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Air Transport Planning and Management (MSc)

Course Description

Modules on this course are taught in blocks of five days at a time to enable international participants to travel efficiently to London several times a year. Students take six taught modules in total (over one year on the full-time course, or two to three years on the block release part-time course) and complete a research dissertation. Email contact and tutorial support is provided between the module blocks along with guest lectures and workshop sessions for full-time students.

The block attendance mode for this course is not compatible with visa restrictions for international students. Therefore, this mode of attendance is not available for international students requiring a visa. The block mode of attendance is still available to UK and EU students. International students can still apply for our full-time course.

This course has been developed to meet the needs of graduates worldwide seeking to gain greater knowledge and experience of the air transport industry, and looking to progress into senior roles in management, operations and commercial planning of airlines, airports, government departments and aviation-related businesses such as aircraft manufacturing, finance and consultancy. It is designed to provide a strong theoretical and analytical basis, coupled with the application of many practical techniques and strategies.

The course builds on the successful series of aviation short courses that have attracted participants from around the globe to the University each year. The Department has a long-established interest in air transport research, consultancy and teaching, having been set up by the renowned aviation academic Professor Rigas Doganis some 40 years ago. The University's association with aviation goes back much further, however, as it was here in the 19th century that Sir George Cayley first demonstrated the principles of flight.

Modules on this course can also be taken as short courses which are not formally assessed. Students who have followed the relevant short course(s) within the last five years may be able to register at a reduced fee to complete the module on an 'assessment only' basis as part of the Master's degree. For more information on these short courses, visit our air transport short courses.

*Students starting the full-time course in January will complete the course over 15 months including a three month vacation period from July-September.

Core modules

•Air Transport Economics
In this module you will examine the structure of the airline industry and the international regulatory regime within which it operates. You will analyse airline costs and revenues, relating them to financial performance, and examine airport economics along with key concepts in airport operations and planning.

•Air Transport Forecasting and Market Research
Through this module you will consider methods for analysing air traffic, forecasting the demand for air services and modelling the pattern of future airline operations. Market research techniques are explained, including questionnaire design and interpretation of survey data. You will discuss key sources of secondary data, and assess elasticities of demand. You will also examine the management of capacity in the context of both airport and airline planning, and develop models of passenger choice and airport attractiveness.

•Air Transport Management and Operations
In this module you will develop techniques for optimising the airline and airport product. These are based upon strategic management thinking and an understanding of the nature of demand for air travel. This then leads to the detail of scheduling airline operations, choosing the right aircraft, designing appropriate product features and assessing quality of service. Air cargo has differing requirements to passenger traffic and forms a special analysis. An introduction to air traffic management and the use of airspace is included, as well as some insights to human resources management and industrial relations.

•Research Dissertation
This module gives you an opportunity to undertake in-depth research on an air transport topic of your choice, and present analysis, conclusions and recommendations in a written report. It allows you to develop an understanding of all stages of the research process.

Option modules

•Air Transport Policy and Planning
In this module you will consider the wider consequences of air services from economic, social and environmental viewpoints. You will explore topics of economic development, accessibility and connectivity, as well as environmental airport capacity and carbon management. You will examine policy issues to encourage sustainable development, land use planning, and the influence of air cargo operations. You will also evaluate surface access policies and the role that they can play in reducing airport environmental impacts.

•Airline Marketing and Business Models
In this module you will examine airline marketing strategies including advertising media and messages, the distribution of the airline product, customer loyalty schemes and brand management. You will develop methods for route development analysis, and discuss the role of airline alliances to network carriers. You will study specialised business models in detail including low-cost airlines, regional carriers, long-haul operators and the charter/inclusive-tour sector of the industry.

•Airport Finance and Strategy
In this module you will consider how airport management has changed for many operators with adoption of commercialisation, privatisation and internationalisation strategies. Taking these trends into account, you will explore airport financial performance and the factors affecting this. You will also investigate aeronautical charges and the role of competition and regulation, and examine non-aeronautical revenues and strategies to optimise these. This leads to a discussion of different management approaches related to both aeronautical and non-aeronautical revenue streams and different customers, such as low cost carriers.

As an alternative to one of the above option modules, you have a free choice of one appropriate module from other subject areas in the University (eg transport, logistics, tourism, business). This must be agreed with the Course Leader.

Associated careers

If you are a full-time student without a prior background in the air transport industry you should be well placed on completion of the course to take up a junior position in a planning, management and operational role with airlines and airports. You will also be well equipped for employment as an analyst with consultancies, government bodies and aircraft manufacturers.

If you have a prior industry background you should be able to return to your position with new skills and understanding, plus a greater maturity of approach. You will be well placed to move into senior managerial, policy or research functions. The competitive nature of the industry will also provide many new opportunities for suitably qualified personnel.

A strong performance on the MSc provides the opportunity to study further by registering for a research degree in the Department of Planning and Transport. Graduates will also be equipped with the knowledge, understanding and skills needed to participate in the activities of professional bodies such as the Air Transport Research Society, the German Aviation Research Society and AirNeth.


At Westminster, we have always believed that your University experience should be designed to enhance your professional life. Today’s organisations need graduates with both good degrees and employability skills, and we are committed to enhancing your graduate employability by ensuring that career development skills are embedded in all courses.

Opportunities for part-time work, placements and work-related learning activities are widely available, and can provide you with extra cash and help you to demonstrate that you have the skills employers are looking for. In London there is a plentiful supply of part-time work – most students at the University of Westminster work part time (or full time during vacations) to help support their studies.

We continue to widen and strengthen our links with employers, involving them in curriculum design and encouraging their participation in other aspects of career education and guidance. Staff take into account the latest data on labour market trends and employers’ requirements to continually improve the service delivered to students.

Visit the Air Transport Planning and Management (MSc) page on the University of Westminster website for more details!

(Student Profile)

Ruby Leung Wai Hang

“Westminster provides international students with comprehensive assistance and an enjoyable learning environment. The international students welcome programme includes orientation sections and a coach trip, which was a good opportunity to explore the city and socialise with students from other countries.

The Department of Transport and Logistics has been conducting air transport research for 40 years, and was set up by Professor Rigas Doganis, the non-executive director of easyJet. The university has invited many talented and experienced professionals from the air transport industry, including Professor Doganis, to deliver lectures during the course. It has been very beneficial to all of us especially when they shared their distinctive stories and precise overviews of the industry.

We have been to different airports in the UK throughout the year. Through a number of demonstrations and presentations given by staff working in airports, I learnt how different airports put theory into practice. Our course leader Dr Nigel Dennis and the lecturers are always ready to help. Not only do they provide academic guidance, but they also help students to cope in this new environment.

Westminster has definitely prepared me for my career. In interviews employers have been impressed by my professional knowledge and critical thinking skills.”

(Student Profile)

Yves De Wandeler

"The part-time course which can be taken over two or three years is flexible for accommodating my work commitments. I also appreciate the aspect of meeting industry professionals from a wide range of stakeholders, creating an ideal opportunity to network and share experience.’’

(Student Profile)

Kellie Heath

“The block delivery of modules makes it easy for part-time students from outside London to take the course and studying at Westminster has given me new perspectives on issues I encounter in my daily working environment.”


Entry Requirements

You should normally have a good undergraduate Honours degree or its equivalent (First or Second Class) or, alternatively, evidence of further education and appropriate professional experience. If English is not your first language you will need a minimum IELTS score of 6.5. Applicants without these formal academic qualifications but with professional qualifications or substantial (normally at least three years) relevant work experience in the air transport industry may be considered for the course. Their enrolment will be at the discretion of the Course Leader.

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