Aerospace Engineering

More than a century since Bristol produced its first aircraft, the South West is now one of the largest centres for aerospace in Europe.

The department has close links with major industrial companies, including AgustaWestland, Airbus and Rolls-Royce. Our curriculum is linked tightly to our research and our academics are world leaders in aerodynamics, composites, control, vibrations and systems.

By specialising in aerospace from the very start you will study a wide range of technical subjects, all contributing to the design of future aircraft and spacecraft.

Why study Aerospace Engineering at Bristol?

Our degrees combine theory with practical experience and are tailored to give you the skills needed to design an aircraft or spacecraft. You will study a range of subjects - aerodynamics, structures, materials, systems, design, control - and gain experience of making them work together through projects.

You will:

  • measure flows and forces on aerofoils;
  • write software for a navigation system;
  • design an undercarriage;
  • design, build and test a complete wing.

In your research project you will tackle a specific problem in much greater detail, such as automated landing of an Unmanned Air Vehicle (UAV) or design of a potential space mission. If you choose the MEng, as part of a group design project you will work on the concept for a new commercial aircraft, presenting your design to Airbus for assessment.

You can apply initially to either our BEng or MEng course. 

Engineering students at Bristol benefit also from a dedicated Industrial Liaison Office, which develops engineering-specific industrial links for students.

What kind of student would this course suit?

If you are fascinated by the details of how things work and the innovation required to make them better you will enjoy our aerospace degrees.

Our degree is especially suited to students who are strongly motivated to learn about aerospace with an interest in aviation, space or a related area. The course is well suited also if you desire a broad and challenging engineering course.

You will need strong skills in mathematics and physics, confidence in using maths as a tool to model the physical world, and you will enjoy the challenge of developing those skills.

Every day my inbox is flooded with opportunities – internships, research projects, extra-curricular activities – all of which are the University getting students involved. The University is constantly updating its facilities, which reinforces its friendly and inclusive environment.

Alexandra, Second year, LLB Law

How is this course taught and assessed?

Teaching is primarily lecture-based throughout the course, complemented by laboratory exercises to aid understanding. Independent study is also expected, combining lecture notes with textbooks and other materials.

Assessment in the first two years is approximately 75 per cent examinations and 25 per cent coursework. Examples of coursework include:

  • analysing your findings on wind tunnel experiments;
  • reporting on your design of a wing;
  • using modelling software to predict stresses in a fuselage;
  • developing control laws for a rotorcraft.

Later years involve a greater coursework element, including group and individual project work.

What are my career prospects?

Our graduate employment record is excellent, and links to industry and Royal Aeronautical Society accreditation ensure that our graduates are highly regarded in the commercial sector.

Our Industrial Liaison Office organises company engagement from year one, which continues through all years of the course, making the most of the many aerospace companies nearby.

Many graduates enter careers in other high-technology sectors, such as Formula 1, wind and marine power generation and defence contracting, while others go into further research.

Read more about what students from Aerospace Engineering go on to do after graduation.

Did you know?

  • Students from more than 180 countries study with us, and we share more than 150 exchange links with institutions worldwide.
  • Our Students' Union has over 200 student-run societies, and the Richmond Building, home to the Students' Union, is undergoing a £30-million renovation.
  • 11 Bristol graduates and members of staff have been awarded Nobel prizes.

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