Aerospace Engineering

Aerospace engineers not only develop the next generation of aircraft, but also work on equipment for weather forecasts, mobile phones, television broadcast and space flight. Study at Bristol and watch your career take off.

First-class facilities

Our state-of-the-art wind tunnel laboratories have been used to test the aerodynamics of aircraft, cars, buildings, and even Wimbledon No. 1 Court.

No. 1 in the UK

Bristol is ranked top for Aerospace Engineering in the Guardian University Guide 2021. In the latest National Student Survey, 96% of MEng students were satisfied with the course's quality.

National composites centre

Bristol is at the heart of research into composites. The University owns and collaborates with the National Composites Centre which helps transition new technologies from academia to industry.

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Aerospace Engineering at Bristol

Our degrees combine theory with practical experience and are tailored to give you the skills needed to design an aircraft or spacecraft. You will study a range of subjects – aerodynamics, structures, materials, systems, design, control – and gain experience of making them work together through projects.

Bristol's historic association with the aerospace industry puts us in an excellent position to boost your career potential. Proximity to companies such as Airbus, Rolls-Royce, Leonardo Helicopters and BAE Systems benefits our teaching and our research. A significant amount of the department's research funding comes from industry and many projects involve industrial engagement.

Our Industrial Liaison Office matches every student with an industrial mentor and assists with internships and year in industry placements. Engineers from industry partners provide in-depth technical input and support for the group design project.

Bristol has an outstanding reputation and excellent links to the aerospace industry, which makes it the perfect choice for engineering.

Balazs, MEng Aerospace Engineering

Career prospects

Accreditation by the Royal Aeronautical Society is a mark of assurance that your degree meets the UK Standard for Professional Engineering Competence (UK-SPEC). An accredited degree is a significant step towards registration as an Incorporated (IEng) or Chartered Engineer (CEng). Some employers target accredited courses when recruiting and an accredited degree is more likely to be recognised outside the UK.

Our Industrial Liaison Office organises company engagement from year one, which continues through all years of the course, making the most of nearby aerospace companies.

Aerospace Engineering graduates from Bristol earn a higher salary on average 15 months after graduation than other UK graduates with the same degree. Many graduates enter careers in other high-technology sectors, such as Formula 1, wind and marine power generation and defence contracting, while others go into further research.

What our students do after graduating

Course structure

The first three years of the course are shared by the BEng and MEng degrees, and teach the essential skills for an aerospace engineer.

Teaching is organised into three main themes: aerodynamics, dynamics and control, and structures and materials. You will study subjects that underpin these themes, such as mathematics, computing, systems engineering, and professional studies (covering topics such as business and management). In addition to core theoretical knowledge, you will develop wider skills, such as teamwork and presentation skills, as part of our design-build-test projects. You will conclude your third year with an individual research project.

For MEng students, the fourth year provides the opportunity to specialise, and to further develop your engineering skills in a group design project. The group design project is currently run in close collaboration with our industrial partners, such as Airbus and Leonardo, and provides a fantastic opportunity to work in an engineering team and apply your skills to the design of a complex engineering system.

Specialised optional units reflect the world-leading expertise of our academics and will equip you with detailed knowledge in areas such as advanced composite materials, space systems, helicopter and aircraft dynamics, and experimental or computational aerodynamics.

Building on tradition

The city's aerospace history dates back to 1910 when Sir George White founded the Bristol Aeroplane Company. The first aircraft, the Bristol Boxkite, went into production that year. The company's base was at the end of the tramline in Filton, a site that later became part of the British Aircraft Corporation, and subsequently BAe Systems. Filton continues to be a hub for aircraft manufacturers including Airbus, GKN, MBDA and Rolls-Royce as well as BAe.

In 2015 the University of Bristol joined The Airbus Group University Partner Programme, a strategic initiative that fosters long-term collaboration with selected universities world-wide offering students the opportunity to attend events such as the Airbus Airnovation Summer Academy. The department's Airbus Ambassador is Professor Ian Lane.

Airbus and the Royal Academy of Engineering co-fund the Sir George White Chair. Airbus also supports the Drone Dash Challenge which is organised by students in the Drone Society.

Aerospace Engineering

More than a century since Bristol produced its first aircraft, the south-west of England is now one of the largest centres for the aerospace industry in Europe.

Our department has close links with major industrial companies; previous partners have included Leonardo, Airbus and Rolls-Royce. Our curriculum is linked closely to our research and our academics are world leaders in aerodynamics, composites, control, vibrations and systems.

By specialising in aerospace from the very start you will study a wide range of technical subjects, all contributing to the design of future aircraft and spacecraft.

Why study Aerospace Engineering at Bristol?

Our degrees combine theory with practical experience and are tailored to give you the skills needed to design an aircraft or spacecraft. You will study a range of subjects – aerodynamics, structures, materials, systems, design, control – and gain experience of making them work together through projects.

In your research project during your third and fourth year you will tackle a specific problem in much greater detail, such as automated landing of an Unmanned Air Vehicle (UAV) or design of a potential space mission. If you choose the MEng, as part of a group design project you will work on the concept for a new commercial aircraft, presenting your design to relevant industrial partners for assessment.

Engineering students at Bristol also benefit from a dedicated Industrial Liaison Office, which develops engineering-specific industrial links for students.

What kind of student would this course suit?

If you are fascinated by the details of how things work and the innovation required to make them better, you will enjoy our aerospace degrees.

Our degrees are especially suited to students who are strongly motivated to learn about aerospace with an interest in aviation, space or a related area. The course will also suit those looking to engage with a broad range of technical material; although aerospace systems are highly specialised, their success is dependent on a wide range of disciplines.

You will need strong skills in mathematics and physics, confidence in using maths as a tool to model the physical world, and you will enjoy the challenge of developing those skills.

How is this course taught and assessed?

Teaching is primarily lecture based throughout the course, complemented by laboratory exercises to aid understanding. Independent study is also expected, combining lecture notes with textbooks and other materials.

Assessment in the first two years is approximately 75 per cent examinations and 25 per cent coursework. Examples of coursework include:

  • analysing your findings on experiments;
  • reporting on your design of a wing;
  • using modelling software to predict stresses in a fuselage;
  • developing control laws for a rotorcraft.

Later years involve a greater coursework element, including group and individual project work.

What are my career prospects?

Our graduate employment record is excellent and our links to industry and Royal Aeronautical Society accreditation ensure that our graduates are highly regarded in the commercial sector.

Our Industrial Liaison Office organises company engagement from year one, which continues through all years of the course, making the most of nearby aerospace companies.

Many graduates enter careers in other high-technology sectors, such as Formula 1, wind and marine power generation and defence contracting, while others go into further research.

Find out more about what our students do after graduating.

Disclaimer

Important disclaimer information about our courses.

Every day my inbox is flooded with opportunities – internships, research projects, extra-curricular activities – all of which are the University getting students involved. The University is constantly updating its facilities, which reinforces its friendly and inclusive environment.

Alexandra (LLB Law)

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