Module code: ENG3197

Module Overview

Module provides an introduction to relevant 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 is discussed. Computational and experimental approaches for prediction of aerodynamic performance and their use in industry is introduced.

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

Independent Learning Hours: 106

Lecture Hours: 11

Tutorial Hours: 22

Captured Content: 11

Module Availability

Semester 2

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

Indicative content includes:

Aerodynamic Terms, Concepts and Forces

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.

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. Diffuser, Spoiler). Typical aerodynamic coefficient values. Standard road cars. Commercial vehicles. High performance race cars.

Vehicle Performance

Impact of aerodynamics on vehicle performance and stability.


Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Coursework Coursework 40
Examination 2 HR INVIGILATED EXAM 60

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 apply 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, can critically analyse results and can report findings concisely.

Summative assessment for this module consists of a coursework report [learning outcomes 2, 3, 4] and an examination [learning outcomes 1, 2, 4, 5].

Formative assessment is given via tutorial and discussion sessions, written feedback is given for the coursework assessment.

Module aims

  • An introduction to relevant aerodynamic concepts, standards and terminology
  • An understanding of vehicle external aerodynamics, including streamlined flows, bluff body flows and ground effects
  • 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
001 Describe and demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of key vehicle aerodynamic characteristics and performance parameters, in the context of overall vehicle engineering K C1, C2
002 Demonstrate an understanding of advanced analysis techniques (CFD, wind-tunnel, track testing), including sources of uncertainty KP C3, C/M12
003 Demonstrate an understanding of and ability to apply mathematical/computational modelling techniques for aerofoils, wings and multi-element devices, including ground effects as appropriate, together with knowledge of key assumptions, limitations and evidence of validation against experiment KC C1, C2, C3
004 Describe and demonstrate an understanding of streamlined and bluff body flows, with an associated breakdown of the expected aerodynamic drag and key sources of uncertainty K C1
005 Assess the impact of aerodynamic performance on overall vehicle performance and stability KC C1

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 discussion/lecture sessions, captured content and tutorial classes.

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 (Dual degree with HIT) BEng (Hons) 2 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 2025/6 academic year.