The schematic diagram shows the first of three advanced engine concepts researched in ULTIMATE at Cranfield University. Open rotor powerplants offer very high propulsive efficiency, but their small turbomachines suffer from relatively poor component efficiencies. This limits engine overall pressure ratio and thermal efficiency. Topping cycles improve engine thermal efficiency by adding pressure-rise combustion to increase overall pressure ratio and core specific power. Pressure-rise combustion could be realized using pulse detonation, wave rotors or piston engines, but this design concept uses compact ‘nutating disc’ machines. Six nutating disc modules are arranged between the core compressor and turbine stages. Colours in the diagram are indicative of component and fluid temperatures, with blue being cold and orange much hotter. However, the highest cycle temperatures are found in the nutating-disc module, shown here as a ‘black box’. Variant cycles have been analysed adding intercooling ahead of the nutating-disc modules and/or secondary combustion afterwards, to increase core specific power and reduce powerplant weight.