Ever wondered what it’s like to study Aerospace Engineering at UNSW?
In this article, we’ll fly through the important stuff about this degree — including its honours, subjects, assessments, culture and more!
So, let’s launch into it!
What is Aerospace Engineering at UNSW?
UNSW’s Bachelor of Aerospace Engineering explores everything theoretical and practical about airborne vehicles, including the research, analysis, design, testing and production of air and space flight. UNSW sets itself apart by instilling knowledge and skills such as flight mechanics, aerodynamics and propulsion that would meet Australia’s future employment prospects.
Moreover, the UNSW Aerospace Engineering major ensures a depth of knowledge that parallels international training, allowing you to work with aerospace industries across the globe. To prepare you for interdisciplinary teamwork, UNSW requires you to work in a team to design an aircraft that would solve a specific problem in your final year alongside your honours!
Who should study this degree?
This degree is perfect for innovative thinkers who love to reach beyond the stars to (literally) create solutions for real-life problems! It’s no doubt that you will need to enjoy maths and physics in order to make the best out of this degree.
“My favourite thing is the content I get to learn and the people to interact with everyday! Everything I learn is really practical and I can see how what is being taught in class can be applied to my future work. It can also get really fun!” — Pabodha Gunaratne, Bachelor of Engineering (Aerospace) III at UNSW
In your fourth and final year, the Honours component of UNSW’s Aerospace degree allows two options — you can choose the normal pathway where you will perform research for your thesis or the more practical alternative with a higher focus on professional development. You will need to study 12 credit points of thesis units to complete your Honours.
If you choose to research your thesis, you will need to undertake three research thesis units, such as “Research Thesis A”, “Research Thesis B” and “Research Thesis C”. Each unit is worth 4 credit points. Here, you will apply all principles you have learnt in your previous years into complex solving problems by formulating a process, design or hypothesis!
If you choose the more hands-on pathway, units such as “Thesis A” and “Thesis B” have a higher emphasis on professional skills like the preparation of proposals, reports and presentations as well as managerial and executive competency. Each unit is worth 6 credit points.
Don’t worry, you won’t be alone! Both pathways are guided by supervisors, so you’ll be supported with expert advice throughout your Honours experience.
Can you do a double degree?
Yes, UNSW provides the opportunity to complete another degree alongside its Aerospace Engineering degree in a wide variety of areas — including arts, mathematics, science, commerce, computer science, law, music and more!
For more details, check out your double degree options here!
Aerospace Engineering may seem like an extremely niche degree but it can open up a few new and exciting career prospects! Check out some of the interesting areas you can get into.
- Defence force
- Civil aerospace engineering
- Space aerospace engineering
- Industry consultants
- Automotive engineering
- Aerospace researcher
Similar Degrees at Other Universities
If you’re curious about the Aerospace Engineering courses that are offered at other universities, feel free to check out our article about the Bachelor of Engineering Honours (Aeronautical Engineering) at USYD here!
Core Units for this Degree
As an engineering degree, Aerospace Engineering’s core units are deep-rooted with physics, mathematics and computer science. Your first few years will equip you with engineering basics before moving on to the specialised principles and practice of Aerospace Engineering.
In your first year, you will cover the fundamentals of maths, physics, computer science and engineering basics. Engineering units in your first year will involve students from Aerospace, Civil, Environment, Mechanical, Mechatronics and more to instil a standardised understanding of mechanics across all engineering majors.
In second year, you will diverge from other engineering streams and dive into electrical engineering, computer science, and more maths and physics. You will also start to engage in a team project unit such as DESN2000 to develop professional, project management and teamwork skills in a group to design a solution.
Third year becomes more mechanical focused with units such as AERO3630 Aerodynamics, AERO3660 Flight Performance and AERO3110 Aerospace Design to prepare you for your thesis development in your final fourth year.
Your final fourth year will require you to complete some Aerospace Engineering units or electives alongside developing, researching and completing your thesis. These Aerospace Engineering units include ARO4620 Dynamics of Aerospace Vehicles, where you learn about the details of aerial flight including vehicle management, airborne sensors, navigation and avionics integration.
What are General Knowledge units?
To complete your degree, you will also need to study General Education units, which are typically basic first year courses from outside of the Engineering Faculty such as medicine, commerce or science. It’s a great way to broaden your experience!
You can complete your General Education units at any point in your degree!
For more information about UNSW’s General Education program, head here.
What electives are available?
If you’re not doing a double degree, UNSW also provides a diverse range of electives to choose from in your second year. Electives are different to General Education Units as electives are harder Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) subjects.
Again, you can complete your elective units at any point in your degree!
You can find the available electives here.
How can you specialise in Aerospace Engineering?
UNSW’s Aerospace Engineering major is already a specialisation of engineering in your undergraduate years! If you are looking to specialise further, you can choose to pursue further studies through postgraduate research programs.
Check out UNSW’s postgraduate engineering programs here!
Are there any built-in internships?
While UNSW’s Aerospace Engineering degree does not provide any built-in internships, you are required to complete at least 60 days of approved industrial experience to complete your degree and be qualified for accreditation under Engineers Australia. As such, you will need to find and organise your own internship experiences.
Not to worry, UNSW does help their students get started on the internship process on your very first day! During your very first lecture, UNSW invites representatives from engineering companies to introduce their internship opportunities and teach you how to apply for them.
Be on the lookout for emails and newsletters regarding the latest industrial training events throughout the year!
For more information about UNSW Engineering internships, click here!
How to Get into Aerospace Engineering at UNSW
The ATAR cut off for UNSW’s Aerospace Engineering degree is 91.
Are there any alternative pathways into UNSW Aerospace Engineering?
If you do not meet the ATAR cut off, you can still enrol in UNSW’s Aerospace Engineering degree through UNSW’s Faculty of Engineering Admission Scheme (FEAS) that is open to domestic students.
Check out the Faculty of Engineering Admission Scheme (FEAS) here!
What are the prerequisites and assumed knowledge?
While there are no prerequisites required by UNSW’s Aerospace Engineering degree, it is useful to have done HSC Physics, Mathematics Extension 1 and/or Extension 2 for some of its subjects.
For example, maths subjects such as MATH1141 and MATH1131 expect their students to have achieved a total of 175 marks in Mathematics Extension 1 and Mathematics Extension 2 combined.
What scholarships are available?
UNSW offers a variety of scholarships that are suited to your situation. You may be interested in their high school leavers and future students scholarships such as:
- UNSW Equity Scholarships 2021 ($5,000)
- Faculty of Engineering Elite Interstate Women Scholarship (UGCE1244) ($12,000)
- Women In Engineering Scholarship Program (UGCE1400) ($10,000)
Explore what UNSW scholarships are available here!
What’s the Teaching Format?
UNSW’s Aerospace Engineering degree is administered through lectures, tutorials, practical labs and workshops for 10 weeks per trimester, with 3 trimesters a year.
In lectures, professional academics will present curriculum content to a large audience. The size of lectures reduces from hundreds to less people as you progress from first year units with multiple engineering majors attending to smaller senior year units that are specialised to your Aerospace Engineering major.
Tutorials often take place later in the week to consolidate weekly lecture content. Here, your tutor prepares a set of questions to go through with your peers. It is a perfect time to ask your tutor questions about lecture content if you need!
Around 10 to 25 people can attend a tutorial in person but online tutorials can fit up to 60 people.
Workshops are carried out mostly in the first year as it lessens over time. Most workshops are part of the physics courses where you are given a bunch of questions that you have to answer on the spot as your supervisors assess and guide you towards the most appropriate response.
Otherwise, you can also use this time to ask for help from your supervisors regarding your assessments and tasks. Around 25 to 30 people can attend one workshop.
Practical lab size and activities vary depending on the subject! Engineering labs often have less people as there is only one machine for one cohort at times so it is carried out in groups of 5 but Physics labs can be quite crowded with 50 students working on different machines.
There are also theoretical labs where you have to learn one big concept throughout the trimester and answer a bunch of questions rather than doing experiments.
Meanwhile, practical teamwork labs are more hands on where you work in a group to choose a project, design a product and write a big final report for teamwork based units such as DESN2000.
What are the contact hours like?
UNSW’s Aerospace Engineering degree can be quite exhausting with a total of 20 or more contact hours, totalling up to 4 to 5 days a week on campus!
While 20 hours may not seem like a lot, the days on campus are filled with extra time outside of classes — in the workshops and labs to complete your final projects in time before the trimesters end.
What are assessments like?
UNSW’s Aerospace Engineering assess its students through weekly quizzes, presentations, laboratory work, final reports, projects and exams.
Weekly quizzes are a very common assessment for all subjects of the Aerospace Engineering degree to consolidate your theoretical understanding. For programming units, you will be tasked weekly quizzes to complete where you will need to practice coding scripts.
Projects are often tasked in programming units where you have to create a big program that is either a game (eg. a card game) or a system (eg. a robot distributing fruits). These big projects can be quite time consuming as there are lots of bugs you have to fix throughout your semester to deliver a smooth-sailing project!
For more practical units such as your team-based subjects, you may be asked to present your findings and project proposal individually or as a group. There are a couple of presentations per trimester.
Physics labs are often carried out once a week where students are allocated investigations and activities to do that are later assessed by supervisors.
Final reports are often allocated in more practical units such as engineering subjects, where you have to work in a group to work on a problem, design a product and write a final report justifying your design with evidence based research.
For example, you can choose a project to develop a home product to alleviate posture problems stemming from an increase of stay-at-home jobs due to COVID, so you may design a chair as a solution.
Final exams are usually carried out in more theoretical units such as maths, physics and computer science. Computer science final exams are less stressful as they usually test your coding basics and the final project already takes up most of your time.
It is advised that you shouldn’t leave studying to the last minute, as cramming will not work —especially when you have multiple heavy exams in one week! So, be sure to catch up on your studying earlier on.
What skills will you develop?
Aerospace Engineering at UNSW imparts a broad range of skills that are well-sought after by any employer.
As Aerospace Engineering involves team effort across the globe, effective communication and leadership is important to deliver large projects smoothly in a multidisciplinary team. Executive skills such as time management are highly valued in this field too, especially in an industry with tight deadlines to meet.
With its open-ended projects, UNSW prompts its students to balance between thinking critically and creatively to pioneer designs that are both innovative and robust. To do this, UNSW drills the significance of applying theory to methods, forming a strong evidence-based practice with reputable integrity.
With these skills, UNSW produces front-runner engineers who are not afraid to step beyond the known and make aspirational solutions a reality.
What’s the Faculty and Culture Like?
Believe it or not, UNSW’s Aerospace cohort is considered small with only 200-300 students per year! It’s because other engineering cohorts such as Electrical, Civil and Mechanical have way more students enrolled. This small cohort comes with many pros!
UNSW’s lecturers and tutors are all highly qualified, experienced and passionate in helping their students score well. If anything, they are one of the reasons why UNSW is ranked #1 for Engineering and Technology in Australia!
Lecturers such as Dr David Kellermann are exceptionally helpful and organised with an engaging course structure that keeps students studying throughout the term so you won’t fall behind! UNSW tutors can also be very supportive, with Dr Daniel Mansfield who creates videos to help answer questions and posts solutions for students to prepare for the final exams.
A small cohort can also mean more attention from your lecturers and tutors — making your degree worth it!
Unlike other Engineering majors, UNSW’s Aerospace Engineering cohort is smaller than others, making it easier to find friends. Although it may be a struggle at first, you will find yourself surrounded with those who share the same interests and passions as you as the classes start becoming more focused on Aerospace Engineering.
Engineering students are often very helpful and welcoming, ready to support each other because they all know how strenuous assessments can be!
Clubs and Societies
UNSW has a wide array of clubs and societies that you can join! There are 16 engineering related societies that you can join such as UNSW Engineering Society, Women in Engineering Society and Engiqueers UNSW.
Otherwise, feel free to venture outside of engineering and check out the other 300 societies UNSW has!
What support programs are available?
For new students, there are a few peer support programs such as the UNSW Engineering Society Peer Mentoring Program that is available for all students enrolled in the Faculty of Engineering.
It’s really useful in helping you transition from high school to university life! Two mentors will be allocated to a group of 3 to 5 first years, where you will meet every week to bond, gain tips and attend events such as movie nights, sports day and resume workshops.
For more information, check out this website!
There are also some peer mentoring programs for specific groups too. You can check them out here!
For current students, workshops such as mechanical workshops and computer labs are open outside of class times so students can come in and complete their projects using machines under supervision. Here, they can also ask for help and advice from helpers that are around.
Kate Lynn Law graduated in 2017 with an all rounders HSC award and an ATAR of 97.65. Passionate about mentoring, she enjoys working with high school students to improve their academic, work and life skills in preparation for the HSC and what comes next. An avid blogger, Kate had administered a creative writing page for over 2000 people since 2013, writing to an international audience since her early teenage years.