise that there are two sides to project management: the specific tools to manage project "milestones", and the "human" aspects of managing the team. Both are covered in the module, but the strongest emphasis is on the human aspects such as leadership, team building, motivation, problem-solving, decision-making and managing meetings. The specific tools for project management, such as critical path analysis, Gantt charts and PERT are reviewed in detail. This gives you an understanding of their attributes and supports your use of the software packages that are now widely available. Other issues covered in the module include legal aspects of projects, health and safety, and project audit.
* Managing People and Organisations
This module explores in depth and evaluates contemporary issues and trends in the management of people and organisations focusing upon Human Resources Management whilst developing your management skills. After looking at the nature and culture of organisations, further topics include current issues in engineering management and underpinning concepts and theories. Also covered is change management which will always be an important issue.
* Packaging Design
This module introduces you to the principles and criteria to be considered in good packaging design. Many of these criteria are drawn from the needs of the distribution and retailing chains and these are considered in some depth. You are made aware of the conflicts in finding a practical solution to a packaging design problem: cost reduction, differentiation, barrier requirements, environmental issues, ergonomics, and 'user friendliness'.
The needs of distributors are considered: palletisation, transportation, automatic warehousing, bar coding. This module also includes a comprehensive analysis of the major printing and decoration techniques for packaging.
* Operations Strategy, Quality and Reliability
This module provides an understanding of the role and formulation of operations strategy in an organization, one that puts emphasis on the quality and reliability aspects of an operation.
In order to be able to apply quality and reliability thinking to the organization, it is imperative that you obtain an in-depth understanding of the principles of modern quality assurance which underpin the discipline and their application in engineering and manufacturing; it is also equally important that you obtain a professional level of working knowledge of the advanced techniques in reliability engineering and are able to apply them to improve the maintenance, the maintainability and the safety of existing and proposed plant in their workplace.
This module will provide you with the knowledge and skills in these areas.
The dissertation, to be completed by Master's degree students, is designed to reinforce many of the skills acquired on the preceding modules. You are encouraged to choose a project that involves multi-disciplinary skills which will help to broaden your experience within your company.
Distance-learning students undertake their dissertation on company premises and it is designed to address real issues. For Full-time students the dissertation is undertaken at the University, however owing to the School's extensive industrial links, there are opportunities for students to complete their dissertation in conjunction with companies. The project is supervised jointly by the University and the company and you can have access to the full resources of the University if required.
This MSc programme is iMechE accredited for the 2007 - 2013 intakes for CEng requirements.
Assessment is through a mixture of coursework and examinations. Modules 1-6 have a 50/50 split between the two and Modules 7 and 8 are assessed by coursework only.
The assessment will be exactly the same as for the part-time students. You will need to submit assignments and take examinations at the same time as the part-time students.
If you live outside the UK you will be able to take the examinations in your own country. We have an extensive network of organisations (Universities, Colleges and British Council Offices) throughout the world who will provide invigilation services. If we haven't a contact near you we can help you find one. The cost of invigilation away from Brunel University is your responsibility.