Space Engineering MSc

The University of Surrey is at the forefront of a revolution in space, utilising new advances in technology to decrease the cost of space exploration. Surrey was the pioneer of sophisticated ‘micro-satellites’ in the 1980s and has gone on to have a sustained programme of building complete satellites, performing mission planning, working with international launch agencies and providing in-orbit operations.

Why Surrey?

We have a unique concentration of academic staff experienced in the satellite area, as well as developed contacts with all the major satellite manufacturers, operators and service providers. Industry participates in the MSc programme in both lecturing and projects, and facilitates excellent engagement for our students.

Programme overview

Our Space Engineering programme is designed to give you the specialist multidisciplinary knowledge and skills required for a career working with space technology and its applications. Surrey students have access to all aspects of the design and delivery of spacecraft and payloads and are very attractive to companies in the space-related industries. As we develop and execute complete space missions, from initial concept to hardware design, manufacturing and testing, to in orbit operations (controlled by our ground station at the Surrey Space Centre) you will have the chance to be involved in, and gain experience of, real space missions.

Why not read about past and present student experiences of our electronic engineering programmes, including Christopher Lord, Christos Merkouris and Prashant Butani?

Programme structure

Our MSc programmes are made up of eight taught modules. Each module is worth 15 credits. A project, worth 60 credits, is introduced in Semester 1 and runs beyond Semester 2. This brings the total to 180 credits for the programme.

The MSc Space Engineering comprises eight taught modules, four in Semester 1 and four in Semester 2. Half of these modules are optional modules, enabling you to tailor your programme to match your interests.

Your project is chosen in Semester 1 and work on it begins in Semester 2 on a part-time basis. Over the summer (project) period you will be working on your project on a full-time basis, with final report and a viva voce assessment conducted at the end of the academic year.

Taught Masters programmes in the Department of Electronic Engineering utilise our research-active staff in conjunction with state-of-the-art facilities. We provide a range of learning experiences – lectures, tutorials, directed study, practical laboratories and project work – that will prepare you for your professional life. The academic staff who teach on this programme are all research-active, and the specialist space modules are delivered by staff recognised as world leaders in small satellite technology.

We are particularly keen to develop in all our students a broad range of generic skills to complement the core technical or scientific competencies of their chosen subject area. Our modular programme format, coupled with the increasing use of innovative teaching and learning strategies such as e-learning and industrially focused short courses, provides a flexible study environment whilst maintaining academic rigour and quality.

All modules are assessed by a combination of formal written examinations, taken at the end of each semester, and coursework assignments.

You will be assigned a personal tutor who will help you to monitor your progress. Very often this tutor will also be your project supervisor, who will guide you through your project work.

Module overview

C - Compulsory, O - Optional
Modules Credits MSc
Space Dynamics and Missions 15 C
Space Systems Design 15 C
Advanced Guidance, Navigation & Control 15 O
Launch Vehicles & Space Propulsion 15 O
RF Systems and Circuit Design 15 O
Advanced Satellite Communication Techniques 15 O
Satellite Remote Sensing 15 O
Space Avionics 15 O
Space Environment & Protection 15 O
Space Robotics & Autonomy 15 O
Spacecraft Structures & Mechanisms 15 O
MSc Project 60 C

Module descriptions

Compulsory modules:

  • Space Dynamics and Missions

This module gives a hands on approach to mission analysis, and develops mathematical descriptions of the natural orbital and rotational motions of spacecraft. The application to mission design is explored through group work and assessed labs.

  • Space Systems Design

This module gives an overview of all spacecraft subsystems (hardware) explaining their functions and interactions. Key principles and techniques of spacecraft systems design are introduced, through real-world examples, delivered by a lecturer with more than 25 years' practical experience of designing and building spacecraft systems and payloads.

  • MSc Project

Optional modules:

  • Advanced Guidance, Navigation & Control

This module provides you with advanced understanding of the dynamics of satellites and methods for controlling their motion. By the end of the course you will appreciate real satellite orbits, and know how to model them. You will also develop knowledge on sensors and actuators, developing real-world control algorithms for attitude and orbit control.

  • Launch Vehicles & Space Propulsion

This module provides an introduction to the fundamentals of launch vehicle design for placing satellites into orbit as well as propulsion technologies including solid, liquid and hybrid rocket motor systems, and a brief introduction to electric propulsion (plasma thrusters).

  • RF Systems and Circuit Design

The design of RF systems and their circuits underpins the production of mobile communications, satellite communications, radar and intelligent wireless devices, to name just a few. This module focuses on state-of-the-art applications and demonstrates the importance of underlying theoretical and design concepts.

  • Advanced Satellite Communication Techniques

This is a more advanced communications module building on Satellite Communications A. You will learn about state-of-the-art aspects of air interface (modulation/coding) and inclusion in DVB and ETSI standards; satellite broadcasting to fixed and mobile terminals; and broadband access and vsats. You will also be taught on non-geostationary constellations and operations with mobile terminals; networking issues of IP over satellite and security; radio resource management and MAC; advanced payload design including multibeam antennas and on-board processing; and inter satellite links.

  • Satellite Remote Sensing

Through a series of lectures, seminars, open discussions and 'thinking breaks' in class, this module aims to give you an introduction to the scientific principles of remote sensing – both passive and active – as carried out by spacecraft. Remote sensing is discussed in terms of instrumentation, missions, products and applications.

  • Space Avionics

This module examines the electrical and electronic systems on a spacecraft and how they interact; including spacecraft power systems, tracking, telemetry-and-telecommand (TT&C), on-board data handling, and ground/mission software.

  • Space Environment & Protection

This module delivers a detailed understanding of the space environment in which satellites must operate (including space weather) and the effects that that it has on components, technologies and missions. Mitigation measures and assurance processes are addressed.

  • Space Robotics & Autonomy

This module covers the techniques and challenges involved in space robotic missions for on-orbit servicing and planetary exploration. A detailed mathematical analysis of the robotic arms will be provided, and you will be taught about control of robotic arm and traction control of planetary rovers. Various aspects and techniques of improving autonomy of space robotic systems will be introduced, including sensing, perception, localisation, mapping, autonomous planning and navigation.

  • Spacecraft Structures & Mechanisms

This module provides an understanding of the issues that have to be addressed in the design and analysis of spacecraft structures and mechanisms. Starting from the definition of the launch environment the module covers the whole process up to final testing.

Professional recognition

The Institution of Engineering and Technology

Our full-time and part-time programmes are accredited by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET). They can be used in partial fulfilment of the requirements for gaining Chartered Engineer (CEng) status, and are countable under the continuing professional development (CPD) scheme.

Related programmes

Postgraduate (Taught)

Professional development

Related departments/schools

Related research areas

Programme leader

Professor Guglielmo S Aglietti

Find out more

General enquiries:

+44 (0)1483 681 681

Admissions enquiries:


Programme facts

Type of programme:


Programme length:

  • Full-time: 12 months
  • Part-time: 60 months

Start date:

Sep 2016

Entry Requirements

An honours degree in a relevant engineering discipline, mathematics, computing or physical sciences. Our minimum entry level is a 2.2 from a good UK university, or overseas equivalent. Relevant industrial experience will also be considered.

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English language requirements

We offer intensive English language pre-sessional courses, designed to take you to the level of English ability and skill required for your studies here.


Study mode Start date UK/EU fees Overseas fees
Full-time Sep 2016 £8,000 £18,000
Part-time Sep 2016 £900* £2,000*

Please note these fees are for the academic year 2016/2017 only. Annual fees will rise by four per cent (rounded up to the nearest £100) for each year of study.

A complete list of all fees for our Masters Programmes


Discounts for Surrey graduates

Thinking of continuing your education at Surrey? As an alumnus of Surrey you may be eligible for a ten per cent discount on our taught Masters programme fees. Learn more.

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GREAT Surrey Scholarships India

For for all postgraduate taught courses starting in February 2017 within the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences, the University is offering graduates from India the opportunity to apply for one of three scholarships worth £5,000 through the GREAT Scholarships - India programme. 

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Further information for applicants

Postgraduate Study Advice

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Modules listed are indicative, reflecting the information available at the time of publication. Please note that not all modules described are compulsory and may be subject to teaching availability and/or student demand.

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