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Study abroad : Subject Guides

What to expect when you study aviation

Studying aviation is both challenging and rewarding. If you have wondered what undertaking an aviation degree is all about then you are in the right place as we explore all of the details.

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At some point or another, you’ve probably wondered what it must be like to take to the skies and fly. While transforming into a bird or developing the powers of Superman’s flight are somewhat unlikely, studying a qualification in aviation is not. If you choose to study aviation you will deal with a number of key areas in the field from management to engineering, and in some cases, it can also open the door for you to become a pilot. We’ve taken a look at what to expect when you study aviation.


What exactly is aviation?


Aviation is a broad-based term that covers all aspects of mechanical flight and the management thereof. This extends to activities that happen pre-flight, for example at an airport or engineering firm, and of course during flight as a pilot or air traffic controller. You will find that studying aviation is not the equivalent of studying an aerospace or aviation engineering professional degree, although you will need to have some understanding of the field.


For the most part, students looking to get into the aviation industry will concentrate on a core competency that includes:


  • Air traffic control and management
  • Aviation management (safety, security, legislation, maintenance)
  • Professional pilot
  • Aviation regulation
  • Transportation management


Take a look at some of the universities in the UK offering aviation courses:



What are the entry requirements for an aviation degree?


Many aviation courses and degrees will have a significant focus on mathematics, engineering and science. Therefore, you will need to have a qualification that includes one or more of these or related subjects. You will need to show a good level of achievement in maths or physics, with grades that don’t drop below a B.


You will have to be able to show a good command of the English language in order to gain admission to an aviation degree. This is usually in the form of an English language test score, such as IELTS. For aviation qualifications, a minimum IELTS score of 6.0 to 6.5 with no band falling below 5.5 is usually required. For more information, you can also consult our guide to understanding English test scores and pre-sessional English courses.


Remember that not all aviation degrees are exactly the same and the requirements for a degree may differ between universities and destinations. It is recommended that you check with your prospective university as to the exact entry requirements for the aviation course you wish to study. Check if it is a certificate, diploma, or bachelor’s degree course as this can make a significant difference to the entry requirements. Some of the degrees that you may come across can include:


  • Bachelor of Aviation Engineering and Pilot Science
  • Bachelor of Science in Aviation
  • Bachelor of Science Aeronautical Technology
  • Bachelor of Engineering Aerospace Systems
  • Bachelor of Aviation Management


How long does it take to study for an aviation qualification?


The length of time that it will take you to qualify does depend on the qualification that you choose, however on average, it will take you three to four years to complete an undergraduate course. If you decide to pursue a postgraduate qualification, particularly a master’s degree this will usually take you one year of full-time study or two year’s part-time.


If you’ve taken a degree that also includes commercial pilot training, there will be a significant practical element to your course and this may include additional time added to the degree. You will also be required to gain a pilot’s license and obtain a number of flying hours before you can become a commercial pilot.


Explore some of the Canadian institutions where you can study aviation:



What will I learn when I study for an aviation qualification?


Much of what you will study during an aviation degree will depend on the particular area of interest or specialisation that you are pursuing. In the case of aviation management some of the modules and components you can expect include:


  • Aviation law
  • Aviation security
  • Aviation safety
  • Administrative management
  • Logistics
  • Business leadership
  • Financial accounting
  • Economics
  • Mathematics for business


If you’ve enrolled for an aviation operations degree with a commercial pilot path built-in you may study areas such as:


  • Professional practice
  • Engineering design
  • Computer applications
  • Fluid mechanics
  • Engineering mathematics
  • Meteorology
  • Advanced navigation
  • Aviation law and procedure
  • Aerospace technology


It’s always advisable to undertake some in-depth research about course curriculum and subjects you may study by visiting your prospective institution’s website, chatting to an education counsellor or contacting the university directly.


Check out some of the places that you can study for an aviation degree in Australia:



How do I become a pilot?


We know that this is the big questions that is on your mind. While it is not essential that you obtain a university-level qualification to become a pilot it can be beneficial and advantageous. You will be armed with a lot of critical knowledge that can help you advance and progress towards your goal to fly commercially.


In order to qualify as a pilot, you will need to undergo the necessary practical training and gain your pilot’s licence. The length of your training and what it involves may differ between certain countries, however, all countries will have an aviation authority that accredits licenses and lays out the pre-requisites for you to be able to fly.  In the UK becoming a commercial pilot involves:


  • A high-school qualification in maths or science / a degree in aviation pilot studies
  • An aptitude test
  • Obtaining a class one medical certificate
  • Flight training (simulator and in the air) at a flying school
  • Passing practical and theoretical exams (14 in total) for certification
  • Qualifying for a commercial pilot license and instrumental rating, also known as the Airline Transport Pilot License (ATPL).
  • Earning over 1,500 hours of flying experience.


Some of the key skills that you will need in order to become a pilot include:


  • Problem-solving abilities
  • Ability to work under pressure
  • Excellent communicator
  • Attention to detail
  • Technically minded


What other career options can I have?


If you’re weighing up whether studying an aviation degree will have a positive impact on your career options, it’s useful to consider that the qualification does give you access to a variable field and skills that can translate into other areas. Some of the places and roles you could find yourself working in include:


  • Airport operations
  • Logistics
  • Data analytics
  • Engineering
  • Airport management
  • Transportation management
  • Business management
  • Aviation law and legislation
  • Manufacturing
  • Supply chain management
  • Pilot
  • Air traffic controller


Studying aviation certainly has the potential to give you both a challenging and rewarding study abroad option. You’ll study a significant number of subject specialities that can set you up for an exciting and dynamic career. Now that you know a bit more, take some time to explore your options using our course matcher tool. You can also see our guide to matching your study and career path and careers for different personalities.

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