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Space Engineering PhD

Key information

Qualification type

PhD/DPhil - Doctor of Philosophy

Subject areas

Space Technology Aerospace Engineering

Course type


Course Summary

Why choose this course

The Surrey Space Centre (SSC) is the largest UK academic centre for space engineering research. With a host of expert academics and close links with industries, SSC offers the ideal research environment for the next generation of space scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs.

As a PhD candidate within the Centre, you will work alongside academics, postdoctorate researchers and fellow postgraduate researchers, as they push the boundaries of low-cost small satellites and develop new innovative technologies. You will also benefit from the Centre’s strong academic-industrial strategic partnership with both Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL) and Airbus DS.

Throughout your research you will have access to our world-class academic research facilities, covering advanced multidisciplinary small satellite and space system engineering techniques for Earth orbit and interplanetary space; innovative communications, remote sensing, robotics and space science payloads for small satellites; and enabling technologies for low-cost space exploitation and planetary exploration.

Following completion of your PhD you will able to apply for membership with the Institute of Engineering and Technology (IET), Chartered Engineer status with the Engineering Council UK and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).

What you will study

Postgraduate researchers are registered for a maximum four year period of full-time study. After twelve months you write a confirmation report, which is assessed by two independent examiners. You will submit a written PhD thesis after a minimum three years of full-time study. A detailed evaluation of progress and future research plans is made every six months to ensure that progress towards completion of the PhD remains satisfactory.

You will be allocated two Surrey-based academic supervisors, in addition to any external collaborative supervisors. Your principal supervisor will be an expert in your area of research and will be in charge of monitoring your research progress. The supervisors will help you to define the initial objective and scope of your research, and to refine these as the project evolves. They will direct you to resources to help you learn the necessary experimental, theoretical or computing skills and will advise you on the completion of your PhD and the content of your thesis. External collaborative supervisors are appointed in many cases, in order to contribute specific expertise or facilitate access to resources or organisations.

Research themes

Our nine research themes cover a range of topics including, but not limited to, the following:

  • Astrodynamics
  • Autonomy and robotics
  • Environments and instrumentation
  • On-Board data handing
  • Plasma propulsion
  • Remote sensing applications
  • Robotics and control
  • Space environments and protection
  • Space structures, material and mechanisms.

Other activities, such as space debris removal, solar sails, and nanosatellite mission development, are being carried out across multiple research groups.

Different course options

Full time | University of Surrey | 4 years | OCT-20

Study mode

Full time


4 years

Start date


Tuition fees

UK fees
Course fees for UK / EU students

For this course (per year)


Average for all Postgrad courses (per year)


International fees
Course fees for non-UK / EU students

For this course (per year)


Average for all Postgrad courses (per year)


Entry requirements

Applicants are required to have either: A minimum of a 2:1 UK honours degree or a recognised equivalent international qualification, in a relevant discipline; A 2:2 degree and a distinction at masters level.

University information

The University of Surrey is proud of the cultural diversity of its international community. Over 3,500 postgraduate students, from more than 120 countries across the globe, come to Surrey each year. As a research-led university, Surrey's outstanding contributions benefit society as a whole and address major global challenges. The research-intensive learning environment makes it the perfect choice if you want to study somewhere where you can...more

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