Aeronautical and Automotive Engineering

Qualification(s) available: PhD

Entry requirements
3 years
6 years
Start date
1 January, 1 April, 1 July or 1 October
UK fee
To be confirmed
International fee


Our reputation for pioneering and topical research is built on a long and successful history with aeronautical and automotive engineering. With programmes dating back to 1919, our reputation for research has been built on over 100 years of excellence.

Our mission is to deliver world-leading excellence in our research, covering a full spectrum of engineering, technology and science activity essential to the fast-paced aeronautical and automotive industry.

The department comprises of around 37 academic staff and nearly 150 postgraduate students on taught and research programmes. By choosing to study one of our research degrees, you'll not only be immersed in a vibrant research community which is supportive and nurturing, you'll also have access to a rich research network which presents the opportunity to forge lasting links with industry.

The industry-focused environment at Loughborough creates a distinctive background to undertake your research degree in aeronautical engineering or automotive engineering. As well as working closely with your academic supervisors, many of whom are leading in their area of expertise, a result of our close relationship with industry means that our research remains at the cutting-edge of the aeronautical and automotive sectors.

A PhD programme will allow you to make new discoveries, with our excellent laboratories and facilities providing a platform for world-class research. You'll gain all the knowledge, skills and expertise needed for a career in engineering, research or academia. With our support, you'll become an expert in your chosen field of study, developing research and management skills to give your career the perfect lift-off.

We have four major research working groups working across the technologies of automotive and aeronautical engineering, each working on a variety of research topics. These range from the development of new, low emissions combustion systems for gas turbine engines, through to fundamental investigations into the operation of hydrogen powered fuel cells.

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Why you should choose us

Our research

Connected and autonomous transportation

Building on an already internationally recognised research pedigree in control of autonomous vehicles, this now extends to tackle the challenges of connected and autonomous transportation. With technological advances investigated in in-vehicle systems, vehicle to vehicle systems and vehicle to infrastructure, improving safety, decreasing congestion and increased freedom of movement is our forecasted impact. In the air, revolutionising health monitoring, risk analysis and mitigation, improved swarm/fleet technology and control, and exploration to new domains (ie agriculture) and their challenges give plentiful opportunity for inspired research.

Advanced simulation modelling and data-driven engineering

The rapidly changing landscape of automotive technology, including electrification, connectivity and a zero physical prototyping ambition provides the exciting challenge of a new comprehensive approach to digital vehicle engineering. Providing a platform for integrated, hardware-in-the-loop simulation, development of sustainable and reliable digital twins, coupled with the latest AI and data-driven methods form the strategic research direction for digital tools that provide a more flexible and ambitious approach for all stages of the design, product development and manufacturing process.

Alternative powertrains for transport energy reduction

With the surge for greater eco-friendliness, the emergence of alternative powertrains is key to the future transportation mix. Our research explores the breadth of options, with full electrification, hybrid technology, battery modelling, and hydrogen fuel cells. Though with a current predominance in the automotive sector, both for personal and public transportation, movements to explore the design of hybrid, self-generating and super-fast charging systems for electric aircraft provide new exciting opportunities. Maximising the decarbonisation of transport in a sustainable way is critical, where degradation phenomenon, system health monitoring, integrated through-life support, infrastructure and economic viability also pose challenging research agendas.

Net-zero combustion

One future-proof focus for next generation transportation is tackling the reduction of emissions.

Complex aerodynamic research on novel gas turbine combustor designs for future aircraft, through both experimental and computational studies, is carried out alongside our long-established Rolls-Royce University Technology Centre and within the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral training in Future Propulsion and Power, in partnership with Oxford and Cambridge. On the automotive side, drag reduction through innovative aerodynamic design, supported by Jaguar Land Rover, and dynamic platooning architectures, coupled with radical developments and research innovations in automotive engine design, lightweight structures and composite materials, combine to create a future vehicle with net-zero emission potential.

Your development

Support from your supervisor

You will be assigned a supervisory team who, together with the Director of Doctoral Programmes, provides academic and pastoral support. Training and departmental seminars will help you to develop your skills and you will be expected to present your own research papers. You will be provided with your own desk and computer in a shared departmental office, with access to library and IT facilities.

Skills and experience

A PhD programme will give you the opportunity to develop new and highly sought after skills which can set you up for a range of careers. It’s a chance to make a novel contribution to knowledge, to become a world expert in a particular field and it can open a range of doors with different employers. You'll also enhance your interpersonal skills, such as networking and relationship building, which will be invaluable in your future career.

Our extensive training provision, supported by the Doctoral College, will also enhance your skills and experience as a researcher. These include Café Academiques, a research conference and the Summer Showcase.

Your future career

Recent graduate destinations include:

  • Key Account Manager, BFCEC
  • Automotive Instructor, Bahrain Training Institute
  • Software Engineer, Changan UK R&D Center
  • Structural Dynamics Engineer, EADS Astrium (France)
  • Estimator, Galliford Try
  • Purchase Engineer, J J Electric Ltd (Thailand)
  • Graduate Production Engineering, Shell
  • Testing Engineer, TVS Motor company (India)

Entry requirements

Our entry requirements are listed using standard UK undergraduate degree classifications i.e. first-class honours, upper second-class honours and lower second-class honours. To learn the equivalent for your country, please choose it from the dropdown below.

Entry requirements for United Kingdom

A 2:1 honours degree (or equivalent international qualification) in engineering, mathematics or science.

English language requirements

Applicants must meet the minimum English language requirements. Further details are available on the International website.

Fees and funding

UK fee

Full-time degree per annum
To be confirmed

International fee

Full-time degree per annum

Tuition fees cover the cost of your teaching, assessment and operating University facilities such as the library, IT equipment and other support services. University fees and charges can be paid in advance and there are several methods of payment, including online payments and payment by instalment. Fees are reviewed annually and are likely to increase to take into account inflationary pressures.

Find out more about research degree funding

How to apply

If you can't find an advertised project that fits your interests and experience, you can submit a research proposal to the Department of Aeronautical and Automotive Engineering to find a supervisor who will work with you on your project. You can view our list of academic staff on our School website or you can email us for guidance.

Your research proposal should include the aims of your study, a brief literature review, an outline of the proposed research methods, and your preferred member of staff to supervise the project. Further information on preparing your proposal can be found here.

You are strongly recommended to contact us before applying to discuss your topic, availability and funding.

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