Drone Technology or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs)

Drone Technology and Applications MSc

Course fees (2017/18 entry)

Option / fee Value
Home full time annual tuition fee: £6,700
Home cost per credit: £37.20
International full time annual tuition fee: £12,660

More about course fees »

Course type



Study mode

Full Time & Part Time

About your course

Completing this Masters degree at Liverpool John Moores University will give you the knowledge and practical skills to become a specialist in Unmanned Aerial Vehicles or UAVs.

  • Complete this masters degree in one year full time, two years part time
  • Highly practical Masters degree 
  • Secure understanding of legal and regulatory frameworks
  • Gain the expertise to exploit this exciting new technology in a wide range of industries in the UK, Europe and around the world
  • Curriculum informed by ongoing research and consultancy in drone technology 
  • Build and test fly your own multi-rotor drone

On the course you learn everything you need to mount leading-edge professional UAV missions

You will design, build and learn to fly your own multi-rotor drone under the direction of our experienced qualified instructors.

Introduction to the School

The Drone Technology and Applications MSc is founded upon and continues to be informed by ongoing research at the University.

All of the staff who designed the curriculum and deliver the programme are research active and 90% of their research was rated as either 'internationally excellent' or of 'international standard' in REF2014.

Areas of research activity include:

  • New optical stereo photogrammetry techniques for precision 3D measurement from UAVs
  • Development of LIDAR techniques in UAV operations
  • Strategies for co-operative UAV swarms to aid rapid 3D measurement
  • Advanced manipulations of GNSS (GPS) systems applied the UAVs
  • Applications of UAVs in cultural heritage and archaeological projects
  • Drone for rapid autonomous inspection in the utility industries

Staff undertake joint research projects with a number of world-leading companies in the drone industry, including VulcanUAVs in the UK and Pix4D in Switzerland. Lecturers are also research co-ordinators and lead partners in the prestigious EC-funded Horizon2020 project, DigiArt, which seeks to 3D capture world heritage sites in Belgium and Greece in order to create ‘Virtual Reality Worlds’ and realise the radical new concept of the ‘Internet of Historical Things’.

Thanks to this wide ranging and high quality research portfolio, you can be confident that the MSc programme is completely up-to-date and represents the latest thinking in drone technology, applications and operations.

In addition, your tutors' day-to-day experience of operating UAVs to solve practical industrial problems mean that the course is founded on genuine ‘hands-on’ experience. Plus their extensive international contacts in academia and industry will help to open up exciting and challenging project opportunities during your studies.

Why study this course at LJMU?

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles or UAVs are set to be one of the most disruptive technologies of the 21st century. This specialist Masters programme is your route to being ‘in on the ground floor’ of this technological revolution.

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles or UAVs will change our lives in so many ways - how we shop, how we find out about the place we are in, how we stay safe, and how we discover and explore our world in radical new ways.

Europe is gearing up to be the world leader in this technology and governments across the EU are putting in place empowering new legislation to help this new industry to grow. Organisations in a wide range of sectors – from utilities, retail and security to media, surveying and agriculture - are keen to exploit this new technology. This means demand for qualified experts in this field are growing day by day.

This programme is designed and delivered by active research UAV operators at LJMU who are performing drone operations across the UK, Africa and Asia. This ensures that the programme is up-to-date, based on state-of-the-art technical knowledge and informed by current operational experience.

Programme outline and structure

This taught masters degree will give you the practical, theoretical and regulatory knowledge to lead and undertake all aspects of the implementation and operation of UAV systems within a commercial enterprise in a safe, efficient and legal manner.

You will also secure essential practical skills in constructing, flying and operating drone systems. You will build your own, professional standard, multi-rotor drone system; test fly this system and then use it for practical assignments during the programme, including undertaking a research dissertation project. At the end of the course you can take your drone system with you and use as part of your career.

In today’s world, to be commercially successful in drone applications, you must be safe and operating totally with the aviation law. That’s why the programme includes a specialist module on UAV Operations and the Law. Not only will you know the legal and regulatory framework, more importantly you will learn how to interpret it so that you can design complex and challenging UAV operations within the current legal and regulatory framework.

What you will study on this degree

Please see guidance below on core and option modules for further information on what you will study.

Level 7
  • UAV Technology and Operations: This will teach you the basics of the technology at systems level. As part of this module you will learn to fly UAVs under experienced qualified instructors, first on simulators and then out in the field.
  • Drone Construction: You build your own multi-rotor drone, complete with flight controller, GPS systems and radio control system. Under the guidance of the teaching team, you will test and then fly your drone in a series of increasingly demanding exercises.
  • Research Methods: In order to obtain your Masters degree you will have to undertake an individual research project and write it up as a dissertation. In this module you will learn the research, presentation and critical appraisal skills you will need to successfully complete your project.

  • Advanced UAV Technology and Operations: Practical flying and operating experience, now in more advanced scenarios, is an important element of this module with further simulator exercises and another 5 full-day flying sessions.
  • UAV Operations and the Law: Its important to know the legal and regulatory framework within which UAVs operate, to become qualified for commercial UAV use its essential. Here you will learn about the law, the guidelines and get to practice your understanding with 'moot' exercises – debating complex operational scenarios.
  • Optical Measurement and Sensing: Of all the data gathering devices carried by UAV’s the overwhelming majority are optical and to get the best results you will need to understand this technology. Its not just video cameras; you need to fully understand technologies including stereo photogrammetry, LIDAR, structured light and shape from motion systems if you are to be effective in data gathering from drones.
  • Dissertation Project: On successful completion of the taught part of the programme you will complete an individual research or advanced practice project. Project topics can be self-generated, or drawn from a range of real-world applications originating from outside of the university among the research team’s industrial contacts.

Further guidance on modules

The information listed in the section entitled ‘What you will study’ is an overview of the academic content of the programme that will take the form of either core or option modules. Modules are designated as core or option in accordance with professional body requirements and internal Academic Framework review, so may be subject to change. Students will be required to undertake modules that the University designates as core and will have a choice of designated option modules. Additionally, option modules may be offered subject to meeting minimum student numbers.

Academic Framework reviews are conducted by LJMU from time to time to ensure that academic standards continue to be maintained. A review is currently in progress and will be operational for the academic year 2016/2017. Final details of this programme’s designated core and option modules will be made available on LJMU’s website as soon as possible and prior to formal enrolment for the academic year 2016/2017.

Please email courses@ljmu.ac.uk if you require further guidance or clarification.

How will I be assessed?

As this is a very practical subject, most of the assessment is coursework based and of a practical nature. You will be assessed using a variety of methods, including:

  • themed essays
  • practical tasks
  • flying tests
  • reports
  • presentations
  • on-line blogs
  • mission plan scenarios

Entry requirements (Home)

The standard entry requirements are:

  • At least a lower second honours degree, or equivalent, in either an Engineering discipline, Physics, Mathematics or Computer Science
  • Applicants will be considered who hold at least a lower second honours degree, or equivalent, in another discipline which contains significant numerical and analytical content. Holders of such degrees might like to make informal contact with the programme team prior to application
  • We will also consider applications from individuals who may not hold any of the above qualifications but have significant relevant experience in the field or a related area. Anyone considering an application on such as basis should contact the programme team in the first instance for an informal discussion and advice

Entry requirements (International)

Applicants from non-English speaking countries outside of the EU must possess a current IELTS qualification at least at 6.0. If you have completed a programme at another UK university within the last 2 years you are exempt from this requirement. .

If you have applied to study a full-time taught Masters, MRes, MPhil or PhD at LJMU, you should check if you require an Academic Technology Approval Scheme or ATAS certificate. It can take four to six weeks to receive an ATAS certificate, so please make sure you apply as early as possible. You can find out more on the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) website. Alternatively, contact LJMU’s International Admissions Team for guidance. Please note: international students entering on a Tier 4 visa cannot study part time. Students entering the UK on alternate types of visa may be in a position to study part time. Please contact LJMU’s International Admissions Team for further details before making your application.  In order to obtain a visa you will also need to show evidence that the money required to cover your tuition fees and living expenses has been in your bank account for at least 28 days prior to submitting your visa application. So please make sure that your finances are in place before applying. For more details, go to our international website

For advice on any aspect of the application process, please contact LJMU’s International Admissions Team.


Will I be interviewed?



6.0 (Minimum of 5.5 in each component)

Is RPL accepted on this programme?


Please Note: All international qualifications are subject to a qualification equivalency check via NARIC.

Financial support

Tuition fees

All full and part-time students enrolled on postgraduate taught programmes at LJMU are liable to pay an annual tuition fee. You can opt to pay your tuition fees in full at the start of each academic year or pay by instalments. If you need advice about how you will pay your tuition fees, please email LJMU’s Student Funding Team as soon as possible.

Sources of funding


Postgraduate loans

Postgraduate Masters loans are available for the 2017/18 academic year. The new loans, of up to £10,000, are available for students attending eligible full and part-time Masters courses, in line with the existing qualification framework for England. Administered by the Student Loan Company, the loans will be available to those under 60 at the start of their course.

Loan repayments will begin the April after course completion, with the first cohort of borrowers commencing repayments in April 2019. Repayments will be made at a rate of 6% of income above an earning threshold of £21,000. This threshold will be frozen until 2021. For details of loan terms, conditions and eligibility, go to: ljmu.ac.uk/postgraduate-funding 

LJMU Alumni Award

Final year undergraduates and alumni of the University are eligible to apply for a 20% reduction in their postgraduate tuition fees if they choose to progress onto a higher degree programme at LJMU. Both Home and international LJMU students and alumni can apply for this award (subject to eligibility criteria*). 

Postgraduate International Scholarships

LJMU offers scholarships for international applicants accepted onto taught masters programmes (excluding distance learning programmes) and research degrees. Current LJMU international students and alumni interested in pursuing postgraduate study and research at the University are eligible to apply for these scholarships along with new applicants. 

English for Postgraduate Studies Bursary

A Bursary is also available for international students who need to improve their IELTS score prior to enrolling on their postgraduate course or research programme at the University. This course is run by LJMU’s International Study Centre.

Earn While You Learn

Working while you study means you may be able to pay for your course without taking out any further loans or at least reducing the amount you need to borrow. Working while you study also gives you the skills valued by employers, such as managing your workload and prioritising your time.

LJMU’s Vacancy website can help you find graduate vacancies, sandwich/industrial placements, internships / summer work, part-time jobs, volunteering opportunities and work-based learning placements. Over 1,000 local and regional employers regularly list opportunities on the website.

Professional and Career Development Loans (PCDL)

Many students fund their postgraduate studies via Professional and Career Development Loans. This is a bank loan which you will have to pay back once you’ve completed the course. However, while you are studying any interest on the loan will be paid for you by the Skills Funding Agency. PCDLs worth between £300 and £10,000 are available for eligible postgraduates to fund up to two years of study (three if the course includes work experience). The loan is split into course fees and living costs. 

Employer sponsorship

Some organisations and companies fund the cost of postgraduate studies for their employees as they recognise the value of having well qualified staff. Check out our courses and see if there are any on offer that could enhance your current career. Remember, employer support doesn’t always have to be financial; it can take other forms too, such as flexible working arrangements, day release and time in lieu of study.

Support for disabled students

Disabled Students’ Allowances or DSAs are designed to help meet the extra course costs students can face as a direct result of a disability, on-going health condition, mental health condition or specific learning difficulty. DSAs don’t have to be paid back and the type of support you receive will be determined by your specific needs not your household income. Please contact LJMU’s Disability team for further advice: 0151 231 3164/3165.

Council tax exemption

All full-time postgraduate students studying courses lasting one year or more are eligible for a council tax exemption certificate.

Graduate employment

This programme is designed to produce individuals who will lead the rapidly expanding workforce needed in UAV applications and as a highly skilled, very knowledgeable specialist you will be in great demand around the world.

Did you know that there are as many commercial drones in Europe as there are in the rest of the world put together? The European Union have just published the Riga Declaration, clearing the way to make Europe a world leader in drone technology and operations. Here in the UK, the Civil Aviation Authority have published new routes to qualifying as a commercial drone operator. All of this means that commercial drone operations will be one of the fastest growing industries of the 21st century, and much of that growth will be here in Europe.

Current estimates for growth in the commercial drone market are at anywhere from 300 to 800% per annum. The Washington Post estimated that in the USA alone there would be 70,000 new jobs in the drone industry in the next ten years and that by 2020 that figure would be at 100,000 new jobs per annum.

The range of employment opportunities in the commercial drone market is huge, including: 

  • consultancy
  • utility companies
  • large company adoption
  • agriculture
  • retail
  • security
  • conservation
  • cultural heritage
  • media

If you don’t see yourself working in the UAV industry, completing this masters degree will give you major knowledge and skills in demand across the job market, including knowledge in specialist electronics, computing and mechanical systems.

In addition, drone operations teaches you:

  • team work
  • team leadership
  • communication
  • professional standard presentation skills
  • how to decision make under pressure
  • how to harness resources to a project
  • how to plan

International Study

International applicants are required to demonstrate equivalent qualifications to the standard requirements for entry when applying for courses at LJMU.

Students must also demonstrate a proficiency in communicating through English, for example via an IELTS tests or equivalent.

Please note: UK visa restrictions mean that international students are only permitted to study on a full-time basis.

Please contact LJMU’s International Team by visiting www.ljmu.ac.uk/international for more information and advice.


LJMU has launched a range of generous international scholarships for students enrolling at the University.

These prestigious scholarships take the form of tuition fee waivers and are available for outstanding international students applying for taught postgraduate programmes and research degrees.

You will need to complete an additional application form in order to be considered for these scholarships. Full eligibility criteria and the online application form are available here: www.ljmu.ac.uk/international

Applications for these scholarships are welcomed from:

  • new international applicants
  • current LJMU international students hoping to progress onto postgraduate study at the University
  • LJMU international alumni

English for Postgraduate courses bursary

A bursary will be available for students who must complete the six week English for Postgraduate Studies course to improve their IELTS score by 0.5 prior to enrolling on their postgraduate taught or research degree at LJMU.

This bursary take the form of a tuition fee waiver, which will be deducted from your tuition fee when you enrol on your degree programme. You do not need to complete the online scholarship form in order to receive this bursary. Please note: If you are awarded this bursary you are not eligible to apply for an international scholarship.

The University may make changes to a programme of study or module where such changes are deemed to be beneficial to students, are minor in nature and unlikely to impact negatively upon students or become necessary due to circumstances beyond the control of the University.
Further guidance on programme changes

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