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BSc (Hons) Air Transport with Commercial Pilot Training

TARIFF: 104 - 128
  • Study Mode: Full time
  • Location: High Wycombe
  • Duration: Three Years
  • Start Date: September 2022
As one of the few degree programmes that allows you to gain a Frozen ATPL as well as a university degree, our BSc (Hons) Air Transport with Commercial Pilot Training can help you achieve your dream of becoming a commercial pilot.
With over 20 years’ experience, we have a strong track-record of helping students become confident commercial pilots, with many of our alumni now flying for some of the best airlines across the world.


Top 25 University for Teaching Quality Complete University Guide 2021
95% of our graduates in work or study after 15 months of graduation, HESA 2021
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Combined with location, reputation, student offering and the ‘big family feel’: BNU was my first choice. BNU Aviation has a 20-year track record of producing well qualified industry professionals, who are working and flying for the best airlines, globally.
Darren Palmer Airbus A350 Senior First Officer for Cathay Pacific Airways
A head shot of Darren Palmer, smiling at the camera in front of an airplane wing
This course will give me an advantage in securing a position as a commercial pilot. In a constantly changing industry, awareness of the industry is key and the course gives us that knowledge.
Edgar Woodhead
Head and shoulders image of Edgar, an aviation student smiling student quote
Two students standing next to each other talking
Open Days

We understand that when it comes to deciding where you’d like to study, there are a lot of things to consider. Come along to our Open Day and discover why BNU could be the place for you. You can find out more about your course, meet the course team, and get all your questions answered.

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Application Guide

For everything you need to know about applying, check out our Application Guide. You can find useful information for each stage of your application journey – from before you even apply to what to do if you receive an offer, and everything in between.   

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Students' Union

At BNU, we believe in putting our students first. That’s why we’re the only university in the UK to offer free access to such a diverse and exciting range of activities through our SU – all to enrich your university experience. 


Why study this subject?

The aviation industry is globally important and a career in aviation promises unique opportunities.

Boeing predicts that Europe will need another 147,000 commercial pilots by 2039 (Boeing Pilot and Technician Outlook 2020).

Air Transport student

Why study at Buckinghamshire New University?

With our BSc (Hons) in Air Transport with Commercial Pilot, we can help you achieve a degree and a ‘frozen’ Commercial Air Transport Pilot Licence (ATPL), in just three years.

You can get all the benefits of a university degree while training for your Commercial Pilot’s Licence with Instrument Rating. After you graduate, and have completed all remaining elements of your ATPL, you’ll be able to apply for your first role.

An ATPL is the qualification that will allow you to act as the Pilot in Command (PIC), or captain, of a large transport aircraft. The licence is referred to as ‘frozen’ until all the flight experience requirements have been met.

We have a strong focus on employability, and our training partners and professional connections give you the chance to immerse yourself in the industry.

You’ll usually be flying in Cessna, Piper or Diamond aircraft within the first few weeks of your studies. You’ll also get the chance to meet current first officers and captains, from airlines like British Airways and EasyJet, and learn from their experiences. You’ll also benefit from the experience of our specialist staff.

We’re located close to Heathrow and other major UK airports which - along with their suppliers - offer our students seasonal jobs and work placements.


BNU aviation students enjoy free membership of the Royal Aeronautical Society, the UK professional association dedicated to the aerospace and aviation industry. As a member, you will be able to participate in a number of exciting industry events, including conferences, guest talks, student competitions, and networking opportunities.

You can also join the highly active Students’ Union Aviation Society. You’ll get to meet even more people who are passionate about the industry and guest speakers. The Society organises trips to places of interest, events and conferences to help you stand out when you graduate.

If you are interested in the military world, UK students will be eligible to apply for a place in our regional University Air Squadron, part of the Royal Air Force, and offering unique access to military flying and adventurous training.

Did you know you could also benefit from free Air League memberships that enables you to apply for flying, gliding engineering and commercial, aviation scholarships reducing the amount of their PPL cost or ATPL costs!

Some of our aviation students have produced an aviation-specific blog. Why not check it out! (Please note that the views expressed within this blog are the views and opinions of our aviation students and not those of the University.) Or why not read our blogs or watch vlogs by our student bloggers.

Check out our Approved Training Organisations Factsheet for contact details and approximate costs.

Find out more
BNU has been running its aviation courses for over 20 years now, so they definitely have strong connections within the industry and know exactly how to tailor the course to suit what aviation organisations are looking for in their employees.
Fareeha Ahmed
Fareeha Ahmed
Top 5 tips

Before making an application, we recommend you consider the following:

  1. There are additional costs involved with this course, in addition to the University’s tuition fees. The University does not offer any loans as we are not a financial institution. Students often get funding from Private bank loans as well as student finance to pay for the tuition fees. Seek professional financial help to understand what it means for you.
  2. Talk to, and visit, the flight schools you are considering for most up-to-date pricing. We have included approximate costs for guidance on our approved training organisation factsheet.
  3. Make sure you understand the differences between a UK CAA Licence and an EASA Licence; your chosen flight school will be able to offer some guidance on this. You can find the contact details for our approved training organisations on our factsheet.
  4. Understand the UK CAA/EASA Class 1 (Commercial Pilots) or Class 2 (Private Pilots) medical requirements, and check that you can successfully hold such licenses, before committing to the flight training.
  5. Come along to an open day, talk to our current students and staff, and get all your questions answered.

air transport 1
Group of aviation students in uniform

What facilities can I use?

We’re one of the very few UK universities to have an FNPT II Flight Simulator. As a student pilot you’ll have exclusive access and will be able to gain vital experience, without leaving the ground.

Alongside this, our other specialised simulation facilities allow you to experience real-life airport scenarios, developing your abilities in airfield planning and operations, and crisis and emergency management.

What will I study?

By studying this degree, you’ll graduate with more than just an aviation degree – you’ll have what you need to succeed in this dynamic sector.

Throughout this programme you’ll study key modules in aviation law, meteorology and instruments alongside broader subjects such as global aviation and airport operations. You’ll take basic theoretical pilot training, while a range of practical and advanced theoretical training modules will be available through our Approved Training Organisation (ATOs).

We look at trends in the industry to make sure your knowledge is up-to-date and regularly update our courses to reflect the most recent changes within the air transport industry and globally.

Read Fareeha’s blog, an Air Transport with Commercial Pilot Training graduate, explaining the course breakdown.

How will I be taught and assessed?

Buckinghamshire New University has over 20 years’ experience in running this course and you will be taught by professional commercial pilots with many years’ worth of experience.

You will also benefit from the team’s connections and valuable networking opportunities. Industry-leading professionals often deliver talks and presentations, providing valuable insight into the profession.

Flying and Theory
Year one



You will begin your Private Pilot Licence training. This will consist of a minimum of 45 hours flight training and also study for the PPL ground exams.

Ground exams common subjects

  • 010 Air Law - Aeroplane and Helicopter
  • 040 Human Performance - Aeroplane and Helicopter
  • 050 Meteorology - Aeroplane and Helicopter
  • 060 Navigation - Aeroplane and Helicopter
  • 090 Communications - Aeroplane and Helicopter
  • Exams specific to aircraft category (ie. they are different for helicopter or aeroplane PPL)
  • 020 Aircraft General Knowledge - Aeroplane OR Helicopter
  • 030 Flight Performance and Planning - Aeroplane OR Helicopter
  • 070 Operational Procedures - Aeroplane OR Helicopter
  • 081 Principles of Flight - Aeroplane only
  • 082 Principles of Flight - Helicopter only

These exams are taken through the CAA e-exam system. You will need to purchase a set of AFE PPL Theory books or similar. We use AFE PPL for our Theory.

You will need several additional personal items, which may include kneeboard, headset, facemask and some schools require uniform to be worn.


During this semester, you will be moving forward more quickly with your flight training. The PPL is just the beginning and, once you have completed this licence, you should consider further ratings. Some students may begin their PPL flying in Semester 2.


During the summer you can accelerate your training by completing the hours building required to undertake further ratings. You may wish to complete your Night Rating. Multi-Engine Rating and/or IR(R) during this time.  Some of our students will complete hours building abroad, in California, France, Cyprus, Florida, Poland etc.

Year two for home students/year three for international students


September to March/June

You will begin this year with an ATPL theory course. Courses last between six and nine months and can be taken full-time at a school or by distance learning with on-site top-up.

Information on where you can sit the exams are provided on the CAA website.

There are 13 exams, which are:

  • 010 Air Law
  • 021 Aircraft General Knowledge – Airframe and Systems, Electrics, Power Plant and Emergency Equipment
  • 022 Instrumentation
  • 031 Mass & Balance
  • 032 Performance – Aeroplanes
  • 033 Flight Planning and Monitoring
  • 040 Human Performance and Limitations
  • 050 Meteorology
  • 061 General Navigation
  • 062 Radio Navigation
  • 070 Operational Procedures
  • 081 Principles of Flight – Aeroplanes
  • 090 Communications

And for Helicopter ATPL:

  • 034 Performance (Helicopter)
  • 040 Human Performance and Limitations
  • 082 Principles of Flight (Helicopter)

It is an intensive course, with a lot of material that will be new to you. It builds on the PPL theory and introduces many new topics. We recommend to all of our students that you ‘ring-fence’ this time as you will become completely absorbed by the studying during this period.

Some of our students do continue flying during this period and we recommend building your hours at weekends – it can be a fun way to relax after the stresses of the ATPL ground school week!

ATPL courses are usually split into 3 modules, with exams at the end of each module. Resits can be taken as needed.

We recommend planning for additional flying straight after your ATPL theory course. From the time our ATPL course ends, you will be able to complete further hours, multi-engine rating, IR, CPL, depending on where you are at with your training. We do not expect you to complete all of these in one summer!

Many ATPL theory courses start in the autumn and continue through to the summer. The exams must be completed in order for you to progress. Do allow time for exams and resits.

ATPL Ground School Options

In this year students will take up a place on an ATPL theory course. The course is either full-time attendance, or distance learning, often with some attendance weeks required. The courses last between 6- and 9-months full time and there are 13 exams to complete. You will have a personal tutor who will monitor your progress and work with you to deal with any issues at your flight school.

Please note that you cannot commence your ATPL theory course until your PPL is complete.

We have a number of schools who we are working with, however if you have another school you prefer, please talk to the Course Leader about this. Schools may change from time to time.

Year three for home students/year two for international students


Choice of schools for hours building/additional ratings

In this year, students will choose which flight school to complete their hours building and/or additional ratings at. You will have a personal tutor and you will also have a Lecturer who will monitor your progress and work with you to deal with any issues at your flight school and give guidance on getting your licence.

All modules / flight training must be successfully passed before your degree may be issued.

Lecturers go above and beyond in providing students with various learning materials for beyond the syllabus. They offer plenty of advice which is so important to becoming the best candidates for interviews and jobs for life beyond BNU.
Rebecca Norman
Rebecca Norman
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Placements Plus

BNU is a Placements Plus university. So, whatever degree you do, you can be sure there’ll be plenty of industry-relevant opportunities on offer, to help you get into your chosen field.

We’ll also prepare you for work beforehand, with special skills for work training, further boosting your CV, and building skills employers will value. In recognition of the value we place on these skills we have incorporated this experience into your study time.

Placements Plus is all about helping you get some valuable experience under your belt while you’re a student, to increase your choices later, and help you get the graduate-level job you want.


Useful Documents

BSc (Hons) Air Transport with Commercial Pilot Training Programme Specification

What are the course entry requirements?

A typical offer will require a UCAS tariff score of: 104 - 128

You also need at least two A-levels and a GCSE Maths and English at grade C/4. Additionally some knowledge of science subjects would be an advantage.

Mature students with non-standard qualifications will be considered on an individual basis.

All students will require at a minimum a Class II Medical in order to undertake their PPL solo, those students wishing to undertake Commercial training will need to gain a Class I Medical prior to enrolling with their selected Approved Training Organisation (ATO).  Further information on the requirements of Class I and II Medicals, including approved AME's, can be found on the CAA website.

Every application is considered on an individual basis.

For further details of our international English entry requirements, please visit our international pages.

This provides a guide of the modules that make up your course. Please refer to the Programme Specification at the bottom of the Course Details tab for the full breakdown of core and optional modules, as well as the credits needed to complete your degree. You can find more information about how your course is structured on our Academic Advice section.

Year 1 Modules

Professional Skills and Development

Air Transport - Security and Safety

Airline Management

Airport Operations

Management, Leadership and Change

Private Pilot Licence (PPL) Practical Training

Private Pilot Licence (PPL) Theory

Structure of the Air Transport Industry

Airline Crisis and Continuity Management

Year 2 Modules

Air Law

Aircraft General Knowledge

Aircraft Performance and Planning 

Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL) (optional)


General Navigation

Human Performance and Limitations



Operational Procedures

Principles of Flight: Aeroplanes

Radio Navigation

Year 3 Modules

Instrument Rating (IR) (optional)

Multi-Crew Co-operation (optional)

Aviation Finance and Economics

Aviation in the Global Context

Business and Enterprise (optional)

Human Factors as a Fundamental Concept in Aviation Safety

Research Project (optional)

Strategic Management

Sustainability Management

What are the tuition fees

UK students receiving student loan via Student Finance, Academic Year 2021-2022
  • Year 1: £9,250
  • Year 2: £9,250 (bursary of £7,250)
  • Year 3: £9,250
UK students receiving student loan via Student Finance, Academic Year 2022-2023
  • Year 1: £9,250
  • Year 2: £9,250 (bursary of £7,250)
  • Year 3: £9,250
International, Academic Year 2021-2022
  • Year 1: £13,750
  • Year 2: £13,750
  • Year 3: £2,000
International, Academic Year 2022-2023
  • Year 1: £14,250
  • Year 2: £14,250
  • Year 3: £2,000
Tuition fees breakdown

Pilot bursary information


What are the additional costs?

In addition to the tuition fees, there are additional costs to consider for this programme. We have provided approximate costs to give you some guidance on this, but recommend you check with your chosen flight school for the most up-to-date information on pricing and other related matters.

The Private Pilot Licence is taken in the first year of the degree, in addition to other academic modules.

The PPL Theory element of the training is taken as an academic module, and is included within the degree fees, but the flying element plus equipment, CAA fees, etc. are extra.

We recommend to budget for a total cost of around £15,000-£17,000 additional fees in Year 1 for this. The fee will vary depending on school chosen, and you will see cheaper prices advertised, but this is a realistic figure, and includes things like:

  • Medical
  • extra hours (few students complete in 45 hours)
  • landing fees
  • headset
  • books
  • equipment
  • flight test aircraft hire
  • CAA flight test
  • RT
  • ground exam fees.

Please check with your chosen flight school for the most up-to-date information on pricing and other related matters.

To complete the Fixed Wing Commercial Licence with Instrument Rating, if that is the aim, will cost in the region of £50,000 or more. You can speak to various flying schools in the UK directly to get the most up-to-date costings.

International Students

As an International student you take the Air Transport with Commercial Pilot degree in a slightly different order — in effect Year 1 is the same, but Years 2 and 3 are swapped.

To complete the Commercial Licence with Instrument Rating, if that is the aim, will cost in the region of £50,000 or more. This can often be completed at the same school as your ATPL Theory, but it is not a requirement for the degree, so you are free to choose (subject to visa requirements).

Please visit an open day for more information. You could benefit from financial support through a bursary or scholarship during your time as a student. For more details visit our financial support, bursaries and scholarships section.

Questions about fees?

Contact our Enquiries Team:

0330 123 2023

What are my career prospects? 

Throughout your time with us we’ll support you on the route to your chosen career. We’ll help you to develop crucial skills, encouraging you to become enterprising, employable and good leaders. We also help you find employment after graduation. Have a look at our Careers and Employability pages to find out more.

On successful completion of this programme, you could end up working for one of the big airlines and fly across the world. Boeing forecasts that between 2016 and 2035, Europe's commercial aviation industry will require approximately 104,000 new commercial airline pilots*, so your skills will be in demand. (*Boeing Forecasts)

When you have finished this course, and completed all the flight-training modules, you’ll be the proud owner of a Commercial Pilot Licence with instrument rating and a frozen ATPL. This will enable you to apply for First Officer positions with airlines.

When you have completed all remaining elements of your ATPL, you’ll be able to apply for your first role. You could start your type rating by November of your graduation year depending on the airline and be flying commercially by February.

Your ATPL will remain frozen until you’ve accumulated 1,500 hours when you’ll then be able to apply for promotion to Senior First Officer.

Our graduates have gone on to become First Officers with a range of airlines including British Airways, Ryanair, easyJet, Cathay Pacific and Jet 2.

As you’ll also have developed a wider understanding of the airline business, you can also choose to pursue a variety of different careers within the aviation industry.

If you’re interested in undertaking further study or specialising in a certain field, you can choose to study one of our renowned postgraduate programmes, such as our MSc Aviation Security, MSc International Aviation Regulation and Law, MSc Aviation Operations and Management, MSc International Aviation Regulation Law or MSc Aviation Organisational Resilience.

My degree not only enabled me to learn to fly, but to also gain an insight into so many factions and interactions within the aviation industry, that I put into practice every time I go flying.
Darren Palmer Airbus A350 Senior First Officer for Cathay Pacific Airways
A head shot of Darren Palmer, smiling at the camera in front of an airplane wing

Course leader

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Tim Gibson FRAeS
  • Associate Lecturer
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Naveed Kapadia
  • Senior Lecturer
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Francesco Ragni
  • Senior Lecturer
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Molly-Jane Dane
  • Graduate Teaching Associate
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George Georgiou
  • Lecturer
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Dr Maurice Gledhill
  • Associate Professor Education
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Captain Stuart Green
  • Associate Lecturer
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Sarah Barry
  • Senior Lecturer
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Dauda Hamzat
  • Senior Lecturer
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