About this course
Our MSc Unmanned Aircraft Systems Design course provides graduate engineers with the skills and knowledge needed to design these sophisticated systems. You’ll focus on the design of the vehicle, including aerospace control systems and avionics. The course is supported by major UK companies such as Thales, BAE Systems, Rolls-Royce, QinetiQ and Cobham.
This master’s degree is ideal if you're an engineering, science or maths graduate and are looking to specialise in unmanned systems or to enter this fast-paced industry. If you don’t have a first degree in one of these subjects, we’ll take other experience into account.
You’ll have the opportunity to design and build a sophisticated unmanned system, take part in individual and group work, and undertake a critical research project.
Past students have undertaken research projects including:
- the development of an unmanned aerial vehicle hybrid power system
- a vehicle-launched vertical take-off and landing unmanned aerial vehicle for search and rescue operations
- investigations into the aerodynamic performance of bio-inspired morphing UAV wings
You’ll benefit from world-class facilities, such as a sophisticated autopilot system, dedicated flying site, wind tunnels and rapid prototyping laboratories, to put your design through mission validation.
You’ll also have the opportunity to study for a private pilot’s licence. Recent graduates have gone on to work at organisations such as the Royal Navy and the ULTRA large unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) project, as well as going into postgraduate research.
Your course leader is Dr Zhiwei Hu, Reginald Platt Lecturer in Civil Aviation within Engineering and Physical Sciences. His research interests include turbulence simulations, computational fluid dynamics and high-speed train aerodynamics. Visit Dr Hu's staff profile to read more about his work.
Download the programme specification
The programme specification sets out the learning outcomes of this course and details how the course is taught and assessed.
You’ll need a 2:1 degree in mechanical or aerospace engineering, maths, physical sciences or a related subject.
Find the equivalent international qualifications for your country.
English language requirements
If English isn't your first language, you'll need to complete an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) to demonstrate your competence in English. You'll need an overall score of 6.5 and the following scores for reading, writing, listening and speaking:
IELTS score requirements
We accept other English language tests, find out which English language tests we accept.
Recognition of professional experience
If you don't have the exact entry requirements, but you have significant work experience in this sector we’ll assess your relevant professional experience, your subject knowledge and your aptitude for learning.
Your application will be considered on individual merit and you may be asked to attend an interview.
Got a question?
If you're not sure that you have the right experience or qualifications to get onto this course please contact our enquiries team; we're very happy to help.Email: email@example.com
Tel: +44(0)23 8059 5000
This is a full-time master's degree course. Your studies will last for a full 12 months.
For the first 8 months you’ll focus on the taught part of the course. Lectures will be split into 2 12-week semesters, with exams at the end of each semester.
You'll spend the last 4 months of your course working full-time on your research project. You’ll be able to do some preparation for this in Semester 2.
Want more detail? See all the modules in the course.
For entry in Academic Year 2020-21
You must study the following modules:
You must also choose from the following modules:
Learning and assessment
You’ll learn by a variety of teaching and learning methods. These include:
- practical work
- laboratory work
- individual and group projects
Your learning will benefit from industry-standard facilities, including unmanned aerial vehicle test pilot base and flying site, wind tunnels, and rapid prototyping lab.
We'll assess you through:
- unseen written exams
- problem-solving exercises
- laboratory reports
- design exercises
- individual and group projects
You'll carry out a research project and complete a dissertation, focusing on any of the areas covered by the course. The project is an opportunity for you to show the skills and knowledge you've acquired over the first 2 semesters.
We'll assign you a personal academic tutor, and you'll have access to a senior tutor.
With this qualification you'll be qualified to work as a drone pilot or drone engineer.
You must hold a BEng/BSc undergraduate first degree accredited for Chartered Engineer (CEng) registration to comply with full CEng registration requirements.
Careers services at Southampton
We're a top 20 UK university for employability (QS Graduate Employability Rankings 2019). Our Careers and Employability Service will support you throughout your time as a student and for up to 5 years after graduation. This support includes:
- work experience schemes
- CV/resume and interview skills workshops
- networking events
- careers fairs attended by top employers
- a wealth of volunteering opportunities
- study abroad and summer school opportunities
We have a vibrant entrepreneurship culture. You'll be able to take advantage of:
Fees, costs and funding
Fees for a year's study:
- UK/EU students pay £9,250.
- International students pay £23,136.
What your fees pay for
Your tuition fee covers the full cost of tuition and all examinations.
10% alumni discount
If you’re a graduate of the University of Southampton you get a 10% discount on your postgraduate tuition fees.
Postgraduate Master’s Loans (UK and EU nationals only)
This can help with course fees and living costs while you study a postgraduate master's course. Find out if you're eligible.
Funding your postgraduate studies
A variety of additional scholarships, grants and bursaries may be available to help you fund your master’s study, both from the University and from other organisations.
How to apply
You can apply directly through our online form by using the apply button on this page.
Applications must be received no later than 4 weeks before the start of the course. You must supply all supporting documentation at least two weeks before starting your course.
We recommend you apply at least 6 weeks before the start of the course to ensure you're able to meet our requirements and apply for a visa in time.
We cannot guarantee students who do not meet these deadlines will be able to begin their course.
When you apply you’ll need to submit a personal statement explaining why you want to take the course.
You’ll need to include information about:
- your knowledge of the subject area
- why you want to study a postgraduate qualification in this course
- how you intend to use your qualification
You'll also need to send 2 academic references.
Please include the required paperwork showing your first degree and your IELTS English language test score (if you are a non-native English speaker) with your application. Without these, your application may be delayed.
Learn more about how to apply with our postgraduate application guide.
What happens after you apply
You'll be able to track your application through our online Applicant Record System.
We will assess your application on the strength of your:
- academic achievements
- relevant professional experience
- personal statement
- academic references
We'll get back to you within 6 weeks with a decision about your application.
Equality and diversity
We treat and select everyone in line with our Equality and Diversity Statement.
Got a question?
Please contact us if you're not sure you have the right experience or qualifications to get onto this course.
Tel: +44(0)23 8059 5000