This course is offered subject to final University approval

The emergence of transformative automated and autonomous technology in both manned and unmanned air traffic management systems, including new, sustainable and intelligent aerial platforms, to transport people and goods, represents the next cornerstone in the aerospace industry’s on-going evolution.

This is driven by market and industry trends such as the digitalisation of Air Traffic Management (ATM), the explosion of Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) applications in recent years and their integration into manned aviation airspace. This is creating a significant demand for talented graduates who can help unlock the full potential of Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) applications. The Advanced Air Mobility Systems MSc is designed to equip you with the skills required to pursue a successful career in transforming the aviation industry, applying the knowledge learned to introduce new automated and autonomous solutions, to enable a safe, orderly and expeditious integrated airspace, where unmanned aerial systems operate along side manned aircraft.


  • Start dateOctober
  • DurationFull-time one year; part-time up to three years; PgCert 1 year; PgDip 2 years.
  • DeliveryTaught modules 40%, group project 20% (or dissertation for part-time students), individual project 40%
  • QualificationMSc
  • Study typeFull-time / Part-time
  • CampusCranfield campus

Who is it for?

This course provides engineering, physics, computing, or mathematics graduates with advanced skills which can be applied to aviation, drone, security, defence, and aerospace industries.

Why this course?

The Advanced Air Mobility Systems MSc is designed to equip you with the skills required to pursue a successful career in transforming the aviation industry, applying the knowledge learned to introduce new automated and autonomous solutions to improve the industry as a whole.
Taught through a unique combination of theoretical and practical-based sessions, you will cover subjects in ATM, Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM), enabling sensor infrastructure (communications, navigation, surveillance), sensor fusion and artificial intelligence for autonomous systems. The MSc course content has been based on advice from the Industrial Advisory Board, comprising industrial representatives from big primes to small- and medium-sized enterprises. The Industrial Advisory Board also recommend thesis and project topics ensuring their real-world relevance, another effective differentiator in the job market. This allows students to familiarise themselves with companies from the Industrial Advisory Board and be exposed to their research interests, paving the way for potential job opportunities.
This course is unique in that it offers a combination of subjects much sought after in the aviation, air traffic, and drone industries, that are not covered in a single MSc course anywhere else, giving particular emphasis to the digitalised integrated architecture, the enabling sensor infrastructure (incl. communication, navigation, and surveillance) and intelligent algorithms, such as flight management and planning, and deconfliction. Successful graduates of our MSc course become conversant in key aspects of automation and autonomy in emerging manned/unmanned traffic management which places them at an advantage in today's competitive employment market.
A key feature of the MSc is the inclusion of a CAA approved UAV remote pilot competence course. The course incorporates a ground school element for flight planning – covering principles of flight, rules and regulations of the air, using aviation charts, risk assessment and meteorology – and flight training to provide basic pilot competence, including how to respond in an emergency and being able to operate safety features. Successful completion of the course allows students to fly small UAV’s in the Open Category.

Informed by industry

The MSc course content has been based on advice from the Industrial Advisory Board (IAB), comprising industrial representatives from big primes to small- and medium-sized enterprises. The relevant, competent and pro-active Industrial Advisory Board includes:

  • Boeing UK
  • Connected Places Catapult
  • Thales
  • Spirent
  • BAE Systems
  • ANRA Technologies
  • NATS
  • Heathrow
  • SAAB
  • QinetiQ
  • FlugAuto
  • General Atomics Aeronautical Systems UK
  • Blue Bear Systems Research Ltd.
  • Rolls-Royce
  • Lockheed Martin UK
  • Northrop Grumman
  • QuadSAT

Members of the Board not only continuously advise on updating the course content but also provide topics for individual research projects (IRPs). After the final oral exams in early September, all students present posters summarising their IRPs to the whole Industrial Advisory Board, thus exposing their work to seasoned professionals and potential employers. The IRPs benefit from our own lab where real autonomous vehicles can be designed and tested.

Course details

The MSc course consists of three weighted components, taught modules, and individual research project, and a group project. The taught course element includes eight taught compulsory modules, generally delivered from October to March. The eight modules cover the fundamentals of Air Traffic Management (ATM) and communications systems and progresses to the core subjects of sensor fusion, guidance and navigation, AI for autonomous systems, and Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM).

The taught part of the course is followed by a Group Design Project (GDP) and individual research projects (IRPs). The GDP enables students to work as part of a team, develop project planning and management skills, and communications abilities, to design, implement, validate and test an advanced air mobility system component, applying the knowledge acquired in the taught modules and integrate the various methods learned.

Students are also supported in their learning and personal development through participation in: industry seminars, group poster sessions, group discussions, group presentations, video demonstrations, case studies, laboratory experiments, coursework, and project work. Students will receive hands-on experience accessing equipment and facilities within our Digital Aviation research and Technology Centre and Aerospace Integration Research Centre.

The course is subject to final university approval, once received module summaries will be listed. The proposed modules include:

Air Traffic Management
Systems Engineering
Communications Systems
Sensor Fusion
Intelligent Cyber Physical Systems
Artificial Intelligence for Autonomous Systems
Guidance and Navigation for Autonomous Systems
Unmanned traffic Management

Course delivery

Taught modules 40%, group project 20% (or dissertation for part-time students), individual project 40%

Group project

The group design project facilitates the design, build, and operation of autonomous solutions for the emerging Advanced Air Mobility Systems market, modernised and integrated manned/unmanned Traffic Management, thus integrating and applying the knowledge students acquire in the taught modules. The group design project also aims to provide students with experience of working on a collaborative engineering project, within an industry structured team, developing transferable skills that include working in a team with members having diverse backgrounds and expertise, project management, and technical presentations.
Part-time students are encouraged to participate in a group project as it provides a wealth of learning opportunities. However, an option of an individual dissertation is available if agreed with the Course Director.

Individual project

Our industry partners sponsor individual research projects allowing you to choose a topic that is commercially relevant and current. Topics are chosen during the first teaching period in October and you begin work during the second half of the MSc course (May-August). The project allows you to delve deeper into an area of specific interest, taking the theory from the taught modules and joining it with practical experience.
Projects encompass various aspects of operations, not only concerned with design but including civil applications, architectures, systems, sensors, and other feasibility studies industry wishes to explore.
For the duration of the project, each student is assigned both a university and industry supervisor. In recent years, students have been based at sponsor companies for sections of their research and have been given access to company software/facilities.
During the thesis project, all students give regular presentations to the course team and class, which provides an opportunity to improve your presentation skills and learn more about the broad range of industry-sponsored projects.
For part-time students, it is common that their research thesis is undertaken in collaboration with their place of work.


Keeping our courses up-to-date and current requires constant innovation and change. The modules we offer reflect the needs of business and industry and the research interests of our staff and, as a result, may change or be withdrawn due to research developments, legislation changes or for a variety of other reasons. Changes may also be designed to improve the student learning experience or to respond to feedback from students, external examiners, accreditation bodies and industrial advisory panels.

To give you a taster, we have listed the compulsory and elective (where applicable) modules which are currently affiliated with this course. All modules are indicative only, and may be subject to change for your year of entry.

Course modules

Compulsory modules
All the modules in the following list need to be taken as part of this course.

Teaching team

You will be taught by Cranfield's experienced academic staff. Our staff are practitioners as well as tutors, with clients which include the members of the Industrial Advisory Board and beyond. Knowledge gained working with our clients is continually fed back into the teaching programme, to ensure provision of durable and transferrable skills practised on problems relevant to industry. Additionally, experienced members of the Industrial Advisory Board deliver industrial seminars in which they share their experience and explain the research and development proprieties of their companies. The Course Director for this programme is Dr Dimitrios Panagiotakopoulos.


Accreditation will be sought for the MSc in Advanced Air Mobility Systems from the Royal Aeronautical Society (RAeS) and the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET).
It is becoming clear that Advanced Air Mobility [encompassing subject areas such as digitalization of Air traffic Management (ATM), Unmanned Aircraft Systems Traffic Management (UTM) and Urban Air Mobility (UAM)] will be a major transformative factor in the aerospace, defence, and security sectors. In the UK, and wider in the EU, we perceive a shortage of qualified people trained in Advanced Air Mobility (AAM), specifically in autonomy and automation in ATM, UTM and UAM. In particular, we would need not only engineers but also software and application developers with a deep understanding of the AAM subject areas described above, tailoring them to tackle ambitious industrial problems of enabling ubiquitous UAS operations and their seamless integration into conventional manned aviation. We need employees able to address complex, real-world problems, who have state-of-the-art ATM, UTM and UAM expertise, and who are equipped to work collaboratively across traditional disciplinary boundaries. This rounded skillset is of high importance to us, and the MSc course in AAM is perfectly suited to fill this gap.

Your career

Industry-led education makes Cranfield graduates some of the most desirable all over the world for recruitment by both global primes to smaller innovative start-ups looking for the brightest talent. Industrial contact may take place even from the Individual Research Project that enables familiarisation with our Industry Advisory Board, which include: From the 

  • BAE Systems,
  • Thales 
  • SAAB
  • Boeing
  • NATS
  • Heathrow Airport
  • Inmarsat

Graduates from this course will be equipped with the advanced skills which could be applied to the aviation, air traffic, air transport, security, defence, and aerospace industries. This approach offers you a wide range of career choices as an autonomous systems engineer, design engineer, or in an operations role, at graduation, and in the future. Others decide to continue their education through PhD studies available within Cranfield University or elsewhere.

How to apply

Online application form. UK students are normally expected to attend an interview and financial support is best discussed at this time. Overseas and EU students may be interviewed by telephone.