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Space Engineering Masters/MSc

Start date
1 year full-time
Course Type
Postgraduate, Taught
We charge an annual tuition fee. Fees for 2024/25:
£11,340 (UK students)
£29,340 (International students)
Further fee information is available.
Video transcript

Advances in Spacecraft Engineering are creating the opportunity for us to explore further than ever before. Our Space Engineering Masters course provides the skills and knowledge you need to significantly enhance your career prospects in this growing sector, by developing your abilities in spacecraft engineering.

Scholarships for 2024 entry

The University of Birmingham is proud to offer a range of scholarships for our postgraduate programmes. With a scholarship pot worth over £2 million, we are committed to alleviating financial barriers to support you in taking your next steps.

Each scholarship has its own specific deadlines and eligibility criteria. Please familiarise yourself with the information on individual scholarship webpages prior to submitting an application.

Explore our scholarships

This new programme provides a postgraduate qualification in spacecraft engineering, covering the full life cycle of space missions. Through the use of lectures, practical laboratories, group activities and individual projects students will develop a broad range of skills and knowledge to support industrial, defence, and scientific applications within this growing sector.

The programme aims

To equip you with advanced scientific knowledge, concepts and skills necessary for a research or technology development career in spacecraft engineering, with particular focus on the space environment and its hazards and mitigation, and materials and manufacturing for space applications.

To provide you with the opportunity to carry out individual research project work in spacecraft technology and engineering, to acquire the generic research skills necessary to engage in future research or study and to enable you to report research outcomes to an audience.

To produce graduates with broad knowledge and research skills of spacecraft technology and engineering, hence prepare students for further academic study and/or industrial employment.

Why study Space Engineering Masters at Birmingham?

  • The MSc programme is rooted in high-quality teaching and learning through enquiry-based and independent study, producing high calibre graduates equipped with the skills to excel in a technical role in the space sector.
  • The flexibility this programme offers will allow you to specialise in an area of spacecraft engineering most suited to your skills and career aspirations.
  • You will benefit from our established links with industry, which can be utilised during the dissertation projects and form a solid networking base for prospective careers.


Core Modules

  • Advanced Space Missions Analysis and Design (20 credits)
    This module introduces students to the important elements of space mission analysis and design. The key mission objectives are the foundation on which all requirements are derived. Students will be introduced to the industry-standard analysis tools for specific mission design aspects, e.g. mechanical, thermal, radiation, electrical, trajectory, and will learn to rigorously assess the suitability of designs to meet those requirements.
    Students will also consider the wider context of space engineering in society, including ethical, accessibility, and sustainability issues.
  • Communications, Ethics & Teamwork for Space Missions (10 credits)
    Excellent technical communication and team working skills are some of the most valuable skills needed as a Space Engineer. Almost no other technical field requires such demanding technical concepts and analysis to be communicated: complex technical safety justifications, collaboration between global organisations and cutting-edge technical sub-systems that all have to integrate together occur in almost every space mission.
    This module will develop these oral and written communication skills, as well as understanding the ethical implications of design and operational decisions.
    The lectures and tutorials will guide students through planning research projects, writing industrial technical documents, scientific papers and designing effective illustrations and tables. They will learn techniques for effective oral presentations and put these skills into practice in teams. This includes developing a team ethos, strategic, time and project planning and management capabilities and present their results to assessors and peers.
  • Individual Research Project (60 credits)
    Research projects can be carried out in a broad range of topics related to Space Engineering. The School in which the project is based will provide the research supervisor and will arrange for all necessary facilities and resources.
    The project involves full-time research for one third of the academic year from May until September. Interim assessment will be conducted towards the end of June in the form of a report and an interview.
    The project report will be internally assessed by academic staff member. Each student will be required to give a project presentation which will be marked and moderated by different members of staff. 
  • Materials and Manufacturing for Space Applications (10 credits)
    This module will provide an introduction to the industry standards that must be met for materials, structures, and processes to be used in space. Students will learn to evaluate materials and manufacturing processes for use in extreme thermal, radiation, and microgravity environments. They will develop an understanding of the role space-based research can play in advanced materials development.
  • Space Environment (20 credits)
    At the end of this module the student should understand the key physical parameters of the near-earth space environment and how these affect spacecraft design and operation. Topics will include: properties of the near-Earth space environment and interplanetary medium (i.e. solar wind, geomagnetic field, magnetosphere, ionosphere, thermosphere); basic plasma plasma physics relevant to radio propagation; basic solar-terrestrial physics relevant to spacecraft charging and drag.

Optional Modules

Choose three 20-credit modules. Examples of optional modules include:

  • CubeSat Design (20 credits)
    The module requires students to understand how CubeSat systems are designed and operated. They will become familiar with the satellite subsystems, both hardware and software, and develop an understanding of the way in which the systems are integrated. They will perform a series of laboratory exercises with a 1U EM CubeSat and ground station, which will constitute the primary formative and summative assessments.
  • Human Spaceflight critique (20 credits)
    This module covers the exciting and demanding challenges of human spaceflight. Crewed missions provide enormous and varied challenges ranging from life support systems and space physiology through to spacecraft operations and training. Emerging markets such as space tourism represent a fundamental shift in potential uses of space.
    No topic in spaceflight captures the public imagination quite like human exploration.
    This module allows students to identify a specific area of their interest in crewed spacecraft and develop an expert knowledge on this through independent literature research and learning. Initial lecture and workshops provide specific skills in literature searching, technical and critical writing and then students receive the support of an academic mentor to develop their study, but the expectation is that the student will become a topic expert.
    This develops skills of critical deep technical evaluation on a specific topic that are highly valued both by industrial employers in the space sector, and are needed for those seeking to pursue careers in academic or space policy fields.
  • Orbital Mechanics and Spacecraft Constellations (20 credits)
    This module provides you with an introduction to orbital mechanics and spacecraft constellations. It covers the fundamental physics of 2D and 3D orbital mechanics and transfers between orbits. You will develop an understanding of the trade-offs between different constellation configurations and coverage optimisation methods.
  • Satellite Communications (20 credits)
    This module introduces students to the important elements of satellite communications. It will introduce the current state of satellite communication systems, describe the propagation environment involved in such systems and explain methods of characterisation. It will explain typical modulation, coding and multiplexing methods, describe the system and network aspects of typical systems and describe the ground-based system interfaces to customers. In addition to traditional radio-frequency communications it will discuss the current status of development, and requirements of, optically-based satellite communications systems.
  • Spacecraft Mechanical Design (20 credits)
    Students will develop an understanding of the key areas of spacecraft mechanical design, using industry-standard design tools. They will also learn to validate mechanical designs e.g. using vibration, thermal, and radiation analysis tools. Students will verify and validate requirements of these types as well.
  • Space Propulsion and Power Systems (20 credits)
    In this module students will be introduced to the means by which power is generated and distributed, and propulsion is used for manoeuvre control, in space applications.
    Examples include chemical and ion engines, nuclear sources, and solar cells and sails. Power distribution mechanisms and attitude and orientation control will be scrutinised.
    Students will choose a set of mission objectives and design appropriate power and propulsion systems to meet those objectives in a mini-project.

Please note: The modules listed on the website for this programme are regularly reviewed to ensure they are up-to-date and informed by the latest research and teaching methods.


Annual tuition fee for 2024/25

  • UK students: £11,340
  • International students £29,340

Are you an international applicant?

All international applicants to this course will be required to pay a non-refundable deposit of £2,000 on receipt of an offer, to secure their place.

Find out more about the deposit >>.

Postgraduate Loans (PGL) for Masters students

UK and EU students (with settled or pre-settled status) looking to pursue a Masters programme in the UK can apply for a non-means-tested loan from the British government via the Student Loans Company (SLC).

The loan will be paid directly to you, into a UK bank account. It is intended to provide a contribution towards the costs of Masters study and whether the loan is used towards fees, maintenance or other costs is at your own discretion.

Learn more about applying for PGL 



We offer a range of postgraduate scholarships for taught programmes and research opportunities to ensure the very best talent is nurtured and supported at postgraduate level.

University scholarships

Birmingham Masters Scholarship

Our Birmingham Masters Scholarship offers £2,000 via a tuition fee discount, to support the brightest and best applicants from UK or Ireland undertaking Masters study at Birmingham during 2024-2025.

Global Masters Scholarship

This £2,000 Gloabl Masters Scholarship award is available to all international students from a selection of countries who are seeking to study a taught Masters degree at Birmingham in the 2024-25 academic year.


How To Apply

International applicants requiring visas

Applications to this programme from students who are international for fees will close 30 June 2024. We will close applications as soon as the programme is full, early applications are encouraged.

UK and non-Tier 4 applicants

Applications will close 31 August 2024. We will close applications as soon as the programme is full, early applications are encouraged.


International students applying for this programme will need an Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) certificate from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office before the University can issue you with a Certificate of Acceptance of Studies (CAS). We recommend that you apply for your ATAS certificate as soon as you receive an offer from us.

How to apply

To apply for a postgraduate taught programme, you will need to submit your application and supporting documents online. We have put together some helpful information on the taught programme application process and supporting documents on our how to apply page. Please read this information carefully before completing your application.

Apply now

Our Standard Requirements

A 2.1 Honours degree in a physical science or engineering subject.

Applicants with a 2.2 Honours degree in the above disciplines along with appropriate industrial experience will considered on a case-by-case basis.

Learn more about Entry requirements.

International Requirements

International Students

English language

For students whose first language is not English, one of the following English language qualifications is required:

  • IELTS 6.5 with no less than 6.0 in any band
  • TOEFL: 88 overall with no less than 21 in Reading, 20 in Listening, 22 in Speaking and 21 in Writing
  • Pearson Test of English (PTE) including online: PTE Academic 67 with no less than 64 in all four skills
  • Cambridge English (exams taken from 2015): Advanced – minimum overall score of 176, with no less than 169 in any component

International students applying for this programme will need an Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) certificate from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office before the University can issue you with a Certificate of Acceptance of Studies (CAS). We recommend that you apply for your ATAS certificate as soon as you receive an offer from us.

The semester one modules are taken by all the students to develop a firm base of knowledge specific to becoming an engineer in the space sector. Semester two sees the students moving into a pathway of their choice, where the students can decide, through optional modules, what aspects of this sector they want to specialise in. The third semester is dedicated to an individual research project that will be taken alongside an academic working in this sector.

The programme is currently delivered through a combination of lectures, seminars, tutorials, project-based and laboratory-based teaching and learning methods. In addition to technical modules, the course also provides training for transferable skills.

You can expect to be exposed throughout to up-to-date knowledge of current and future trends in this field whilst developing the skills of critical evaluation and analysis that you will need as an engineer of tomorrow. We look forward to welcoming you.

Assessment Methods

The programme uses a diverse range of assessment methods to develop the skills required to succeed as an engineer of tomorrow in Spacecraft Engineering. This includes group and individual projects, critical reviews of subject material, laboratory reports, technical reports and presentations as well as traditional examinations.

Your personal tutor

As soon as you join us, you’ll be assigned a personal tutor who will remain with you throughout your studies to help you in three important areas: supporting your academic progress, developing transferable skills and dealing with any welfare issues.

This course meets the industrial demand for the training and education of both existing and future engineers in the advanced concepts of Spacecraft engineering.

It aims to produce graduates of the highest calibre who will be much in demand due to their skills, knowledge and ability to lead in teams involved designing, manufacturing, deploying and controlling equipment in space.

University Careers Network

Preparation for your career should be one of the first things you think about as you start university. Whether you have a clear idea of where your future aspirations lie or want to consider the broad range of opportunities available once you have a Birmingham degree, our Careers Network can help you achieve your goal.

Our unique careers guidance service is tailored to your academic subject area, offering a specialised team (in each of the five academic colleges) who can give you expert advice. Our team source exclusive work experience opportunities to help you stand out amongst the competition, with mentoring, global internships and placements available to you. Once you have a career in your sights, one-to-one support with CVs and job applications will help give you the edge.

If you make the most of the wide range of services you will be able to develop your career from the moment you arrive.