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2023/24 Taught Postgraduate Module Catalogue

MECH5680M Advanced Finite Element Analysis

15 creditsClass Size: 120

Module manager: Dr Zeike Taylor

Taught: Semester 1 (Sep to Jan) View Timetable

Year running 2023/24

Pre-requisite qualifications

Background in Solid Mechanics and Finite Element Analysis, including concepts of strain tensor and stress tensor, matrix algebra, conservation equations and principle of minimum potential energy, experience in using a Finite Element software for structural analysis

This module is not approved as an Elective

Module summary

This module provides the advanced theoretical and practical knowledge to allow a student to competently perform complex Finite Element Methods (FEM) in structural mechanics using commercial software packages used in industry.Emphasis is given on understanding underlying hypothesis and limitations of practical solution methods.


This module aims at developing understanding of principles underlying Finite Element Methods (FEM) for structural analysis with sources of non-linearity as well as key practical solution methods in Abaqus.
By the end of the module, students should:
- have an understanding of the limitations of linear FEM for structural analysis
- be able to compute and compare non-linear measures of strain and stress, and identify their energy conjugates
- understand the principle of virtual work used to derive FEM theory in large deformations
- be able to describe the algorithms used to solve computational plasticity and other material non-linearity
- be able to identify and choose a contact algorithm best suited for a range of contact problems
- be familiar with advanced uses of FE packages, including using scripting capabilities to automate tasks
- be able to choose specific element technology required for solving problems with large deformation, incompressibility or locking
- appreciate the importance of verification and validation in practical cases
- gain understanding of range of applicability in industry.

Learning outcomes
On completion of this module, the student will be able to:
By the end of the module, students will:
1. have the ability to integrate their knowledge and understanding of FE methods to solve a substantial range of engineering problems
2. be able to critically analyse FE problems with different sources of non-linearity
3. be able to extract and evaluate relevant FE model outputs for given engineering problems
4. appreciate the current practice in FEM and their limitations and be aware of developing methodologies in FEM

Upon successful completion of this module the following UK-SPEC learning outcome descriptors are satisfied:

A comprehensive understanding of the relevant scientific principles of the specialisation (SM7M)
A critical awareness of current problems and/or new insights most of which is at, or informed by, the forefront of the specialisation (SM8M)
Ability both to apply appropriate engineering analysis methods for solving complex problems in engineering and to assess their limitations (EA6M)
Ability to use fundamental knowledge to investigate new and emerging technologies (EA5M)
A thorough understanding of current practice and its limitations, and some appreciation of likely new developments (P9m)
Ability to apply engineering techniques, taking account of a range of commercial and industrial constraints (P10m)
Apply their skills in problem solving, communication, information retrieval, working with others, and the effective use of general IT facilities (G1)


- Non-linear kinematics and limitations of linear assumptions
- Weak form of equilibrium equations in structural analysis and principle of virtual work
- Non-linear constitutive modelling (elastoplasticity and hyperelasticity)
- Element technology for non-linear effects (reduced integration, mixed methods, hourglass control,
- Computational contact mechanics
- Application of verification and validation aligned with ISO/ASME standards
- Advanced applications of FE (e.g. structural optimisation, impact, fatigue, X-FEM, ALE, ); not all covered yearly

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Independent online learning hours16.00
Private study hours102.00
Total Contact hours32.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)150.00

Private study

Private study includes completing practicals with 2 short reports (about 2x25 hours), one team coursework item (about 50 hours).

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Formative feedback will be provided during practical sessions; during interactive teaching session with direct discussion of the students’ interpretation of theoretical content; for the coursework, with formative submission of a coursework plan in week 10.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Group ProjectCoursework60.00
Computer ExerciseTask 1 Report20.00
Computer ExerciseTask 2 Report20.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

100% coursework

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 15/09/2023


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