MSc in Space Systems Engineering

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Out of this world. Space technology at Southampton

Ambitious graduates of the University of Southampton’s new master’s programme in Space Systems Engineering can look forward to careers beyond the stratosphere.

This new postgraduate degree will give scientists and engineers the essential expert knowledge and skills to enable them to compete for jobs in the fast-growing world of space engineering.

The UK's thriving space sector already contributes £7.5bn a year to the country’s economy, directly employs 24,900 people and supports a further 60,000 jobs across a variety of industries. It is growing at up to ten percent a year.

Career opportunities abound, ranging from satellite development with commercial companies to research and exploration posts with space agencies worldwide.

“ We saw there was a real demand for a degree at master’s level to educate the next generation of space scientists and engineers,” says Dr Guglielmo Aglietti, head of the University’s Astronautics research group. “Southampton already teaches the subject to undergraduates and has an active PhD programme. We also provide courses of space systems engineering to Industry and staff members of the European Space Agency.”

The MSc in Space Systems Engineering involves taught courses in many aspects of relevant technologies and a group project.

Southampton students are aiming at the moon

Space systems students at the University of Southampton are taking part in an ambitious European mission to design, build and launch a spacecraft to orbit the moon.

The European Student Moon Orbiter (ESMO) is on schedule for launch in 2014. Twenty three teams from 19 universities across Europe are involved; Southampton’s contribution is in the area of systems engineering, making sure the various elements of the spacecraft will work together during its mission.

PhD student Adam White is among the students working on the European Space Agency project: “It’s great to take part in a real life mission working on a spacecraft that will actually be launched and will carry out scientific experiments. This experience will certainly help me in securing a good job after my doctorate,” he says.

Adam is combining his PhD studies into the safe removal of space debris, with work as a research assistant and has attended the Inter-Agency Space Debris Coordination meeting in Berlin.

Leading UK space company Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL) is managing the ESMO mission. Kevin Hall from SSTL says: “We were delighted to get involved with this exciting and challenging project. This is our opportunity to work with talented students on cutting edge technologies. Across the UK and Europe, many companies and organisations are looking to recruit people experienced in this area.”

Opportunities in space engineering

It all began 50 years ago when Yuri Gagarin hit the headlines worldwide with his pioneering space flight. A few years later, the first satellites revolutionised global communications. Opportunities now abound for skilled people in the industry as space engineering grows in importance.

“This is a very exciting area of science and engineering,” says admissions tutor Dr Adrian Tatnall. “We have experience across the board of teaching undergraduates and postgraduate students and providing continuous professional development courses for staff at the European Space Agency, mainly at its Space Research and Technology Centre at Noordwijk in the Netherlands.”

Career prospects for space systems engineers look even better in future years as the industry matures.David Willetts, Government Minister for Universities and Science, has already observed that the UK’s space sector is a key driver of economic growth and is increasing rapidly each year.


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(applications accepted up to programme commencement)



Cassini (image credit: NASA)

Cassini (image credit: NASA)

An interferometric cartwheel constellation

An interferometric cartwheel constellation