MSc in Airport Planning and Management

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


A unique course created to meet a demand clearly stated by employers for graduates skilled and qualified in airport business development, planning, design, operations and environmental management. Study at the only UK university campus with a fully operational airport.

Who is it for?

Cranfield University is the only university in the world to run an English language master's course in airport planning and management. Achieving this highly relevant and globally respected degree will enable you to stand out in a competitive employment market.

Cranfield's Centre for Air Transport Management combines a wealth of practical expertise with extensive research, consultancy and teaching experience in one centre of excellence. We have been providing postgraduate education for almost sixty years. You can be sure that your qualification will be valued and respected by employers throughout the world.

Why this course?

In addition to management, communication, team work and research skills, you will attain the following learning outcomes from this course:

A systematic understanding of relevant international and national regulations and the ability to explain their effects on airport business, planning, design, operations and safety management decisions
A critical awareness of the key issues that affect users of airport facilities (e.g. airlines and retailers) and the ability to explain the impact of their commercial pressures, strategic decisions and priorities on airport business, planning, design, operations and safety management decisions
How to identify, analyse and design solutions in order to address a given research problem within the context of airport planning and management, having regard to regulatory constraints and commercial and environmental imperatives
Undertake and successfully complete a substantial programme of independent research, applying robust methods of data collection and analysis, and communicating the findings coherently.

Cranfield University is very well located for visiting students from all over the world, and offers a range of library and support facilities to support your studies. This MSc programme benefits from students from a wide range of cultural backgrounds which significantly enhances the learning experience for both staff and students.

Informed by Industry

Directed by an industrial advisory committee comprising senior representatives from leading airports and associated sectors. This group meets annually to ensure that the course content will equip you with the skills and knowledge required by leading employers.

Industrial Advisory Committee members include:

  • Catherine Ashman, Senior Airport Planner, Arup
  • Anna Gawthorpe, Safety and Compliance Manager, Execujet
  • Andrew Gibson, International Technical Director - Aviation, CH2M HILL
  • Andy Jefferson, Programme Director, UK Sustainable Aviation
  • Rob Rushmer, Director, Leigh Fisher
  • Richard Timberlake, Director - Transportation, Dar Group

Your teaching team

You will be taught by Cranfield’s Centre for Air Transport Management’s leading expects and recognised external specialists. This multi-disciplinary group includes a unique blend of airport economists, transport geographers, marketing specialists, and aeronautical engineers with strong publication records and industry experience. Members of the teaching team include:

  • Dr Thomas Budd
  • Dr Keith Mason.

We are particularly proud of the wide range of seminars and guest lectures offered to our students, given by global leaders in the aviation industry. Past speakers included the CEOs of London City Airport, Birmingham Airport, London Gatwick Airport and the International Airlines Group whose subsidiaries include British Airways and Iberia.

You will have support from the Course Director for any academic matters, the Course Administrator for administrative matters, and the Co-ordinator and individual supervisors for individual research project work. You will also have the additional support of a personal tutor for the duration of your study programme.


The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport

Course details

Nine compulsory taught modules, a group project and an individual research project.

Group project

In April students are divided into groups of seven to ten, and asked to solve a current airport planning and management challenge. The group project draws upon the learning from the taught modules and applies it to real-life simulation. Each member is required to take responsibility for a key area, for example, market analysis, capital expenditure forecast or terminal design. The group submits a report of their findings and recommendations and delivers a presentation to staff, students and industry experts. 

Projects are usually supported by industry and potential future employers value this experience. Industry involvement is an integral component to the group project, to give you first-hand experience of working within real life challenging situations.  

Previous Group Projects have included:

Evaluating the business case for extending the runway at Birmingham Airport
The preparation of development plans for two new airports in South-West England
Designing a new passenger terminal for Leeds-Bradford International Airport.

Individual project

The individual research project is the single largest component of this course and is an opportunity to study a problem in detail. Sponsoring organisations may co-operate in the choice of a suitable subject. Project topics vary widely and are often based on your area of interest. The individual research project component typically takes place between April and August.

Previous individual research projects have included:

An analysis of the hubbing strategy of Air France/KLM at Amsterdam Schiphol airport
The implications of secondary slot trading on airport revenues
Air traffic distribution in a multi-airport environment; the Mumbai metropolitan region


Taught modules 50%, Group project 10%, Individual research project 40%

Compulsory modules

All the modules in the following list need to be taken as part of this course

  • Introduction to the Air Transport Industry
  • Regulatory Policy and Air Law
  • Research Methods and Statistics
  • Air Transport Market Analysis and Forecasting
  • Airport Strategic Planning
  • Airport Environmental Planning
  • Airport Operations
  • Airport Design
  • Airport Finance and Business Management

Entry requirements

A first or upper second class UK honours degree with at least a 2.1. (or non-UK equivalent) in any discipline. A recognised professional qualification plus a number of years’ relevant working experience may be accepted as an equivalent.

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 – 7
  • TOEFL – 100
  • Pearson PTE Academic – 68
  • Cambridge English Scale – 190
  • 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

Working in an airport environment offers varied and exciting career possibilities. Graduates should be able to pursue a career working for an airport authority in business development, operations, design and planning or with one of the many planning and management consultancies that advise airports across the world.

Our passion for the areas of expertise we operate in, and our hands-on relationship with industry are unparalleled. This is recognised globally by potential employers and we have a proven record of graduate employment across airports, consultancies and associated industries.

Previous graduates have secured employment with a range of companies including:

  • Arup
  • Jacobs Consultancy
  • Mott MacDonald
  • Airbus
  • Korean Airports Corporation
  • Malaysian Airports
  • SH&E
  • Aviation Economics
  • Heathrow Airport

We also provide access to our exclusive LinkedIn Cranfield University - Air Transport Group, which offers unrivalled networking and job opportunities.