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Comparative analysis of top 10 UK aviation courses, with extensive information about universities and their aviation degrees


In this report, we take a detailed look at the some of the top universities in the UK offering aviation and aeronautics courses, including a comparison of the cost, courses offered, course content, duration of study for each.



Introduction

The aviation industry plays a fundamental role in the growth of any economy, as it supports a range of industries such as tourism, transport and even the military. As such, it is a high priority for governments across the world to ensure that aviation professionals receive excellent training and the best possible qualifications from reputable universities. This report undertakes a comparative analysis of the top 10 U.K. aviation universities, providing key information and insights into the courses available to students.

The report is divided into four sections: a table illustrating a summary of the findings from different universities; a summary of the history of aviation education in the U.K.; some additional in-depth information about each university’s aviation courses; and some perspectives on the future of aviation in general.

Summary of the top aviation courses in UK universities


University

World ranking 2017

Aviation programmes offered

Pilot training programmes offered

Aviation facilities

Cost per year of studies

Cost of accommodation per year

Course length

Brunel University London

345

Aviation Engineering

Aviation Engineering with Pilot Studies

Aerospace Engineering

Aviation Engineering with Pilot Studies

Virtual reality on-site aircraft flight testing simulators

U.K./E.U. students: £9,250 + £1,000 placement

International students: £18,000

£11,385

Three years full-time

Four years full-time with sandwich year

Kingston University London

550

Aviation Operations with Commercial Pilot Training BSc (Hons)

Aviation Operations and Technology BSc (Hons)

Aviation Operations with Commercial Pilot Training

Learjet lab

Space mission control room

Drop tower

U.K./E.U. students: £9,250 (plus £70,000 for Bournemouth Commercial Flight Training for Aviation Operations with Commercial Pilot Training)

International students: £13,700

£7,324 if living on-campus

£11,354 if living off-campus

Three years full-time

Four years full-time with sandwich year

Staffordshire University

101-125

Aeronautical Engineering

Aeronautical Engineering

Engineering labs

Flight simulators

Undergraduate: U.K./E.U. students: £9,250

International students: £11,100

Postgraduate: U.K./E.U. students: £7,350

International students: £12,750

Stoke: £1820 - £4940

Stafford: £2500 - £5980

BEng: three years full-time or four years full-time with sandwich year

MEng: Four year full-time

University of Sheffield

84

Aerospace Engineering

Aerospace Engineering

Flight simulators

Jet engine simulators

Jet engines

Wind tunnels

U.K./E.U. students: £9,250

International students: £16,800 to £21,450

£9,135 (Undergraduate) - £12,180 (Postgraduate)

Three years full-time

Four years full-time with sandwich year

University of Hertfordshire

751-800

Aerospace Technology with Management

Aerospace Technology with Pilot Studies

Aerospace Technology with Pilot Studies

Flight simulators

Wind tunnels

Specialist labs

CAE software

U.K./E.U. students: £9,250 full-time or £1,115 per 15 credits part-time

International students: £11,950 full-time or £1,500 per 15 credits part-time

£9,880 - £12,480

Three years full-time

Six years part-time

Four years full-time with sandwich year

University of Leeds

93

Aviation Technology and Management

Aviation Technology with Pilot Studies

Aviation Technology with Pilot Studies

Airbus A320 cockpit simulator

Twin-engine FNPTII aircraft simulator

U.K./E.U. students: £9,250

International students: £22,750

£6,968 - £11,284

Three years full-time

University of Liverpool

157

Aerospace Engineering

Aerospace Engineering with Pilot Studies

Aerospace Engineering with Pilot Studies

Heli-flight simulator

X-flight pilot simulator

Wind turbines

Water flume

U.K./E.U. students: £9,250

International students: £19,700

£6,000 - £8,000

BEng: Three years full-time

MEng: Four years full-time

University of Salford

751-800

Aeronautic Engineering

Aircraft Engineering with Pilot Studies

Aircraft Engineering with Pilot Studies

Merlin MP520-T engineering simulator

Elite flight training system

U.K./E.U. students: £9,250

International students: £14,400

£15,180 if living in London, £12,180 if living elsewhere in the U.K.

BEng: Three years full-time

MEng: Four years full-time

University of the West of England

601-800

Aerospace Engineering

Aerospace Engineering with pilot studies

Aerospace Engineering with pilot studies

Subsonic and supersonic wind tunnels

Flight simulators and core modelling software

U.K./E.U. students: £9,250

International students: £12,750

£5,334 - £10,200

BEng: Three years full-time

MEng: Four years full-time

University of Nottingham

801-1000

Aerospace Engineering

Aerospace Engineering

Space tunnels

Flight simulators

U.K./E.U. students: £9,250

International students: £21,060

£12,180 (Students must show financial evidence of their ability to cover this cost when applying)

BEng: Three years full-time

MEng: Four years full-time

The above table reveals several important findings that are useful to students applying for aviation courses at top U.K. universities:

  • Leeds, Liverpool and Sheffield are all ranked within the top 200 universities in the world in the QS World University Rankings 2019, while the other institutions listed are ranked 300 and above. This shows that universities with excellent global standards of education typically offer highly-rated aviation courses. For instance, the University of Sheffield is ranked 84th globally, while its aviation program is ranked 9th.
  • Despite the differences between various universities’ aviation and aeronautical courses, they all tend to utilise similar teaching facilities such as flight simulators and engine simulators. This indicates that aviation schools are realising the importance of meeting industry needs by equipping their labs with the latest technologies.
  • Many aviation schools offer both three-year and sandwich options to suit students’ needs. Universities use their links with industry partners to facilitate sandwich-year student placements.

History of aviation education and aviation universities in the U.K.

  • Soon after the Wright brothers’ first successful flight [1], universities around the world started offering aviation education programmes, led by France and Germany.
  • The military’s adoption of aeroplanes significantly facilitated the development of aviation education in the U.K., beginning with the launch of the Royal Aeronautical Society in London in 1866. At the time, the Wright brothers were manually instructing army officials on flying the Signal Corps Airplane No. 1 without further formal training, but as the army continued using the aircraft, the Air Education and Training Command was formed in order to facilitate the activities.
  • Imperial College London claimed to be the first institution to teach a course in aeronautics in 1909 [2]. However, most of the formal training on aeronautics was observed in America, where universities such as Michigan began offering four-year courses as early as 1916.
  • In 1946, the University of Cranfield was formed as the U.K.’s College of Aeronautics.
  • After the 1950s, more institutions began offering aviation courses, leading to further development of the courses that are still used in the modern day.

Aviation courses at top universities in the U.K.

Brunel University London offers three aviation and aeronautics courses

Brunel University entrance sign and part of the university building lit up by lights in the evening.
Brunel University entrance sign and part of the university building lit up by lights in the evening.

Brunel University London offers three aviation and aeronautics courses: Aviation Engineering, aimed at students seeking senior operational engineering roles without flying; Aviation Engineering with Pilot Studies, a specialist degree for aspiring pilots [3] that enables students to obtain their private pilot license (PPL); and Aerospace Engineering, which teaches technical, analytical and professional skills.

Brunel University London’s close proximity to Heathrow and other London airports gives students the chance to conduct site visits and secure graduate placements. The university’s aviation courses are accredited by the Institute of Mechanical Engineers and the Royal Aeronautical Society, ensuring students receive a high standard of education; and the university has its own flight simulators, which are essential in equipping students with practical piloting skills [4].

Brunel University London was awarded its charter in 1966 [5], but traces its history back to the early 18th Century when colleges such as Maria Grey, Shoreditch and West London Institute existed. In 1980, Brunel merged with Shoreditch College and the Runnymede campus was established. In 2014, a new University Technical College (UTC) was created in Uxbridge to focus on developing aviation engineers [6]. The university’s graduates have gone on to hold high positions in the aviation industry; including Paul Kahn, who graduated in 1990 with a BEng in Engineering [7] and went on to serve as CEO and president of Airbus.

Brunel University London’s Department of Mechanical & Aerospace and Civil Engineering boasts a diverse faculty, ranging from professionals and technicians to research fellows and academics. Notable faculty members include Professor Hamid Bahai and Dr. Miltiadis Kourmpetis, who between them have published over 20 papers in international journals and had their works cited in numerous journals.

Each of Brunel’s three aviation courses takes three years to complete full-time at Bachelor’s level or four years with a sandwich year. A Master’s takes four years full-time or five years with a sandwich year. Statistics from an external source reveal that about 82% of Aviation Engineering with Pilot Studies students are from the U.K., while 18% are international [8]. The source also indicates that 89% are male, while only 11% are female.

Brunel equips students with the necessary skills to become professional pilots and obtain both commercial and private pilot licenses. Students undertake a mixture of theoretical coursework and practical hands-on skills, with the opportunity to visit nearby London airports and use the university’s virtual reality aircraft flight-testing simulators [9].

The university offers various bursaries and scholarships for prospective undergraduate students who may not be able to afford the cost of tuition [10]. Eligibility criteria and bursary amounts vary; for instance, the Brunel Bursary offers £1,000 per year without requiring students to apply, whereas the £3,000-a-year Urban Scholarship requires email applications and applicants must be part of the Urban Scholars programme.

Brunel University London partners with several aviation companies in its mission to advance its Research and Development (R&D) initiatives, with notable partners including Airbus, Eurocopter, Agustawestland and Lockheed Martin [11]. The university offers valuable research insights into these institutions, who in turn provide graduate placement and career opportunities.

Evidence suggests that most of Brunel’s aeronautical graduates begin their careers as commercial pilots. The university indicates that most go on to work for companies including the Royal Air Force (RAF), Ministry of Defence, GE Energy, Caterpillar and Qinetiq Group. [12] Notable alumni include a first officer at British Airways and a flight operations engineer at Virgin Atlantic [13].

Before students can apply to Brunel University London’s aviation school, it is important they cross-check the entry requirements set by the university for each academic year. [14] Similarly, students should check their eligibility for bursaries, as courses can be quite expensive. Understanding such aspects in advance helps in planning ahead for the course.

Are you one of the aviation greats of tomorrow? Speak to us about applying for a course at one of the above universities and we’ll do our best to provide some helpful advice. ACS also provides aviation and flying scholarships for many of the best aviation universities in the UK and all around the world. Find out more on our Aviation Scholarships and Student Grants page.



Kingston University London offers two undergraduate aviation courses

View of boats on the thames and flats in Kingston Upon Thames.
View of boats on the thames and flats in Kingston Upon Thames.

Kingston University London offers two courses for students seeking accreditation in aviation and aeronautics: Aviation Operations with Commercial Pilot Training and Aviation Operations and Technology. [15] The former is designed for aspiring commercial airline pilots, while the latter provides technical knowledge on the operation of aircraft and infrastructure in the aviation industry. It also equips students with the analytical, business and project management skills needed to deliver economic benefits to the aviation industry.

Kingston has invested heavily in industry-standard equipment and labs to provide its students with hands-on learning and allow them to conduct aeronautical experiments. Some of the high-tech facilities available include flight simulators, space mission control rooms and a drop tower offering weightless environments. [16]

The university dates back to 1899, when Kingston Technical Institute was established. Initial offerings included courses such as Electrical Wiring and Building. Nearly a century later, in 1992, the Institute was awarded a university charter. While the university’s website doesn’t explicitly state when it began offering aviation courses, the Roehampton Vale engineering campus opened in 1993 and started building sophisticated equipment such as a Learjet hangar. [17]

Kingston University London has produced many noteworthy aviation professionals – including Aeronautical Engineering graduates Brian O’Rourke, now chief composites engineer at Formula 1 car constructor WilliamsF1; and David King, who pioneered research that led to the creation of new aircraft maintenance regulations, training and approaches.

Important faculty members at the university’s Department of Aerospace and Aircraft Engineering include Professor Jian Wang and Dr. Homayoun Hadavinia. Wang has won accolades such as the Institution of Mechanical Engineers’ Kenneth Harris James Prize and George Stephenson Prize, and has over 79 publications in international journals. [18] Dr. Homayoun, meanwhile, has published over 108 papers and designs, models and manufactures FRP composites for aerospace structures, wind turbines and multifunctional applications. [19]

Research indicates that 93% of students on the Aviation Operations with Commercial Pilot Training course are from the UK, while only 7% are international. Similarly, 90% are male, while 10% are female. [20] The two aviation courses offered by the university each take three years to complete on a full-time basis and four years as a sandwich course.

Kingston University London strives to equip the pilots of the future with the diverse skill-sets needed to overcome industry challenges, with students exposed to practical, hands-on training as early as possible in their academic life. Theoretical coursework is intertwined with practical activities such as lab testing, flight simulation and site visits to local airports, while guest lecturers from the industry are invited to teach about the latest technology trends.

Kingston University offers bursaries for undergraduate students, which vary based on the academic year. For instance, 250 bursaries worth £2,000 each are to be awarded to students starting in September 2018. [21] The university partners with several aviation companies to maximise its flight training offerings. For instance, students can complete their foundation degree at Bournemouth Commercial Flight Training (BCFT) [22] and complete practical studies at global aviation schools.

Kingston University London prepares students for careers in commercial aviation. Many graduates go on to work at commercial airlines such as EasyJet, Emirates and Cathay Pacific, as well as becoming flight instructors at different flight schools. [23]

Before applying to study on an aviation course at Kingston University, prospective students should consider the living and tuition costs, campus location and the fact that all courses are taught in English. Applications are processed online through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). [24]

Are you one of the aviation greats of tomorrow? Speak to us about applying for a course at one of the above universities and we’ll do our best to provide some helpful advice. ACS also provides aviation and flying scholarships for many of the best aviation universities in the UK and all around the world. Find out more on our Aviation Scholarships and Student Grants page.



Staffordshire University offers Aeronautical Engineering courses at Bachelor’s and Master’s Levels

Outside of Staffordshire University on a sunny day.
Outside of Staffordshire University on a sunny day.

Staffordshire University offers an Aeronautical Engineering course at Bachelor’s and Master’s levels. [25] The former option is designed for those wanting to work either as pilots, engineers or managers, and equips them with both hands-on skills and theoretical concepts. The latter is suited to aspiring aeronautical engineers.

The course offers students the opportunity to undertake practical coursework in the school’s engineering laboratory and carry out experiments augmented by computer-based simulations. Students enrolling for the BSc (Hons) can also learn how to fly a glider within their first year. By the third year, students can exhibit their work to the world at the GradEX graduate exhibit. [26]

Staffordshire University was established in 1992. Its predecessor, North Staffordshire Polytechnic, was formed in 1971 following the merger of several colleges. Many graduates from the university have secured pilot roles at companies such as British Airways, Etihad, Virgin Atlantic, Monarch and the RAF; while others work as engineers at firms like Rolls Royce, Eurocopter and General Electric.

Faculty members at the aviation school include senior lecturer Martin Fiddler, a member of the Royal Aeronautical Society and fellow of the Higher Education Academy whose expertise includes aircraft flight, aircraft propulsion systems and supersonic flight; [27] and Debi Roberts, a lecturer in Transport Engineering whose specialist areas include automotive and aeronautical aerodynamics and engine design. [28]

External statistics show that 88% of undergraduate and postgraduate students are from the U.K. and 12% are international, with a 95% male/5% female gender split. [29] The undergraduate course takes three years to complete full-time or four years with a placement year, while the Master’s course takes one year full-time or two years when a placement year is added.

Staffordshire University maintains a positive outlook towards the future of aviation in the U.K. and courses emphasise core aeronautical principles such as propulsion systems and flight deck design. The university provides aviation students with practical hands-on experience in its modern, state-of-the-art labs, where they can interact with computer simulations and flight simulators in addition to physically flying aeroplanes. Practical skills are further enhanced during sandwich-year placements.

Bursaries and financial assistance are offered to help with the cost of tuition and university accommodation. The amounts offered vary based on the academic year, where students live and their household incomes. For instance, the maximum amount students can receive for 2018/2019 is £8,700. [30] Scholarships, loans and grants are also provided.

The university partners with several U.K. organisations, such as colleges and private firms, in a bid to enhance its knowledge transfer initiatives. [31] Key partners include the National Motorsport Academy to facilitate online distance learning; and the Armed Forces to deliver certified courses to the military. Most Staffordshire graduates become commercial pilots, with alumni working for companies such as Etihad, British Airways, the RAF and Virgin Atlantic.

Prospective students should assess the entry requirements before applying to Staffordshire’s aviation school. Undergraduates need 112 UCAS entry points with A levels and BTEC qualifications, while at postgraduate level the entry requirement is at least a 2:2 honours degree or equivalent in a technology-related field. Where English is not the student’s first language, the MSc requires a minimum score of IELTS 6 or TOEFL 550. Students are also advised to evaluate their financial requirements and determine whether to apply for bursary funding.

Are you one of the aviation greats of tomorrow? Speak to us about applying for a course at one of the above universities and we’ll do our best to provide some helpful advice. ACS also provides aviation and flying scholarships for many of the best aviation universities in the UK and all around the world. Find out more on our Aviation Scholarships and Student Grants page.



University of Sheffield’s undergraduate and postgraduate Aerospace Engineering courses

Red brick University of Sheffield Building
Red brick University of Sheffield Building

The University of Sheffield offers an Aerospace Engineering course at both undergraduate and postgraduate level. The former is suited to those seeking a broad scope of transferable skills that are attractive to diverse employers, while the latter is aimed at individuals seeking a career as a professional engineer. [32]

The university’s close industry links enable students to gain work experience before graduating; it has partnered with some of the world’s leading engineering firms, such as Land Rover and Rolls Royce. Students also have use of Sheffield’s sophisticated laboratories, which are equipped with state-of-the-art equipment ranging from flight simulators to wind tunnels and jet engines.

The University of Sheffield’s engineering department was founded in 1897. [33] At the time, the university offered engineering education in civil and structural engineering, mechanical engineering and electrical and electronic engineering. Details regarding the establishment of the current aviation course aren’t available on the university’s website.

Various noteworthy professionals have studied at the university; most famously Amy Johnson, the first woman to fly solo from Britain to Australia [34], whose achievements resulted in the university offering scholarships to aspiring female engineering students. Additionally, 2017 Aerospace Engineering graduate Salma Dwikartika now works as a graduate mechanical engineer at Safran Landing Systems. [35]

The University of Sheffield’s faculty staff includes school director Dr. Martin Jackson, [36] who has published numerous papers in international journals and book chapters. He graduated with an MEng and worked in aerospace materials at Rolls Royce, before completing a PhD at the Imperial College of London. Dr. Jackson has expertise in solid state processes, particularly when working with titanium-based alloys.

Details of the exact number of students who enroll in the university’s aviation course are not published online. However, statistics from an external source indicate that 75% are from the UK and 25% are international students. Furthermore, 91% are male, while 9% are female. [37]

The University of Sheffield’s Aerospace Engineering course takes three years to complete at undergraduate level and four years at postgraduate level. Students are prepared for a future in aviation by highly skilled professionals with industry experience and the school also provides the use of highly sophisticated facilities, such as Merlin static flight simulators, X-plane flight simulators, Wren jet engines and Armfield subsonic wind tunnels.

The university offers bursaries and scholarships to students, who can choose between fee waivers and direct payments. Students must receive approval from the Student Finance department in order to be eligible for a bursary. [38] The university also partners with leading engineering firms such as Airbus, Rolls Royce, Boeing and Land Rover to offer graduate placements and site visits, with Boeing also providing £3,000 scholarships for outstanding students.

A review of the university’s alumni profiles shows that most graduates go on to work in the commercial flight industry, [39] with examples including an applications engineer at Caterpillar and a graduate engineer at Nissan. Students also secure jobs in aerospace design, aviation, transport manufacturing and the Armed Forces in organisations like British Airways, Boeing, Airbus and the Royal Navy.

Before applying to study at Sheffield’s aviation school, students are advised to thoroughly review the different courses and entry requirements. The university accepts students with a wide range of backgrounds and credentials, ranging from A Levels and Cambridge Pre-U to international baccalaureate and BTEC qualifications. [40] Students should also review the financial implications and decide whether to apply for a bursary in advance.

Are you one of the aviation greats of tomorrow? Speak to us about applying for a course at one of the above universities and we’ll do our best to provide some helpful advice. ACS also provides aviation and flying scholarships for many of the best aviation universities in the UK and all around the world. Find out more on our Aviation Scholarships and Student Grants page.



University of Hertfordshire offers two aviation courses at undergraduate and postgraduate levels

Outside view of one of the University of Hertfordshire buildings on a nice sunny day
Outside view of one of the University of Hertfordshire buildings on a nice sunny day

The University of Hertfordshire offers two aviation and aeronautical courses at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels: Aerospace Technology with Management and Aerospace Technology with Pilot Studies. [41] The former educates students on aspects such as design, vehicle design, production, management and business studies; while the latter focuses more on practical piloting skills at internationally recognised flight centres in the U.S.A. and U.K., as well as university flight simulators.

The piloting course awards the highest-flying students scholarships to extend their training after graduation.Students are admitted with a broad range of qualifications to encourage more applications, and have access to highly sophisticated equipment in high-tech university labs, allowing them to attain strong qualifications suitable for the work environment.

The University of Hertfordshire was awarded a charter in 1992, when there were about 5,000 students studying at the facility. [42] The university website confirms that the Science and Technology Centre opened in 1997 and a flight simulator was installed at the campus in 2002, but doesn’t outline when the aviation school was established.

Several noteworthy aeronautical professionals have studied here, including Bliss Aviation’s chief flying instructor for helicopters, Jim Hammett, who graduated with a BEng in Aerospace Engineering in 2000. During his tenure at the university, he interned at British Airways before taking up graduate positions at aerospace and defense company Amsafe Bridpot and engineering firm Centrax. [43]

The aviation school’s faculty members include Dr. Rachel Cunliffe and Dr. Peter Thomas. Dr. Cunliffe is a senior lecturer with expertise in fields such as aircraft systems, avionic systems, embedded systems and flight mechanic. She previously worked at BAE Systems’ military division and Yue Yang power stations in China, where she contributed to the development of computer-based systems. [44] Dr. Thomas lectures on concepts such as aerodynamics, flight mechanics and aeroelasticity. [45]

While the university’s website indicates the school’s student population was 24,600 in 2017, details regarding their distribution on different courses are not published. However, statistics from a different source indicate that 74% of students registered for the undergraduate Aerospace Technology with Pilot Studies course are U.K.-based, while 26% are international. Furthermore, 90% are male and 10% female. [46]

Each of the university’s two aviation courses takes three years to complete in full-time mode, four years as a sandwich course and six years on a part-time basis. To ensure students acquire the right skills for the industry, courses are accredited by regulators RAes and IMechE. Flights are offered at nationally recognised flight centres and placements can be arranged with global aviation organisations like British Airways and Virgin Atlantic.

The university offers bursaries and scholarships for students meeting various eligibility criteria, such as living in an area of low progression from the university and having a household income of £25,000 or less. [47]

The University of Hertfordshire maintains partnerships with U.K.-based and global firms in a bid to raise its profile and develop its capacities. Working with academic support partners and international franchises such as Airbus, Duxford Aviation company, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic enables students to secure placements in the industry.,/p>

A review of alumni profiles indicates that most graduates go on to work for commercial companies. Before applying to the aviation school, it is important that students review living costs, tuition fees and their eligibility for a bursary. Applicants should also be aware that the registration process is conducted online.

Are you one of the aviation greats of tomorrow? Speak to us about applying for a course at one of the above universities and we’ll do our best to provide some helpful advice. ACS also provides aviation and flying scholarships for many of the best aviation universities in the UK and all around the world. Find out more on our Aviation Scholarships and Student Grants page.



University of Leeds - Aviation Technology, Management and Pilot Studies

Panoramic view of the city of Leeds at night.
Panoramic view of the city of Leeds at night.

The University of Leeds offers two aviation and aeronautical courses: Aviation Technology and Management and Aviation Technology with Pilot Studies. [48] The former is designed to impart skills in managing aviation operations such as finance, engineering materials and aircraft safety; while the latter provides the foundational concepts and aviation knowledge required to fly professionally.

The university is ranked among the top 100 institutions worldwide and was awarded the Gold Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF). Its general engineering research facilities have been rated ‘internationally excellent’ [49] and students have the chance to interact with academics who are leaders in their fields. A personal tutorial system sees students mentored throughout their studies.

The university’s history goes back to 1904, when it was awarded a charter. [50] Notable graduates from the aviation school include Flybe cadet Justin Ramchurn and British Airways technical engineer Scott Falkiner. [51] Head of Aviation Jill Tushingham [52] has immense experience in the aviation industry, both as an instructor and a pilot. External statistics highlight that in 2018, 74% of students who enrolled on the Aviation Technology with Pilot Studies course were from the UK, while 26% were international. 83% were male and 17% were female. [53]

Each of the University of Leeds’ two aviation courses takes three years to complete on a full-time basis. In order to prepare aviation graduates for the future, students are required to first cover theoretical concepts in order to deepen their understanding of core aspects. They must also complete a project each year, before undertaking hands-on coursework using state-of-the-art equipment such as an Airbus A320 airliner cockpit simulator and a twin-engine FNPTII aircraft simulator. Placements are also provided with leading airlines to further develop their skills.

The university offers scholarships for undergraduate students with household incomes of less than £42,875 per year. Students’ eligibility is determined by the university, with successful applicants awarded a sum of £3,000 per year for three years. [54] Various organisations also partner with the university on knowledge transfer partnerships, whereby the school undertakes projects for firms in the U.K. and around the globe such as Lockheed Martin, Boeing and the U.S. Air Force. The partners fund the projects while the university provides key insight for strategic management.

Most graduates enjoy careers at commercial airlines and other aviation companies, with examples including a pilot at Qatar Airways, an air traffic controller for the RAF and a network executive at British Airways. [55]

Students can apply to the University of Leeds’ aviation school via UCAS. It is recommended that applicants review the entry requirements for A Levels and GCSEs before applying. The university provides international students with a pre-sessional English course to help improve their English language, with an overall IELTS of 6.0 required.

Are you one of the aviation greats of tomorrow? Speak to us about applying for a course at one of the above universities and we’ll do our best to provide some helpful advice. ACS also provides aviation and flying scholarships for many of the best aviation universities in the UK and all around the world. Find out more on our Aviation Scholarships and Student Grants page.



University of Liverpool provides two aviation and aeronautical courses

Red brick University of Liverpool building.
Red brick University of Liverpool building.

Students can choose from two aviation and aeronautical courses at the University of Liverpool: Aerospace Engineering and Aerospace Engineering with Pilot Studies, both available to study at either undergraduate or postgraduate level. [56] While both courses equip students with fundamental engineering concepts such as propulsion systems, flight dynamics and aerodynamics, the latter introduces aspects of pilot studies, with the first year based on the Private Pilots Licence (PPL) and the second year on the Airline Transport Pilot Licence (ATPL).

The University of Liverpool is ranked among the top 200 universities worldwide and associated with nine Nobel Laureates. Its aviation courses are accredited by Royal Aeronautical Society and the Institute of Mechanical Engineering and offer students the opportunity to study at a sister campus in China.

The university was founded in 1882 and awarded its charter in 1903. Interestingly, it was also the first institution in the U.K to establish departments in subjects such as oceanography, civic design, architecture and biochemistry. Various notable alumni have studied here; including Dr. Matt Taylor, who served as a project scientist for the European Sports Agency Rosetta mission. [57]

Notable faculty members include Ken Badcock, a professor of Computational Aerodynamics and the Pro Vice Chancellor of the School of Engineering; and programme director Dr. Sebastian Timme, a senior lecturer in Mechanical Materials and Aerospace Engineering. Both have published numerous papers in international journals and undertaken diverse research projects [58] [59].

Statistics from the university website reveal that around 352 first-year students were enrolled in Aerospace Engineering with Pilot Studies in 2017. Further figures from a different source indicate that 74% of students enrolling for the course are from the U.K., while 26% are international. In addition, 88% are male while 12% are female. [60]

Both courses take three years to complete at undergraduate level and four years at postgraduate level. The university seeks to empower its students to attain the latest practical and hands-on industry standard skills by facilitating placements at blue chip companies such as ABB, BAE Systems and the British Army. In addition, students have access to highly sophisticated equipment such as the Heliflight simulator, the X-flight pilot simulator, wind turbines and a water flume.

The University of Liverpool offers a wide range of bursaries and scholarships for talented students, including the Liverpool Bursary, Care Leavers Opportunity Bursary, Hillsborough Trust Fund and Asylum Seekers’ Bursary. Regulations ensure that only eligible students receive financial assistance.

The university partners with diverse players in the industry such as Jaguar, Land Rover, Toyota, Network Rail and BAE systems as it seeks to maximise graduate opportunities, career prospects and graduate placements. These partnerships help to further enhance knowledge transfer and collaboration between the university and the aviation industry. Most graduates secure employment at commercial institutions like British Airways, Airbus, the Royal Navy and government organisations.

In order to successfully apply to the University of Liverpool’s aviation school, it is important that applicants review the entry requirements and financial procedures and fees. Applications are made online via UCAS.

Are you one of the aviation greats of tomorrow? Speak to us about applying for a course at one of the above universities and we’ll do our best to provide some helpful advice. ACS also provides aviation and flying scholarships for many of the best aviation universities in the UK and all around the world. Find out more on our Aviation Scholarships and Student Grants page.



University of Salford - Aeronautical Engineering and Aircraft Engineering with Pilot Studies

University of Salford entrance.
University of Salford entrance.

The University of Salford, Manchester offers courses in Aeronautical Engineering and Aircraft Engineering with Pilot Studies. [61] The Aeronautic Engineering course is designed to produce graduates who meet the technical engineering requirements in the industry; while the Aircraft Engineering with Pilot Studies course combines the principles of aircraft engineering with the practical and theoretical aspects of flying, as well as enabling students to obtain their PPL.

Both aviation courses are accredited by the RAS and IMechE, and students are encouraged to use flight simulators to enter international competitions. A huge 90% of graduates secure employment within six months of finishing their studies. The university traces its history to 1967, when the Royal College of Advanced Technology was awarded a charter and became the University of Salford. [62]

Celebrated alumni from the aviation school include Jamil Khalil and Behrooz Barzegar. Khalil graduated with a BSc in Aeronautics in 2006 and went on to work as a top executive for Airbus, before later securing £1m in venture capital to develop social media platform Wakelet. Barzegar, meanwhile, graduated in the 1970s with an MSc in Air Transportation and a BSc in Aeronautical Science and has enjoyed an aeronautics career spanning over 35 years, first at British Aerospace and continuing at Airbus. [63]

Notable faculty staff include Dr. Thurai Rahulan and Dr. Philip Atcliffe. Dr. Rahulan is a senior lecturer in Aeronautics, teaching concepts such as flight mechanics, aircraft systems, aircraft designs and aeroelasticity, as well as a council member of the RAS and Chairman of the Association of Aerospace Universities. [64] Dr. Atcliffe is a senior lecturer in Aeronautical Engineering and teaches concepts such as aerodynamics, flight dynamics, aircraft design and thermodynamics. He is also a member of the RAS, a chartered engineer and a STEMNet ambassador. [65]

Sources indicate that 81% of applicants for the Aircraft Engineering with Pilot Studies course are based in the U.K. and 19% are international; while 89% are male and 11% are female. [66] Aeronautic Engineering takes four years to complete, while Aircraft Engineering with Pilot Studies takes three years full-time or four years with a placement year added.

The University of Salford prides itself on its outstandingly high graduate employment rates and strong industry links. Students are prepared for their future careers through rigorous training and the integration of practical hands-on skills within theoretical coursework. They also benefit from using the university’s Merlin MP520-T engineering simulator and Elite flight training system, comprised of a fixed-base Piper PA-34 Seneca III aircraft simulator.

The university provides bursaries that are competitively awarded to students. In some cases, students are required to apply for a bursary, while in others the school identifies eligible students. Bursaries include the Kennedy Memorial Trust, British Federation of Women Graduates and Sir Richard Stapley Education Trust. Several partnerships have also been forged with key players in the industry, such as DLR, Germany’s National Research Centre for Aeronautics and Space, with whom the university collaborates to boost capacity development and knowledge transfer. [67]

Over the years, graduates have secured positions at leading commercial aviation companies such as Goodrich, National Air Traffic Services (NATS) and CTC Aviation – commonly as pilots, air traffic control safety engineers or airworthiness engineers.

In order to successfully apply to the aviation school, it is important that students review the entry requirements in advance. The university provides an alternative Salford Alternative Entry Scheme (SAES) for applicants who fail to meet entry requirements. The courses are taught in English, so applicants should also ensure they are proficient in the language before applying.

Are you one of the aviation greats of tomorrow? Speak to us about applying for a course at one of the above universities and we’ll do our best to provide some helpful advice. ACS also provides aviation and flying scholarships for many of the best aviation universities in the UK and all around the world. Find out more on our Aviation Scholarships and Student Grants page.



University of the West of England offers two courses in Aviation and Aerospace Engineering

Bristol Harbourside and Clifton Suspension Bridge lit up just after sunset.
Bristol Harbourside and Clifton Suspension Bridge lit up just after sunset.

The University of the West of England, Bristol (UWE) offers two courses for aviation and aeronautical students: Aerospace Engineering and Aerospace Engineering with Pilot Studies. [68] Developed in collaboration with aerospace partners, both courses equip students with the necessary skills and engineering knowledge to design, build and manufacture aerospace vehicles; while the latter also empowers them to become certified pilots.

Third-year Aerospace Engineering with Pilot Studies students can take a flight test course in a real aircraft; while students on both courses have the chance to further enhance their capabilities by working on group projects such as the IMechE Unmanned Aerial Systems Challenge. The university also provides regular industry site visits and invites professionals to give informative briefings.

UWE was awarded its charter in 1992 and installed a flight simulator in 2002. [69] Notable graduates include Fraser Corsan, who achieved a BEng in Aerospace Manufacturing Engineering and is now a world record-breaking wingsuit pilot who set the record for the highest skydive (35,508ft) and longest freefall (246.6mph) in the U.K. and Europe. [70]

Some of the school’s preeminent faculty staff include Professor Yufeng Yao and Dr. Steve Wright. Yao is a professor of Aerospace Engineering and the current head of the Engineering Modelling and Simulation research group. His areas of expertise include fundamental flow physics using high fidelity simulation code and engineering turbulent flow problems by using industry standard computer code. [71] Dr. Wright is an associate professor of Aerospace Engineering and Knowledge Exchange with expertise in unmanned air vehicles, avionic systems, flow network modelling and much more. [72]

Statistics on admissions to the Aerospace Engineering with Pilot Studies course reveal that 83% of applicants are UK-based while 17% are international. Furthermore, 92% are male and 8% are female. [73]

The undergraduate Aerospace Engineering with Pilot Studies course takes three years to complete full-time or four years with a sandwich year; while the undergraduate Aerospace Engineering option takes four years full-time or five years as a sandwich course. Designed to answer an increasing demand for qualified aerospace engineers, both courses are created in collaboration with aerospace partners and students have access to high-tech facilities such as subsonic and supersonic wind tunnels, flight simulators and core modelling software. They can also visit airport sites and participate in international design competitions.

UWE provides bursaries for talented students with incomes below £25,000. [74] To provide more graduate placement opportunities and enhance its knowledge transfer practices, the university partners with various industry players such as aircraft manufacturer Airbus, which provides 50 to 80 graduates vacancies; and GE Aviation, a leading producer of jet engines for civil and military aircraft. [75] Most UWE graduates go on to work for commercial aviation companies such as Airbus, Boeing, Rolls-Royce and BAE Systems.[76]

In order to successfully apply to the school, students should familiarise themselves with the university’s application process and required GCSE and A Level qualifications. Applicants who don’t meet the entry criteria have the alternative option of taking foundation years.

Are you one of the aviation greats of tomorrow? Speak to us about applying for a course at one of the above universities and we’ll do our best to provide some helpful advice. ACS also provides aviation and flying scholarships for many of the best aviation universities in the UK and all around the world. Find out more on our Aviation Scholarships and Student Grants page.



University of Nottingham’s undergraduate and postgraduate Aerospace Engineering degrees

University building in Nottingham University Park.
University building in Nottingham University Park.

The University of Nottingham’s Aerospace Engineering [77] degree, available as either an undergraduate and postgraduate course, educates students on a range of subjects including propulsion and aerodynamics. Students have access to highly sophisticated teaching facilities and benefit from the university’s links with industry giants such as Boeing and Airbus, as well as overseas learning opportunities at the university’s campuses in China and Malaysia.

The University of Nottingham was awarded its charter in 1948 [78] and has continued to grow, opening overseas campuses. Graduates have won an array of accolades and awards, including the Nobel Prize. Faculty staff include Dr. Mark Jabbal, an assistant professor with expertise in areas such as aerodynamic flow control, synthetic jet actuators and experimental fluid mechanics; [79] and course director Dr. Kathy Simmons, whose specialisms include computational fluid dynamics, experimental fluids and applications. [80]

The university offers 100 undergraduate places on its Aeronautical Engineering course. 79% of applicants are based in the UK while 21% are international, with an 80% male/20% female gender split. [81] The undergraduate and postgraduate courses each take three years to complete on a full-time basis. Students are prepared for a career in aerospace engineering through access to high-tech equipment like space tunnels and flight simulators, along with flying lessons at a local airport.

The University of Nottingham offers bursaries and scholarships to talented prospective students, first-year students and continuing students based on set eligibility criteria. [82] It has also secured £75 million in research grants and valuable student placement opportunities through partnerships with industry giants such as Boeing and Airbus. The university maintains a long and successful partnership with Rolls Royce in researching aero-engine transmissions and manufacturing technologies. [83] Most engineering graduates from the university go on to work for world-renowned engineering firms like Boeing and Airbus.

Students wanting to apply to the University of Nottingham’s aviation school should thoroughly review the entry requirements and funding details, along with their eligibility for a bursary.

Are you one of the aviation greats of tomorrow? Speak to us about applying for a course at one of the above universities and we’ll do our best to provide some helpful advice. ACS also provides aviation and flying scholarships for many of the best aviation universities in the UK and all around the world. Find out more on our Aviation Scholarships and Student Grants page.



Summary and thoughts about the future of aviation and aviation studies

The review of the different aviation programmes offered across U.K. universities highlights several important findings:

  • Institutions recognise the importance of equipping students with industry-required skills through hands-on training with state-of-the-art facilities and modern engineering labs. For instance, all of the universities reviewed have flight simulators and jet engines.
  • Universities embrace the role of the industry in shaping aviation courses, inviting guest lecturers to impart their experience and mentor students.
  • Aviation graduates from the top 10 U.K. universities have a very high employability rate, with all schools reporting rates of over 90%, reflecting the need for well-trained aviation professionals in the industry.

A look at the wider aviation landscape reveals several important developments that are likely to impact on the industry’s future: [84]

  • There is a growing trend towards ‘green aviation’; the development of aircraft that don’t emit harmful carbon-based emissions. Such planes are lightweight or ultra-light and use sustainable power systems.
  • Another key emerging trend is the development of city airbuses or ‘flying taxis’ for transport in urban areas. These unmanned planes will be able to propel themselves from place to place without manual assistance. One key developer, electric aircraft designer and manufacturer Eviation, is working on a pilotless commuter aircraft that travel short distances.
  • NASA is pioneering research into significantly reducing flight times by designing X-planes that can travel at super speeds without a sonic boom effect.
  • Several parties are introducing futuristic airplane designs that differ from their current jumbo jet counterparts in both the materials used and their overall shape.

The above developments will help to overcome various challenges faced by the aviation industry. For instance, pilotless planes address the worldwide shortage of pilots; while electric planes can help reduce harmful emissions.

Are you one of the aviation greats of tomorrow? Speak to us about applying for a course at one of the above universities and we’ll do our best to provide some helpful advice. ACS also provides aviation and flying scholarships for many of the best aviation universities in the UK and all around the world. Find out more on our Aviation Scholarships and Student Grants page.

A quick word to the universities featured

Are you a representative of one of the universities featured in the article above? If you’d like to provide us with more up-to-date information or get in touch for any other reason, feel free to reach out on our contact page, or call us on +44 (0)20 8339 8588.



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