MSc Structural and Fire Safety Engineering

MSc Degree Programme: 

Innovative design allows more interesting and functional architecture but challenges traditional concepts of fire safety. To respond to these demands takes specialist knowledge and advanced skills in engineering analysis.

The BRE Centre for Fire Safety Engineering is the largest structures and fire research group in the world and is unique in its offering of a holistic teaching programme. It is an ideal place to learn and equip yourself with leading research, skills and knowledge to address the world's growing demand for skilled professionals in structural fire safety engineering. The key focus of this course is on learning the knowledge and skills of fire safety engineering for structures, enabling innovative designs to be realised with the same level of safety as those using traditional design techniques. Rather than dealing with fire safety once the design is completed, it becomes an integral part of the process. Our graduates are leaders in applying new methods in pioneering performance based design.

The MSc programme in delivered over a total duration of 12 months, full-time only, with predominantly taught material in the first two semesters followed by a research project leading to a Masters thesis.The taught courses in semester 1 (Sep - Dec) start with fundamental material on fire science and structural behaviour, which are followed by more applied and advanced courses in semester 2 (Jan-May), including experimental work our fire laboratory and a experience of fire safety engineering design, using real-life case studies with students working in groups to present their own proposals to reviewers representing clients, architecture, regulatory authorities and the fire service. The use of modelling methods is interwoven and includes finite element methods and implementations and other fire models, with an emphasis on an appreciation of the appropriate use, the limitations and validity of different models, rather than training in the operation of the software.

Dissertation related work runs in parallel with the teaching throughout the year. Research topics are selected at the start of the year and a review project worth 10 credits is completed in semester 1. In semester 2 a pre-dissertation project explores the chosen research topic in more detail in order to define the research questions for the main dissertation phase of the work running in the summer months after the semester 2 exams in May. These components account for the remaining 20 and 60 credits of the dissertation related components, respectively.

We support learning and teaching to ensure that graduates fully understand the principles and practice of fire safety engineering, including the fundemental phenomena controlling fire behaviour and its interaction with building structures and systems, non-linear structural mechanics with applications in analysis and design of real structures under various loadings and the use of computational methods to solve real-life structural and fire safety engineering problems from a diverse range of applications.

This MSc programme is fully accredited by the Joint Board of Moderators (JBM), constituted by four professional bodies which accounting for some 100,000 professional engineers (the Institution of Civil Engineers, the Institution of Structural Engineers, the Chartered Institution of Highways and Transportation, and the Institute of Highway Engineers). This accreditation and approval of the programme reflects and acceptance that it meets the requirement to register as a professional engineer with the Engineering Council.

Degree Structure: 

Semester 1
Semester 2 
Beyond semester 2

Students are welcome to suggest topics for their dissertations or identify any interests based on previous Structural and Fire Safety Engineering MSc projects or research projects being undertaken by the BRE Centre for Fire Safety Engineering. A list of current BRE research can be found via the Research page of their website. We are proud to have Trenton Fire as a partner sponsoring £1,000 annually to the best dissertation and poster.

Examples of previous topics undertaken:

  • Heat Flux for Auto-Extinction of Timber
  • Travelling Fires
  • Fire Safety of Green Wall Facades
  • Shake It and Burn It: Dynamic Measurements in Fire Tests
  • Fire Performance of Fibre-Reinforced Polymer (FRP) Confined Concrete Columns
  • Failure Mechanisms in Tall Concrete Buildings
  • Punching Shear of Flat Slabs at Ambient and Elevated Temperatures
  • Uncertainties by using FDS as a Fire Safety Engineering Tool
  • Use of Smartphones to Aid Evacuations from Buildings in Fire Emergencies

Funding and Finance: 


The School of Engineering and the University of Edinburgh offer many scholarships and bursaries. These range from course specific funding options, to general MSc scholarships. You should visit the University's scholarships website to find out more.

The School of Engineering also has several courses which are eligible for the Postgraduate Loans (SAAS) which is a loan system for Scottish/EU students. For more information and to find out about eligibility visit our Postgraduate Loans webpage. The Scholarship and Student Funding website also has an excellent search tool, to help you find funding available to you.

Fees and Living Expenses

Certain fees must be paid in full by each postgraduate student at the beginning of each academic session in September and each student is responsible for buying their own personal protective equipment (PPE). The costs of PPE can range from £3 to £70, depending on the course being taken. More information about fees can be found on the degree pages themselves.

In terms of living expenses, you do not need to provide evidence of funding, however, you should be aware that, in applying for admission, you will be taking on a major commitment in terms of both time and money. The University recommends approximately £150 per week if living in University self-catered accommodation and £180 per week if in University catered halls (these figures include rent, lunches and personal expenditure). The University of Edinburgh's Fees and Finance section has more information available about fees and living expenses which you should take a moment to read over.

Our Graduate students said...: 

A previous student who subsequently started working for Arup in Beijing:

"Many thanks to you and the fire group for sharing an interesting and meaningful year with us. It is a really challenging programme and we learned a lot from it. I have completely achieved my goals of postgraduate study. The courses Structural and Fire Safety Engineering offered me provided a deeper understanding of fire safety and will equip me for a career start in the fire area."

A previous student who subsequently commenced a PhD in the Fire Safety Engineering Team at University of Queensland:

I am quite glad to hear that I did okay in the last year's study, and I really hope that this programme could become better and better! And I am quite sure it will, for it has an outstanding fire group and most important a dedicated programme manager and personal tutor!


Practical class on Fire Science Laboratory course
Practical class on Fire Science Laboratory course
SAFE MSc student Hangyu Xu with First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon
SAFE MSc student Hangyu Xu with First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon

Teaching Staff: 


This unique programme will offer you the knowledge and skills you need to work in fire safety engineering, encompassing the built environment but also a range of other industries.  Many of our graduates are leaders in these fields, initially pioneering the application of advanced methods for structural fire safety engineering, as regulatory frameworks began to allow performance based design, and now routinely employing these methods in leading engineering consultancies. Fire research is long established at Edinburgh, with the first graduates from previous MSc programmes back in 1975, so we are very well known internationally.  You will also benefit from networking opportunities offered by the research links of our academics and research staff to many of the main organisations which are currently active in this field, both in the research field and within industry. The vast majority of our previous graduates have proceeded to employment and responsible positions in fire consultancies and research institutions around the world, organisations include Arup Fire, AECOM, Mott Macdonald, Buro Happold, WSP, Jeremy Gardner, Exova Warringtonfire, Maurice Johnson & Partners, EFLA, CETU, BAM, Singapore Civil Defence, Burea Veritas/Chubb Hong Kong Ltd, TÜV SÜD Industrie Service GmbH, China State Construction Engineering and China Academy of Safety Science and Technology.