The Hebden Bridge-born singer beat acts such as David Bowie, Jungle and Elbow to pick up the gong during the event at Earls Court in London.
Collecting his trophy from Sir Tom Jones, the 23-year-old said he wanted to say “a massive thank you to everyone who has bought a record, bought a ticket, streamed on YouTube, done anything, listened to my music”.
He went on: “I always thought my career would stop at one album, so knowing my career is longer than one album is the highlight (of the year).”
Pharrell Williams was named international artist of the year, beating an eclectic list of nominees including figures such as Prince, Taylor Swift and Dolly Parton.
The ceremony also recognised a new generation of performers with the BBC Introducing award for an up-and-coming act going to Catfish And The Bottlemen, who also performed their track Kathleen.The event, designed to be a celebration of the best music of the past year, opened with Coldplay performing hit A Sky Full Of Stars.