Top 10 UK aviation courses
The best aviation schools in the UK offer courses ranging from engineering – studying aerodynamics and materials – to pilot training. Offers range from a selection of short training courses to four-year aviation degrees. Air Charter Service (ACS) rounds up the best aviation courses from universities across the UK, offering qualifications that boost students’ employability at aviation companies across the world.
Brunel University London
Brunel’s aviation courses include an Aviation Engineering with Pilot Studies undergraduate degree, a three-year course which allows for professional pilot training after graduation. They also offer four-year “sandwich courses” involving a set period dedicated to work experience in the middle of the course. Brunel’s close proximity to Heathrow Airport gives its students exceptional opportunities to gain first-hand experience with private and commercial aircraft in one of the world’s largest airports.
Kingston University London
If you’re looking for a short course, Kingston provides options ranging from one to three years. Their full Aviation Operations with Commercial Pilot Training degree is designed for those planning to become commercial airline pilots. The course provides broad knowledge of the industry through technical theory and lectures and tutorials from professors in aviation, alongside guest speakers from the industry. The second year of the course is spent at the Bournemouth Commercial Flight Training (BCFT) centre in Dorset, which provides students with the core knowledge required to become a pilot. Entry requirements are more relaxed for this university than the alternatives listed here, requiring either 80 UCAS points or two A levels.
If a full degree is not what you’re looking for, you can take a one- or two-year foundation degree that covers the fundamentals of pilot training. In addition to the year dedicated to flight training, you can extend the degree to four years and take a year’s work placement, boosting your employability when you graduate.
Located at the university’s Stoke-on-Trent campus, Staffordshire's Aeronautical Technology degree gets you flying in a glider in the very first year of this three-year course. In addition to practical training at the start of the degree, students have the use of state-of-the-art laboratories with wind tunnels and flight simulators for aircraft from Boeing and Airbus, as well as helicopters. Sandwich courses are available, with staff employed solely to ensure you get the best possible work experience for your desired field.
University of Sheffield
Placed in the top 10 for UK engineering by the Times Good University Guide 2017, Sheffield’s Aerospace Engineering course prepares students well with up-to-date modules. Alongside dedicated flight hours, this three-year aviation degree covers subjects including aerodynamics, project management, structural materials and flight instrumentation. The wide range of modules allows students to specialise in areas of aviation they find most interesting and valuable to their career as a pilot or avionics engineer.
Alongside their private pilot instruction courses, during which students gain first-hand experience with the aid of a seasoned pilot, the University of Sheffield’s links with the Yorkshire Universities Air Squadron provides additional opportunities for flight training.
University of Hertfordshire
While the standard three-year Aerospace Technology with Pilot Studies course at the University of Hertfordshire focuses on aerospace systems engineering and the technical skills needed to understand and integrate modern avionics systems, an optional fourth year deals entirely with flight training. This aviation degree is ideal for aspiring pilots, offering specialised knowledge that makes graduates stand out from the competition, plus a full year of flight training available in a flight centre offering British and American qualifications.
University of Leeds
With 10 dedicated hours of flight training and many more available with additional lessons, Leeds’ three-year Aviation Technology with Pilot Studies degree provides graduates with Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) ground examination requirements, which they can supplement with other modules to gain their Private Pilot’s Licence. While retaining a focus on pilot training and preparation for commercial pilot ground exams, science and engineering modules are also available to ensure students leave with the best possible aviation industry knowledge.
University of Liverpool
Offering both postgraduate and undergraduate courses in aerospace engineering, the University of Liverpool’s aviation courses range from Bachelor of Engineering to PhD level. Their laboratory equipment allows system programming, designing aircraft, system management and navigation. While the university’s focus is primarily on the study of flight, simulated flying is also available on one of Liverpool’s three flight simulators, which replicate the cockpits and systems of the JetStream 41, Piper PA38 and a standardised fast-jet.
University of Salford
The University of Salford’s Manchester campus provides a combination of practical and theoretical aviation during their three-year Aircraft Engineering with Pilot Studies undergraduate course. While Salford’s focus is on tackling complex aircraft engineering problems through knowledge of science, maths, programming and design, there’s also ample opportunity to study for a pilot qualification. With 45 hours of dedicated flight time, three flight simulators and the opportunity to fly solo and gain a Private Pilot Licence by the end of the course, Salford’s degree offering is compelling. The university also encourages students to take a year-long industry work placement to ensure employability after graduation.
University of the West of England
The University of the West of England in Bristol runs a four year undergraduate Aerospace Engineering with Pilot Studies course designed to provide the skills students need to become technical specialists in the aerospace industry. The modules on offer teach the fundamentals of aerospace engineering such as materials, manufacturing processes and thermodynamics. Practical experience is gained through creating and testing aircraft prototypes in the university’s labs.
University of Nottingham
Between the University of Nottingham’s academic lecturers and specialists from global aerospace companies, Nottingham’s aviation courses in aerospace engineering are excellent undergraduate and postgraduate options for becoming an aviation engineer. Their modules focus on propulsion systems, aerospace manufacturing and electric aircraft, with laboratories advanced enough to allow testing at the PhD level of aerospace engineering. With such a high standard of facilities, Nottingham is an appealing choice for academic study.