MSc Aerospace Engineering / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Aerospace Group Design Project

Course unit fact file
Unit code AERO61520
Credit rating 30
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Full year
Available as a free choice unit? No


This course unit detail provides the framework for delivery in 20/21 and may be subject to change due to any additional Covid-19 impact.  Please see Blackboard / course unit related emails for any further updates.

Engineering design is about the application of knowledge, skills and understanding to the solution of open ended problems. These problems have the attribute that they may be precisely defined yet there may be many different valid solutions available. Within education provides a context for integration and demonstration of learning across a broad range of topics. Design is about doing, not just knowing, and understanding of how systems and products are designed is an essential attribute of a professional engineer.


This unit aims to enable masters level students develop and demonstrate a range of professional engineering skills through participation in a multidisciplinary group design exercise.


The detailed design requirement varies each year; however the general topic area is currently based around development of an autonomous fixed wing Unmanned Air Vehicle (UAV) system.

Students will develop different specialist skills and knowledge depending on the specialist role(s) they take on in their group. The available roles are: Chief engineer, Project Manager, Structures, Structures and materials, Aerodynamics, Flight dynamics/stability and control, Propulsion, Avionics and systems, Modelling and simulation, Test pilot. All roles have design process as a core part of their remit and this provides a framework to guide the revision or acquisition of technical knowledge in the chosen specialist role. The group work nature of the unit means that whilst individuals have assigned roles it is expected that the broad learning outcomes related to design are covered by all students. However it is also expected that students develop understanding in specialist areas aside from their own through the necessary day to day interaction with other team members.

 At the end of the unit, it is expected that students will be able to

  1. Demonstrate the ability to contribute effectively in a multidisciplinary team environment
  2. Demonstrate an advanced level of learning within a specific area of design
  3. Understand how value is added through the process of design and how this value can be communicated to customers through demonstration
  4. Understand the importance of validation within the design process and the value of practical testing
  5. Reflect on personal performance and demonstrate the ability to learn effectively from experience

The second semester of this unit involves students designing an aircraft for a selected application. An initial challenge is to select an application, and then derive appropriate design requirements that meet the application, and thus provide a framework for the design challenge.
This unit is integrative by nature, requiring students to draw technical knowledge from a number of disciplines. The unit has a strong practical element, so emphasis is placed on the application of theoretical knowledge to solving a real-world problem - design, manufacture and test-flight of an aircraft.
In parallel, the unit aims to allow students to apply and develop methods of team working and project management, including time, risk and budget management, in the context of a real engineering project.

The unit emulates engineering with an industrial setting. This includes being allocated teams to work in, and the management of key  resources: an allocated budget, manufacturing time, access to industrial and academic experts, and available laboratory time for fabrication. The assessments are designed to complement those expected within engineering industries - live test demonstration, a trade-show presentation, and a technical report, are all used within this semester.

While semester 1 focuses largely on skills development, semester 2 introduces the practice of design requirements analysis and also gives each group the opportunity to select an application for their aircraft. The scope of applications is outlined as being those which 'bring a positive benefit to society' and are therefore aligned to the University goal of Social Responsibility.

The unit helps to prepare students to solve a range of practical engineering problems that they are likely to face in industry. In particular, problems that require practical prototyping and design iteration are well captured by the structure of this unit. In addition, the incorporation of formal design requirements analysis will be a skill that students can take onto tackling a range of complex design challenges in a logical fashion.


Assessment methods

Method Weight
Report 100%

Feedback methods

Online quiz - Marks and model answers to questions are released within 1 week

Oral presentation - Oral feedback immediately after presentation, and written comprehensive feedback to groups is provided within 2 weeks

Poster - Written feedback to groups is provided within 2 weeks

Practical demonstration - Oral feedback immediately after demo, and written comprehensive feedback to groups is provided within 2 weeks

Written report - Individual written feedback within 2 weeks of submission


Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
eAssessment 6
Lectures 14
Practical classes & workshops 50
Project supervision 50
Independent study hours
Independent study 180

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Ben Parslew Unit coordinator
Mostafa Ahmed Nabawy Unit coordinator

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