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  • Study Type

    Full time available

  • Subject Areas


  • Start Date

    October, March

  • Course Duration

    Full-time: 1 year

  • Course Type

    MSc, PgCert

  • Course Fees

    Home/EU - £10,000 Overseas - £20,000

  • Last Updated

    14 July 2017

Course content

Course Description

The Aircraft Design option of the MSc in Aerospace Vehicle Design (AVD) aims to provide a comprehensive overview of aircraft performance, structures and systems. A holistic teaching approach is taken to explore how the individual elements of an aircraft can be designed and integrated using up-to-date methods and techniques. You will learn to understand how to select specific systems such as fuel systems, and their effect on the aircraft as a whole.
This course is suitable for students with a background in aeronautical or mechanical engineering or those with relevant industrial experience.


Modern aircraft design focuses on the integration of new technologies and systems, with current and advanced configurations to lead us towards environmentally friendly and cost effective aviation in the civil arena and high performance and effective aviation in the military arena. This includes new structures, materials and manufacturing processes. New aircraft design is essential to address issues such as carbon footprint reduction, lower noise pollution and improved passenger comfort as well as contributing to national security.

Our work in this field covers all flying vehicles including civil and military aircraft, helicopters, Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Systems (UAVS), ultra-high capacity airlines and space vehicles. Current research being undertaken includes:

Advanced Configurations – such as blended wing and morphing wing aircraft design. This includes both fixed wing and rotorcraft vehicles.

Advanced Systems Integration – such as Distributed Propulsion using hydrogen or alternative fuels for power and high temperature superconducting materials technology.

Advanced Materials and Manufacturing Processes – exploring the benefits achieved through the application of advanced composite materials.

Advanced Design Methodologies – developing techniques to ensure that optimum designs are achieved.

Airworthiness Compliance – ensuring new designs demonstrate the same safety requirements as traditional aircraft.

Operational Aspects – cost, performance, reliability and maintainability are important features of aircraft design as well as advanced techniques such as Integrated Vehicle Health Management (IVHM). Vulnerability and susceptibility also have a major impact.

Biomimetics – taking lessons from nature for example insects and birds, and their application in aviation such as launch, recovery and flight.

English Language Requirements

If you are an international student you will need to provide evidence that you have achieved a satisfactory test result in an English qualification. The minimum standard expected from a number of accepted courses are as follows:

IELTS - 6.5
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.


The Aircraft Design option consists of a taught component, a group design project and an individual research project.

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.

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 coordination 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.


The taught modules (10%) are assessed by an examination and/or assignment. The Group Project (50%) is assessed by a written technical report and oral presentations. The Individual Research Project (40%) forms the remainder of the course.

Career opportunities

The MSc in Aircraft 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 Aircraft 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.

For further information

on this course, please visit our course webpage http://www.cranfield.ac.uk/Courses/Masters/AVD-Option-Aircraft-Design

Visit the Aerospace Vehicle Design - Aircraft Design option (MSc) page on the Cranfield University website for more details!






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