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2024/25 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

MECH3790 Aerodynamics and Aerospace Propulsion

20 creditsClass Size: 80

Module manager: Dr Andrew Shires

Taught: Semesters 1 & 2 (Sep to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2024/25

Pre-requisite qualifications

Understand the fundamental concepts of steady incompressible fluid flow in two-dimensions, with consideration of both ideal (inviscid) and real (viscous) flow, including;
- the continuum concepts of conservation of mass, momentum and energy
- Streamlines and Streamtubes
- Potential flow theory and the Stream function
- Newtons law of viscosity and the Boundary-layer
- Static, dynamic and total pressure and Bernoulli’s equation

Understand the fundamental concepts of equilibrium thermodynamics including;
- The First, Second and Third laws of thermodynamics
- State variables and state functions
- Internal energy, heat and entropy
- Reversible and irreversible processes
- Heat transfer by conduction, convection and radiation.
- Applications of thermodynamic concepts to topics such as heat exchangers, Otto and Diesel engine cycles
- Combustion including: fuels, chemical equations, stoichiometry; chemical reaction schemes, rate of reaction


MECH1215Thermofluids 1
MECH2670Thermofluids 2

This module is mutually exclusive with

MECH3496Thermofluids 3

Module replaces

MECH 3485 Aerodynamics with Computational Fluid DynamicsMECH 3750 Aerospace Propulsion

This module is not approved as a discovery module

Module summary

This module will provide students with a good understanding of experimental and theoretical aerodynamic analysis methods and their integration in the design process. It emphasises the importance of aerodynamics in engineering product design, particularly for aerospace vehicles. Students should be able to apply these basic aerodynamic principles to other application areas such as the design of racing cars, wind turbines, fans, buildings, sailing boats, etcThe module also extends students thermo-fluid dynamic knowledge to the analysis of aerospace propulsion systems.


The module aims to provide a solid understanding of practical aerodynamic flows relevant to aeronautical engineering and of aerospace propulsion systems.

Learning outcomes
On completion of this module, the student will be able to:
- Explain how experimental and theoretical analyses can be applied to aerodynamic design
- Review the governing equations for aerodynamics and methodologies for solving them computationally
- Gain skills in problem solving in the area of aerodynamic design using panel methods
- Understand flow structures and describe the behaviour of flows around basic shapes such as streamlined or bluff bodies
- Appreciate the importance of boundary layers and compressibility for aerodynamic flows.
- Understand all aspects of aerospace propulsion including; supersonic aerodynamics, aero piston engines, gas turbine engines, ramjet and scramjet engines, rocket engines and propulsion integration
- Perform engine cycle analysis to determine engine performance

- 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 (SM1m, SM7M)
- Knowledge and understanding of mathematical and statistical methods necessary to underpin their education in their engineering discipline and to enable them to apply a range of mathematical and statistical methods, tools and notations proficiently and critically in the analysis and solution of engineering problems (SM2m)
- Ability to apply and integrate knowledge and understanding of other engineering disciplines to support study of their own engineering discipline and the ability to evaluate them critically and to apply them effectively (SM3m)
- Awareness of developing technologies related to mechanical engineering (SM4m)
- A comprehensive knowledge and understanding of mathematical and computational models relevant to the engineering discipline, and an appreciation of their limitations (SM5m)
- Understanding of engineering principles and the ability to apply them to undertake critical analysis of key engineering processes (EA1m)
- Ability to identify, classify and describe the performance of systems and components through the use of analytical methods and modelling techniques (EA2)
- Ability both to apply appropriate engineering analysis methods for solving complex problems in engineering and to assess their limitations (EA3m, EA6M)
- Advanced level knowledge and understanding of a wide range of engineering materials and components (P2m, P12M)
- Ability to apply relevant practical and laboratory skills (P3)
- 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)

Skills outcomes
In addition to providing a firm foundation in the subject, this module develops the analytical and problem solving skills.


Semester 1 - Introduction to aerodynamics
- Hierarchy of equations for aerodynamic flows.
- Review of ideal flow dynamics -Continuity, Bernoulli's equation, Venturi flows.
- Characteristics of real flows - viscous, rotational, compressible, & unsteady flows.
- Review of viscous flows and the importance of boundary layers to aerodynamic flows.
- Understanding flow structures and the behaviour of flows around basic shapes: streamlined bodies, bluff bodies, steps, cavities.
- Basic physics of flight and the importance of lift, drag and pitching moments.

Semester 1 - Theoretical Aerodynamics
- Classical two-dimensional aerofoil theories - thin aerofoil theory; transonic small perturbation theory; modelling of solid bodies in a potential flow (panel methods); Circulation and the production of lift, Stream Function and Velocity Potential, Supposition of elementary flows, role of Laplace's equation, Kutta condition.
- Viscous coupled schemes - Boundary-Layer approximations, Von Karman Momentum Integral Equation, Boundary-Layer similarity
- Classical three-dimensional wing theory - Prandtl lifting line & vortex lattice theory; three-dimensional panel methods.

Semester 1 - Low speed aerodynamics
- Subsonic aerofoil design: nomenclature - effect of; camber, thickness, leading-edge radius, flow transition, separation, favourable and adverse pressure gradients and ideal pressure distributions.
- Using panel methods for aerofoil design.
- Design for high lift: multi-element aerofoils, vortex lift, ground effect.
- Origins & determination of drag.
- Subsonic wing design: effect of taper, aspect ratio, rotary wing aircraft.
- Non-aerospace applications; motorsport, wind energy. wind loading on structures
- Flow control
- Wind tunnel test techniques

Semester 1/2 - High speed aerodynamics
- Compressibility: shock waves, supersonic aerofoils
- Transonic aerofoil design: supercritical aerofoils, shock induced separation and buffet.
- Using panel methods for transonic aerofoil design
- Transonic and Supersonic wing design, Wing sweep, area ruling

Semester 2 - Introduction to Aerospace Propulsion systems
- Review of fundamental theories relevant to propulsion systems
- Ideal cycle analysis
Semester 2 - Gas turbine engines
- Real turbine cycles
- Exhaust systems
- Intakes and Combustors
- Compressors and Turbines
- Turbofans, Turboprops & Turboshafts
- Design considerations

Semester 2 - Piston engines
- Engine types and cycles
- Power generation
- Propeller thrust and design
Semester 2 - Ramjet & Scramjet engines
- Engine types and cycles
- Component design

Semester 2 - Rockets
- Engine types and performance parameters
- Propellants & component design
Semester 2 - Propulsion integration
- Engine placement
- Intake distortion and noise

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Class tests, exams and assessment12.002.00
Private study hours150.00
Total Contact hours50.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

Students are to spend on average:
- 0.5 hours preparation/revision for each lecture (22 hours total),
- approximately 40 hours of work for one piece of coursework (80 hours total),
- 48 hours for the exam preparation

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

An online discussion board will be monitored during specified times each week.
Minerva/TopHat quiz after each topic.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Computer ExerciseWind Tunnel and CFD Lab20.00
PracticalSmall scale jet and turboprop engine laboratory and solve related questions20.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)40.00

1) Coursework marks carried forward and 60% resit exam OR 2) 100% resit exam

Exam typeExam duration% of formal assessment
Unseen exam 2 hr 60.00
Total percentage (Assessment Exams)60.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 29/04/2024 16:16:42


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