MSc in Aerospace Vehicle Design

Application Dates
Course Overview
Masters (Coursework)
Tuition Fees
see website
Cranfield, United Kingdom
1 Year
Prior Study
Bachelor honours degree
Graduation Results
Not applicable
Study Field


This MSc aims to build your knowledge of the design of flying vehicles such as aircraft, missiles, airships and spacecraft. Select from three specialist options in order to excel in a growing aerospace industry:

  • Aircraft Design
  • Avionics Systems Design
  • Structural Design (available for October intake only)

Who is it for?

This MSc course provides a taught engineering programme with a focus on the technical, business and management aspects of aircraft design in the civil and military aerospace sectors.

Teaching integrates a range of disciplines required by modern aircraft design, for example:

  • Structural design and analysis
  • Aircraft systems design
  • Avionic systems design
  • Propulsion
  • Flight performance
  • Aspects of manufacture
  • Operations and cost.

Why this course?

We have been at the forefront of postgraduate education in aerospace engineering since 1946. Aerospace Vehicle Design at Cranfield University was one of the original foundation courses of the College of Aeronautics. Graduates of this course are eligible to join the Cranfield College of Aeronautics Alumni Association (CCAAA), an active community which holds a number of networking and social events throughout the year.

One unique feature of the course is that we have four external examiners, two from industry who assess the group design project and two from academia who assess the individual research project.

Cranfield University is very well located for students from all over the world, and offers a range of library and support facilities to support your studies. This enables students from all over the world to complete this qualification whilst balancing work/life commitments.

Informed by Industry

The course has an Industrial Advisory Committee with senior members from major UK aerospace companies, government bodies, and the military services. The committee meets twice a year to review and advise on course content, acquisition skills and other attributes desirable from graduates of the course. Panel members include:

  • BAE Systems
  • Airbus
  • Royal Air Force
  • Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform
  • Royal Australian Air Force
  • Messier-Dowty
  • Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces.

Your teaching team

You will be taught by Cranfield's leading experts in aerospace. The Course Directors for the MSc Aerospace Vehicle Design are:

  • Dr Ioannis Giannopoulos
  • Dr Shijun Guo

The teaching on some taught modules is supported by lectures from visiting speakers from both industry and the military. Former speakers have included senior representatives from:

  • Boeing
  • Airbus
  • BAE Systems
  • Eurocopter.


The MSc in Aerospace Vehicle Design will meet, in part, the exemplifying academic benchmark requirements for registration as a Chartered Engineer. Accredited MSc graduates who also have a BEng (Hons) accredited for CEng will be able to show that they have satisfied the educational base for CEng registration.

  • Royal Aeronautical Society (RAeS)
  • Institution of Mechanical Engineers

Course details

The taught programme for the Aerospace Vehicle Design masters is generally delivered from October to March. Modules for each option vary - please refer to option MSc course pages for descriptions of compulsory modules which must be undertaken. Students have an extensive choice of optional modules to match specific interests.

Group project

The extensive group design project is a distinctive and unique feature of this course. This teamwork project takes place from October to March, and recreates a virtual industrial environment bringing together students with various experience levels and different nationalities into one integrated design team.

Each team member is given responsibility for the detailed design of a significant part of the aircraft, for example, forward fuselage, fuel system, or navigation system. The project will progress from the conceptual phase through to the preliminary and detail design phases. You will be required to run project meetings, produce engineering drawings and detailed analyses of your design. Problem solving and project co-ordination must be undertaken on a team and individual basis. At the end of the project, groups are required to report and present findings to a panel of 200 senior engineers from industry.

This element of the course is both realistic and engaging, and places the student group in a professional role as aerospace design engineers. Students testify that working as an integrated team on real problems is invaluable and prepares them well for careers in a highly competitive industry.

Students following the Structural Design option do not participate in the Group Design Project.

Watch past presentation videos to give you a taster of our innovative and exciting group projects

  • Blended Wing Body Aircraft
  • A9 Dragonfly Box Wing Aircraft
  • MRT7 Tanker Aircraft
  • A-13 Voyager
  • SL-12 Vimana

Individual project

The individual research project aims to provide the training necessary for you to apply knowledge from the taught element to research, and takes place from March to September. The project may be theoretical and/or experimental and drawn from a range of topics related to the course and suggested by teaching staff, your employer or focused on your own area of interest.  

Previous individual research projects include:

  • Fin structure aeroelastic warping effect
  • Modelling of helicopter crash behaviour
  • Shock load simulation on aircraft structures
  • Crack stoppers and fail safety in integral metal structures
  • Impact damage of composite laminates
  • Composite panel cut out and edge reinforcement
  • Repair of composite structures


Refer to option MSc course pages for breakdown of assessment.

Entry requirements

A first or second class UK Honours degree (or equivalent) in an engineering discipline.

Applicants who do not fulfil the standard entry requirements can apply for the Pre-Masters programme, successful completion of which will qualify them for entry to this course for a second year of study.

English Language

If you are an international student you will need to provide evidence that you have achieved a satisfactory test result in an English qualification. Our minimum requirements are as follows:

  • IELTS Academic – 6.5 overall
  • TOEFL – 92
  • Pearson PTE Academic – 65
  • Cambridge English Scale – 180
  • Cambridge English: Advanced - C
  • Cambridge English: Proficiency – C

In addition to these minimum scores you are also expected to achieve a balanced score across all elements of the test. We reserve the right to reject any test score if any one element of the test score is too low.

We can only accept tests taken within two years of your registration date (with the exception of Cambridge English tests which have no expiry date).

Students requiring a Tier 4 (General) visa must ensure they can meet the English language requirements set out by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) and we recommend booking a IELTS for UKVI test.

Applicants who do not already meet the English language entry requirement for their chosen Cranfield course can apply to attend one of our Presessional English for Academic Purposes (EAP) courses. We offer Winter/Spring and Summer programmes each year to offer holders.

Your career

The MSc in Aerospace Vehicle Design is valued and respected by employers worldwide. The applied nature of this course ensures that our graduates are ready to be of immediate use to their future employer and has provided sufficient breadth of understanding of multi-discipline design to position them for accelerated career progression.

This course prepares graduates for careers as project design engineers, systems design, structural design or avionic engineers in aerospace or related industries, with the aim of progressing to technical management/chief engineer. Graduates from the MSc in Aerospace Vehicle Design can therefore look forward to a varied choice of challenging career opportunities in the above disciplines. 

Many of our graduates occupy very senior positions in their organisations, making valuable contributions to the international aerospace industry. Typical student destinations include BAE Systems, Airbus, Dassault and Rolls-Royce.