Subdivision curves are defined as the limit of a recursive application of a subdivision rule to an initial set of control points. This intrinsically provides a hierarchical set of control polygons that can be used to provide surface control at varying levels of fidelity. This work presents a shape parameterisation method based on this principle and investigates its application to aerodynamic optimisation. The subdivision curves are used to construct a multi-level aerofoil parameterisation that allows an optimisation to be initialised with a small number of design variables, and then be periodically increased in resolution throughout. This brings the benefits of a low fidelity optimisation (high convergence rate, increased robustness, low cost finite-difference gradients) while still allowing the final results to be from a high-dimensional design space. In this work the multi-level subdivision parameterisation is tested on a variety of optimisation problems and compared to a control group of single-level subdivision schemes. For all the optimisation cases the multi-level schemes provided robust and reliable results in contrast to the single-level methods that often experienced difficulties with large numbers of design variables. As a result of this the multi-level methods exploited the high-dimensional design spaces better and consequently produced better overall results.