Module code: ENG3197

Module Overview

A lecture and tutorial based module providing an introduction to basic aerodynamic concepts, followed by development of specific understanding of vehicle aerodynamics and the associated requirements for overall vehicle design. Aerodynamic drag is considered in the context of streamlined and bluff body type vehicle flows. Aerodynamic lift/downforce in ground effect is covered, including consideration of high performance vehicles. The impact of aerodynamics on vehicle stability and loading is introduced. The link between external aerodynamics and internal flows, for cooling and thermal management, is additionally considered.

Module provider

Mechanical Engineering Sciences

Module Leader

DOHERTY John (Mech Eng Sci)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 6

Module cap (Maximum number of students): N/A

Overall student workload

Module Availability

Semester 2

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

Indicative content includes:

Aerodynamic Terms, Concepts and Forces

Historical review. Aerodynamics within overall vehicle design process. Terminology. Boundary layer. Reynolds number. Pressure Coefficient. Favourable and adverse pressure distributions. Aerodynamic forces leading to drag, lift (downforce) and moment coefficients. Breakdown of drag and downforce.

Aerodynamic tools and limitations

Spectrum of aerodynamic tools and associated fidelity of fluid dynamics modelling. Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD). Wind tunnel testing and rolling roads. Track/road testing.

Aerofoils and Wings

Aerofoil and Wing definitions. Multi-element devices. Vortices. Induced drag. Ground effect. Wings in ground effect. Add-on features (e.g. End plates, Gurney flaps).

Vehicle Shapes and Aerodynamic Features

Attached flows and streamline design. Separated flows, wakes and base flows. Examples of specific aerodynamic features (e.g. Venturi, Diffuser, Spoiler, Open wheel). Typical aerodynamic coefficient values. Standard road cars. Commercial vehicles. High performance and race cars.

Vehicle Performance

Impact of aerodynamics on vehicle performance and efficiency. Stability, sensitivity, cross winds and multi-vehicle interaction.

External-Internal Flows

Cooling. Ventilation, heating, air conditioning. Contribution to noise. 


Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Coursework COURSEWORK 40

Alternative Assessment


Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate understanding of theory, standards and modelling, as well as the ability to describe particular aerodynamic features and associated analysis methodologies in the final examination. The coursework element allows students to demonstrate that they can interpret a problem, can undertake appropriate research, can apply relevant methods and tools, can comment on suitability of the methods, and can report findings concisely.

Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:

  • Coursework      [ Learning outcomes 2, 3, 4 ]               (30 hours)                {40%}

  • Examination     [ Learning outcomes 1, 2, 4, 5 ]            (1.5 hours)              {60%}

Formative assessment and feedback

  • Formative verbal feedback is given in tutorials

  • Written feedback is given on the coursework assessment

Module aims

  • An introduction to basic aerodynamic concepts, standards and terminology
  • An understanding of vehicle external aerodynamics, including streamlined flows, bluff body flows and ground effects
  • An understanding of internal flows for cooling
  • A critical assessment of vehicle aerodynamic drag, lift and stability considerations
  • Familiarisation with methods for analysing aerodynamic characteristics and their use for design 

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
1 Describe and demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of key vehicle aerodynamic characteristics and performance parameters, in the context of overall vehicle engineering, through analysis of past, current and future vehicle developments (SM1b/m, SM3b/m) K
2 Demonstrate an understanding of advanced analysis techniques (CFD, wind-tunnel,  track testing), including sources of uncertainty (SM1b/m, D3b/m, P3) K
3 Demonstrate an understanding of and ability to apply mathematical/computational modelling techniques for aerofoils, wings, multi-element devices and ducts, including ground effects as appropriate, together with knowledge of key assumptions, limitations and evidence of validation against experiment (SM2b/m, EA3b/m, P3) KC
4 Describe and demonstrate an understanding of streamlined and bluff body flows, with an associated breakdown of the aerodynamic drag and key sources of uncertainty (SM1b/m, EA3b/m, D3b/m) K
5 Describe and evaluate the impact of aerodynamic performance on overall vehicle performance, efficiency and stability in a variety of driving conditions (SM3b/m, EL4) KC

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Methods of Teaching / Learning

The learning and teaching strategy is designed to:

introduce vehicle aerodynamics and design methodology, through a combination of theory, empirical analysis, observation, computational prediction and experimental data. This is delivered principally through lectures, demonstration (computational, wind-tunnel) and tutorial classes.

The learning and teaching methods include:

  • 2 hours lecture per week x 11 weeks

  • 2 hour tutorial (in groups and individually) x 11 weeks

  • Aerodynamics coursework (30 hours)

  • 74.5 hours independent learning

Indicated Lecture Hours (which may also include seminars, tutorials, workshops and other contact time) are approximate and may include in-class tests where one or more of these are an assessment on the module. In-class tests are scheduled/organised separately to taught content and will be published on to student personal timetables, where they apply to taken modules, as soon as they are finalised by central administration. This will usually be after the initial publication of the teaching timetable for the relevant semester.

Reading list
Upon accessing the reading list, please search for the module using the module code: ENG3197

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Automotive Engineering MEng 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Automotive Engineering BEng (Hons) 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module

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 2019/0 academic year.