Lancaster University: Lancaster delivers UK’s only Master’s Degree Apprenticeship in Process Automation

Lancaster University has launched a new Level 7 Master’s degree apprenticeship programme in process automation – the only apprenticeship of its kind in the UK.

Modern chemical and process plants rely on complex control systems. These systems underpin all aspects of operations including productivity, quality, reliability, safety, sustainability and viability.

Designing and putting these systems together, getting them to work, operating and maintaining them, is challenging – requiring a depth of knowledge across a range of technical disciplines, including chemical and electrical engineering, instrumentation and control, maths and computing, software and IT, business and management.

There is a shortage of engineers with the necessary mix of knowledge and skills to work in the area of process automation, this MSc degree apprenticeship aims to address that shortfall.

This programme has been developed through the Partnership in Automation and Control Training (PACT), a consortium of companies in the sector. PACT current members are: ABB, AstraZeneca, AVEVA, BP, EEMUA, Emerson, GAMBICA, GSK, Honeywell, SABIC, Sellafield Ltd, and Worley.

Professor Jonathan Love, who will be involved in delivering the programme, said: “The degree apprenticeship is aimed at, and designed around, the needs of people employed in the chemical and process industries whose job is concerned with instrumentation, control and automation. It equips participants with the understanding, expertise and know-how to take their careers to the next level and assist their organisations in moving forward in this ever advancing sector.”

The apprenticeship is based upon the long-established MSc programme, previously offered by Newcastle University and Imperial College, which has been transferred to Lancaster University where it is being delivered by the Department of Engineering in conjunction with the companies of the PACT group.

Professor Claudio Paoloni, Head of Engineering at Lancaster University, said: “This MSc in Process Automation is a step forward for Lancaster University’s Engineering Department in embedding industry requirements and delivering comprehensive professional development through the degree apprenticeship scheme. The high quality of the programme, and the synergy with the industry members of PACT, will have a tangible impact on the progress of the employees attending and their organisations, supporting advancement of skills, knowledge and behaviours in this strategic area of process automation.”

The MSc programme is delivered part-time on a continuing professional development basis (CPD) as a rolling series of modules throughout the year, each module consisting of an intensive one-week block of tuition, followed by an assignment and an exam over a three-month period.

The MSc degree requires completion of eight modules in addition to an industrial employment based project over a maximum five-year period. The project may be of a design, development or research nature and is based upon some significant task or problem from within the student’s company.

The flexible approach allows employees to choose to undertake the full apprenticeship which includes the MSc; the MSc alone; a post-graduate Diploma (which excludes the project); or to select individual modules. The next module starts on 13th September and is on Control Schemes and Strategies.

If participating through the Degree Apprenticeship Scheme, full funding may be available through employers’ Apprenticeship Levy.