Module code: ENG3176

Module Overview

The module provides an introduction to modelling complex structural behaviours used in practice for the design and analysis of structures. The Finite Element Method is introduced as a general tool for the numerical simulation of complex structural behaviours. Various topics associated with nonlinear structural behaviours, such as second-order effect, plastic collapse, and structural instability, are introduced.

Module provider

Civil and Environmental Engineering

Module Leader

WANG Ying (Civl Env Eng)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 6

JACs code: H210

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

Overall student workload

Independent Learning Hours: 84

Seminar Hours: 7

Tutorial Hours: 4

Guided Learning: 33

Captured Content: 22

Module Availability

Semester 1

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

Finite element method – an introduction to the method, including modelling principles, truss structures, frames structures and plate/shell structures. Introduction to the use of verification and validation processes in structural analysis modelling;

Nonlinear structural behaviours concerning structural failure:

    • Plastic collapse – kinematic approaches to estimation of plastic collapse loads for beams, simple frames and simple slabs;

    • Stability – an overview of structural stability theory and its significance;

    • Second order effect – or termed as P-delta effect, considering the effects of imperfection and/or deflection on the load-deflection analysis. 

As a core subject within Structures, this module will mainly cover the threads of 1) Design; and 2) Health and Safety Risk Management, and also contribute to the thread Sustainability.

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting

Alternative Assessment


Assessment Strategy

The summative assessment for this module consists of:

    Coursework assignment using Finite Element Analysis [LO 1, 2, 4, and 6] 

    An unseen written 2-hour exam [LO 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5] 

The formative assessment consists of:
    Self-assessment exercises on SurreyLearn
    Tutorial exercises

Feedback is given by 
    Personal feedback given during tutorials
    Written feedback on coursework and Self-assessment exercises
    Participation in SurreyLearn discussion forum


Module aims

  • Introduce different analytical and numerical approaches to assess the performance of different structural elements (i.e. frames, trusses, slabs and columns) commonly found in structural engineering.
  • Provide an appreciation of relevant topics in structural engineering such as second order effect for load-deflection analysis, plastic collapse, and instability which can govern the design/analysis of structures.

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed Ref
001 Evaluate the appropriateness of structural models (braced-frames and plated structures) by formal verification and validation techniques; KCT EA1B, EA2, EA3B
002 Employ commercial structural analysis and Finite Element applications to model skeletal and simple plane stress problems; PT EA2, P2B
003 Evaluate second-order effects; KC EA1B, EA2, EA3B
004 Use the Kinematic Approach to solve for rigid plastic collapse of beams, unbraced frames (including pitched rafter) and simple slabs; KC EA1B, EA2, EA3B
005 Evaluate forms of buckling (instability) failure in simple structural forms; KC EA1B, EA2, EA3B
006 Technical report writing, with the synthesis of data T P4

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Methods of Teaching / Learning

22 hours of lectures, 11 hours of tutorial classes, 30 hours of coursework and 87 hours independent learning.

2 hours examination.

Total student learning time 150 hours.

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: ENG3176

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Civil Engineering BEng (Hons) 1 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Civil Engineering MEng 1 Compulsory 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 2021/2 academic year.