Module code: ENGM053

Module provider

Civil and Environmental Engineering

Module Leader

SAGASETA J Dr (Civl Env Eng)

Number of Credits


ECT Credits



FHEQ Level 7

JACs code


Module cap (Maximum number of students)


Module Availability

Semester 1

Overall student workload

Independent Study Hours: 150

Lecture Hours: 36

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Examination 2 HOUR EXAM 75%
Coursework COURSEWORK 25%

Alternative Assessment


Prerequisites / Co-requisites

Knowledge of structural mechanics to FHEQ Level 6

Module overview

The Finite Element Method (FEM) is the most commonly used tool in practice for structural design and analysis of bridges, buildings and other types of structures. In order to carry out a successful FE analysis, a basic knowledge of the theory behind the FEM is required as well as an understanding of the applications to different types of structural elements & analyses. This module covers both of these two aspects which are essential for learning how to perform a FE analysis.

Module aims

provide an appreciation of the theory behind the finite element method and the applications of this method in structural engineering.

provide the ability to use commercial finite element program to model structures using different types of elements

provide an overview of the different types of finite element analysis (static, linear, non-linear and dynamic) generally used in practice.

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
Demonstrate the theory behind the finite element method (FEM) and its applications in design/analysis of structural engineering solutions KC
Model simple and complex structures using different types of finite elements) CP
Carry out checks in the FE calculations to verify the validity of the results KPT
synthesis of data T
Technical report writing T
Reviewing, assessing and critical thinking T

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Module content

Stiffness method, numerical tools used in the finite element method (interpolation, shape functions, numerical integration, co-ordinate transformation), virtual work, FEM matrix framework
Finite element families (iso-parametric elements, non-conforming elements) & their tests: truss & frame elements, plates & shell elements, plane stress elements, solid 3D brick elements
General considerations in FE modelling: loading, boundary conditions, symmetry, model connections, linear elastic analysis, introduction to non-linear static analysis (geometry and material non-linearities), introduction to dynamic FE analysis and extreme loading.


Methods of Teaching / Learning

30 hrs lectures, 10 hrs tutorials/question classes/self assessment questions, 2 hrs practical work, 37 hrs assignment work, 2 hrs examination and 69 hrs independent learning. Total student learning time 150 hrs


Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of theory and fundamentals behind the finite element method and its applications in structural engineering (LO 1) through a 2 hour unseen examination. LO’s 2 and 3 are assessed through the design/analysis coursework.

Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:

Unseen written examination (2 hours, 75%) – [LO assessed 1]
Coursework assignments (25%) – [LOs assessed 2 and 3]

– Two assignments

a)    Stiffness method and FE modelling of trusses (10%) – [LOs assessed 2 and 3]; estimated working hours 15

b)    Plane stress problems and FE modelling (15%) – [LOs assessed 2 and 3];

Estimated working hours 22

Formative assessment and feedback is through a range of self assessment exercises (named “home exercises”) provided on SurreyLearn. The final solution to these exercises will be given so that the student can check their answers. Worked examples will also be given. Both type of exercises will provide automatic feedback where necessary. Feedback is also given on SurreyLearn in forum discussions and through comments on coursework submissions.

Reading list


Please note that the information detailed within this record is accurate at the time of publishing and may be subject to change. This record contains information for the most up to date version of the programme / module for the 2017/8 academic year.