Module code: ENGM032

Module Overview

This module is concerned with the design of steel and steel/concrete composite bridges. Emphasis is placed on understanding the fundamentals of steel and steel/concrete composite analysis in relation to the design of plate or box girder bridges. It builds on knowledge and skills acquired in earlier structural design modules (in particular ENG1076 and ENG2102, which deal with the design of steel structures according to Eurocode 3). The module also addresses stability and buckling requirements during erection and operation of bridges and explains the nuances of Eurocodes 3 & 4 (and BS5400 where appropriate), thus enabling students to produce efficient designs when tackling coursework briefs and examination questions.

Students become familiar with the different criteria that must be met for a design scheme to be successful, with respect to safety, functionality and sustainability. The application of Codes of Practice (principally Eurocodes 3 and 4) covered in this module provide a strong foundation for work in professional teams dealing with bridge analysis and design. Professional skills also include presentation of technical calculations regarding the selection of types and sizes of structural elements vis-à-vis relevant clauses in codes of practice.

Module provider

Sustainability, Civil & Env Engineering

Module Leader


Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 7

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

Overall student workload

Independent Learning Hours: 103

Seminar Hours: 11

Tutorial Hours: 11

Captured Content: 25

Module Availability

Semester 2

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

Principles of Composite Construction

  • Construction types.  Propped and unpropped construction. 

  • Serviceability and ultimate limit states.  Design for bending and shear.  Continuous construction. 

  • Plastic analysis.  Reference to current EC and BS codes of practice.  Design of shear connectors.

Behaviour and Design of Steel Plate and Box Girders

  • Design of girders for shear and bending interaction, design of transverse stiffeners.

  • Fatigue behaviour of steel bridges and connections; appraisal to EC3 Part 1-9. 

  • Means of improving fatigue performance of steel bridges.

  • Design of bolted and welded steel bridge connections; appraisal to EC3 Part 1-8. 


Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Coursework COURSEWORK 50
Examination EXAM (2 HOUR) 50

Alternative Assessment


Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate their understanding of the underlying theory and behaviour (steel/concrete composite construction, plate and stiffened plate construction) as well as their skills in undertaking structural design of plate and box girder bridges using the relevant codes of practice.

Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:

  • A coursework which addresses a design brief for a bridge to be designed and constructed under certain requirements and constraints. The students need to produce alternatives (based on their general understanding of the issues involved) and then justify one scheme that is taken forward to detailed design; this is undertaken using the relevant codes of practice and is presented in a technical report that follows the way these tasks are undertaken by design offices. This coursework constitutes 50% of the assessment.

  • An examination covering all topics from theory and application addressed across the entire syllabus. This constitutes the remaining 50% of the assessment.   

Formative assessment and feedback is provided via the weekly seminar and tutorial classes.  The students have the opportunity to ask questions both on the theory and on worked examples (presented through captured content made available prior to the live classes). They are provided with tutor support in response to individual questions arising from these, while further questions are encouraged on worked examples that are presented during the live sessions.

Further individualised feedback is provided via the coursework submissions.


Module aims

  • Develop an understanding of steel and steel/concrete composite bridge design and construction.
  • Present and explain the principles of composite construction in terms of determining the stiffness and strength of commonly used steel/concrete cross-sections.
  • Develop an understanding of plate and stiffened behaviour in the context of steel plate girder and box girder design
  • Explain the importance of ensuring stability during the construction of bridges.
  • Demonstrate the application of theory to real design situations by satisfying relevant code requirements in the Eurocodes 3 and 4 and BS5400.

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 Design a steel/concrete composite, single and continuous span bridge KCPT
002 Estimate the expected fatigue life for a range of welded details use in steel bridges KC
003 Assess the stability of a steel/concrete bridge under construction KC
004 Develop economic and structural appraisals of various schemes available for a particular bridge crossing KCPT
005 Technical report writing through a coursework assignment modelled on technical submissions by design offices PT
006 Critical thinking skills through comparison and selection of design schemes based on different criteria. PT

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 provide students with the opportunity to acquire knowledge and understanding of the basic concepts of steel/concrete composite analysis and design. Building on this foundation, the module then provides students with further knowledge on the behaviour of steel plate and box girders, which are commonly used in designing medium and long-span bridges. Throughout the module, the application of theory is demonstrated through the presentation of relevant codes of practice, thus introducing the students to tasks undertaken by practicing engineers dealing with the design and assessment of steel and steel/concrete composite bridges.

The module is delivered in a weekly learning diet consisting of: (1) captured content (presentation of theory and clauses in codes); (2) seminars (to reinforce the theory and its implementation); (3) tutorial sessions (to go through worked examples and answer questions). Wider reading of research articles is encouraged, with some linked to the design coursework that the students undertake over most of the study period. Pertinent articles are made available with their relevance to the learning outcomes explained in the weekly study notes (to guide students through the captured content available on Surreylearn).

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: ENGM032

Other information

This module addresses the Resourcefulness & Resilience, Sustainability and Employability pillars. 

Resourcefulness & Resilience: Students develop the ability to respond to problem-based tasks and provide viable solutions to realistic bridge analysis and design problems.¿ They are encouraged to apply their engineering knowledge and judgement in proposing and evaluating solutions, identifying and correcting errors; and in building confidence by tackling open ended questions related to the design of steel and steel/concrete bridges.

Sustainability: Students learn about material and form selection in terms of safety, functionality and sustainability criteria. They are exposed to possible trade offs that need to be considered in achieving successful design proposals.

Employability: The application of Codes of Practice covered in this module provide a strong foundation for work in professional teams dealing with structural analysis and design of bridges. Professional skills also include presentation of technical calculations vis-à-vis code clauses and critical thinking in selecting types and sizes of structural elements.

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 2024/5 academic year.