Frequently asked questions for the Department of Aerospace Engineering

We asked the Department of Aerospace Engineering some questions about what it's like to study with them. Here's what they said.

We are adapting our teaching methods and spaces in accordance with the latest COVID guidelines and therefore the information below may be subject to change.

What makes this department at the University of Bristol unique?

If you enjoy problem solving, excel in maths and physics and have a strong interest in areas such as aircraft, spacecraft, Formula 1 or wind power, then aerospace engineering may be for you. Our degrees focus on the technical material that interests you from the start, ensuring theoretical ideas are set clearly in a practical aerospace context.

The vibrant nature of the department is reflected in our connections with industrial partners such as Airbus UK, BAE Systems, Rolls-Royce, Leonardo, GE Aviation and GKN Aerospace, which are all located on our doorstep. Further manufacturers and engineering consultancies such as DNV GL (Garrad Hassan), GE and Atkins also have centres near the University.

We have a leading role within the UK National Composites Centre, and we are partners in the Centre for Fluid Mechanics Simulation (CFMS).

How does the research at the school benefit the experience of the students at the school?

Teaching in a research environment is the philosophy at the heart of our undergraduate courses, spanning all our teaching units and ensuring you benefit from knowledge of the latest developments and discoveries. Every part of our courses is tailored to provide you with the skills needed to design an aircraft or spacecraft.

For MEng students, the fourth-year group design project is currently run in close collaboration with Airbus and Leonardo.

Senior design staff will help to lead teaching related to the design of fixed-wing aircraft, space systems or helicopters. Groups of students work competitively to the same design specification, considering the full spectrum of factors contributing to the design. These projects provide a major opportunity for the application of systems engineering principles.

The final piece of coursework in the fourth year is an individual research project. This follows on from the individual exploratory project in the third year and is an opportunity for you to become involved in our department’s research activities by undertaking your own original piece of research.

This work often sits alongside current staff links to industrial partners, helping to build beneficial contacts for our students and creating an active, vibrant research community.

What does the school do to welcome students when they first start at Bristol?

The department runs a range of welcome activities and visits in welcome week. There is also AeroSoc, the departmental student society, which hosts events including the AeroSoc ball.

What is the first year timetable like for this course?

Generally, there are about 25-30 timetable hours in the first year.

Where can I find out more about the detailed structure and content of the degree programmes?

You can find these details on the University of Bristol online prospectus.

What support does the school offer to new students?

Support comes from the faculty wellbeing team, and from hall residential support teams.

Further pastoral care and academic advice is provided by academic tutors allocated on your arrival.

How will the course set me up for my future career?

Aerospace engineering teaches quantitative analytical skills valuable across a wide range of areas.

Are there any employers or other initiatives that the school works with for industry placements?

We offer both assessed and non-assessed options for the year in industry.

What do graduates go on to do after studying this course at Bristol?

There is significant employment in engineering itself, both within and outside aerospace, but our students go on to find work in a diverse range of areas including (in addition to aerospace) general engineering (oil/gas, automotive, marine), finance and insurance, energy and management.

What opportunities are there to study abroad as part of this course?

We offer courses for both study abroad in a modern language and study abroad in English.

What are the facilities like on campus that students will use to study this course?

We have a variety of research and teaching facilities, ranging from flight simulators, miniature gas turbines and structural testing equipment through to our subsonic and supersonic wind tunnels and tethered miniature helicopters.

You will have the opportunity to operate state-of-the-art optical laser-based measurement equipment for wind tunnels or build wind tunnel test models in the designated student workshop.

In your final year, use of facilities will depend on your choice of research project, but may include the composites lab, wind tunnels, dynamics lab or robotics lab.

Whatever your interest, we offer world-class facilities to enhance your learning experience.

How many hours (on average) are required outside of lectures for additional work and study?

One credit point represents approximately 10 hours of student input, and one year is 120 credits.

How do assessments work for the department?

Assessments may be written coursework, exams, online assessments or vivas.

What would you say are the main differences between studying at school and study at university?

The key point at university is to know if you've mastered material. If you haven't, it's important to be active in pursuing this understanding further through dialogue with your lecturers, classmates or further individual study.

There are many resources to help you with this, but it is important to be able to understand when you need to access them to help your learning.

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