The module descriptors for our undergraduate courses can be found below:

  • Four year Aeronautical Engineering degree (H401)
  • Four year Aeronautical Engineering with a Year Abroad stream (H410)

Students on our H420 programme follow the same programme as the H401 spending fourth year in industry.

The descriptors for all programmes are the same (including H411).


Aerospace Vehicle Design

Module aims

The design of aerospace vehicles is a complex, multidisciplinary endeavour. This module offers you an opportunity to integrate and apply your prior knowledge and analytical skills to the design of an aircraft of conventional architecture, starting from only a simple set of operational requirements, while introducing them to the multi-stage approach and methods typically employed by vehicle design teams.

Learning outcomes

On successfully completing this module, you should be able to:

  • Appreciate the importance of the design process for the overall future success of a new aircraft project;
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the key operational, legal, sustainability and environmental drivers and constraints in the evolution of a new aircraft configuration, starting from an initial set of operational requirements;
  • Synthesize and apply their broad aeronautical knowledge to practical aircraft design problems through use of appropriate methodologies, tools and terminology;
  • Better recognise the order of magnitude of various design parameters;
  • Appreciate the relative importance of design choices, as determined by a problem's inherent level of uncertainty, as you progress thought the stages of a design project;
  • Tackle complex, multidisciplinary design problems where there is significant uncertainty;
  • Collaborate and communicate as a member of a small, multidisciplinary design team.

Module syllabus

Conceptual Design Stage:
The design process and available tools; Design Target Specification; Airworthiness Requirements and Standards; Baseline Configuration Development; Initial Sizing Process; Powerplant Selection & Integration; Systems Selection, Layout & Packaging; Fuselage Design; Flying Surface Design; High-Lift Device Selection and Design; Flight Control Surface Design; Undercarriage Layout and Design; Aerodynamic Analysis; Introduction to Structural Layout, Loads and Aeroelastics; Weight and Balance Estimations; Stability and Control, Handling Qualities; Performance Estimation; Cost Estimation.
Preliminary & Detail Design Stages. 
Introduction to Airframe Design; Preliminary Design of Wing Boxes; Use of flight envelope to demonstrate interaction between design, aerodynamics and stress; Preliminary Design of Wing Structures from UAS to commercial jets; Preliminary Design of Fuselage Structures under pressure. U/C loads etc.; Cut-outs design; Design of fatigue prone components, such as root fittings, spar boom splices, windows etc.; Practical fail safe and safe life design.; Finite Element analysis of airframe components; ESDU data sheets relating to structural strength, stability and fatigue.

Teaching methods

The module utilizes a project-based, student-centred learning approach, whereby you will carry out the project in a small group. While you will primarily learn through the conduct of the project itself, extensive support material is available in the form of pre-recorded online lectures, a wide variety of reference texts, weekly drop-in tutorials with the tutors and an online discussion forum.


Examined Assessment:

  • An interim, aircraft initial sizing and configuration exercise and poster (Group Submission) (15%)
  • A conceptual design report (35%)
  • A report on the preliminary design of the aircraft’s airframe and the detailed design of a structural component (40%)
  • Performance during structural testing (10%)

Reading list

Conceptual Design

Preliminary Airframe Design

Module leaders

Dr Errikos Levis