If you have accepted an offer of a place on our programme, it is a good idea to prepare for your studies. Our MSc students come from a range of  backgrounds, and at the start of the programme there will be several non-examined modules aimed to fill in any gaps you may have but it would also be a good idea for you to look at some of the references below to make sure you are up to speed when you start your programme.

The reading list below will be far too large to be covered fully, so instead please identify the topic(s) that you are least familiar with and concentrate on them.

The background knowledge desirable to possess at the start of the programme consists of 5 main parts (in random order, all are equally important):

  1. Fluid Dynamics
  2. Programming and numerical analysis
  3. Mathematics
  4. Flight Mechanics
  5. Structural Mechanics

Fluid Dynamics

And here is the book:

Fundamentals of Aerodynamics by John D. Anderson, published by McGraw-Hill

Programming and numerical analysis

Learn how to compile and run programs.

A very good basic book is: Fortran90 for Engineers and Scientists by Larry R. Nyhoff and Sandford C. Leestma, published by Prentice Hall. There are two editions (same title), one fatter and more expensive than the other. If this proves difficult to buy, Fortran 90/95 for Scientists and Engineers by Stephen Chapman is also very good. This is published by McGraw Hill.

Google 'Fortran' for free online materials. There are plenty.

The desirable background on numerical analysis is at the level of Numerical Analysis, R. L. Burden and J. D. Faires, Brooks/Cole 2001.

See also: Numerical Mathematics and Computing (5th ed., 2004) by W. Cheny and D. Kincaid, published by Brooks/Cole

Fundamentals of Engineering Numerical Analysis by Parviz Moin, published by Cambridge University Press


  • Ordinary differential equations (ODE). Solution of homogenous and non-homogenous ODEs, particularly n-th order linear ODEs. Linear stability.
  • Partial differential equations. Basics.
  • Vector calculus: gradient, divergence, curl, Gauss theorem, Stokes theorem etc.
  • Functional analysis: Fourier transform, Laplace transform.
  • Linear algebra: Definition of matrix-vector multiplication, definition of orthogonal matrices and symmetric matrices, eigenvalues, eigenvectors, the characteristic equation, diagonalization, similarity, determinants, rank, solution of linear equations, change of coordinates/basis.

Freely downloadable books for linear algebra:



Basic algebra, calculus and ordinary and partial differential equations is well covered in reference [1] or any book on "Advanced engineering mathematics" such as [2,3] that also include some basic numerical analysis.

  1. Introduction to Applied Mathematics, G. Strang, Wellesley Cambridge, 1986.
  2. Advanced Engineering Mathematics 6th Edition, K.A. Stroud and D. J. Booth, Palgrave McMillan, 2007.
  3. Advanced Engineering Mathematics 9th Edition, E. Kreyzig, Wiley, 2006.

Flight Mechanics

A basic understanding of aircraft flight and flight mechanics would be advantageous before starting the course. A couple of good introductions to the subject are

1. Aircraft Flight, R. H. Barnard and D. R. Philott. Prentice Hall. 2010.
2. Introduction to Flight, J. D. Anderson. McGraw-Hill. 2005.

You might also find the following of interest:

Introduction to Aircraft Design, by John Fielding, Second Edition, Cambridge University Press.

Structural Mechanics

  • A-level mechanics: forces, moments, Newton's law, kinetic energy, and the like.
  • Basic stress analysis (this will be covered in the Revision Stress Analysis course given to all MSc students in the first two weeks of the Autumn term)

A basic understanding of structural mechanics would be useful for some of the modules, a couple of books which might be of interest are

1. Structures, J. E. Gordon. Pitman. 1979.
2. Mechanics of Engineering Materials, P. P. Benham, R. J. Crawford and C. G. Armstrong. Prentice Hall. 1996.

Seems too much? Do what you can and we will try to teach you the rest.

Good luck and see you all in October.

Dr Rob Hewson - Course Director

AERO97026 Introduction to Fluid Dynamics - Before you arrive

As part of the programme, we run a number of compulsory, non-assessed introductory modules that are intended to help ensure that you all have a standard level of knowledge that the rest of the programme will build on. One of these modules, Introduction to Fluid Dynamics, takes the form of an independent study module. This means that we provide the module materials in an online format for you to follow yourself at home: Fluid Dynamics 2020-21. This will be supported by a few hours of online lectures in August. The online lectures will include lectures on key topics of the course, and revision lectures where you will have an opportunity to ask questions and go over any issues that came up in your study. You are required to follow the course material, which should take you no more than about 20 hours. This must be done before the MSc officially starts on Monday 30th September.

Attending the online lectures is not compulsory, but is strongly encouraged. The exact dates of these online lectures will be decided later.

AERO97028 Introductory Mathematics

We are also making the Introductory Mathematics 2020-21‌ module available to you to complete before teaching commences.