This paper describes how the design of a scientific satellite can be used to provide both a stimulating and effective subject for a physics based group study. The group study divides the satellite into distinct subsystems and small teams of two or three students carry out the detailed design of each subsystem. The aim is to produce a complete satellite system design along with the choice of launch vehicle, orbit and communications system so that all the mission requirements can be met. An important feature of the group study is that it is a student led activity with staff acting as mentors. The development of key skills and important learning outcomes from the group study is discussed along with the method for assessment, structuring and resourcing the study.