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Unit information: Nonlinear Structures and Structural Stability in 2019/20

Please note: Due to alternative arrangements for teaching and assessment in place from 18 March 2020 to mitigate against the restrictions in place due to COVID-19, information shown for 2019/20 may not always be accurate.

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name Nonlinear Structures and Structural Stability
Unit code AENGM0057
Credit points 10
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Schenk
Open unit status Not open

Structures and Materials 3 (AENG31200) or equivalent



School/department Department of Aerospace Engineering
Faculty Faculty of Engineering


This unit aims to introduce students to fundamental concepts in structural stability and the analysis of nonlinear structures, as well as develop their skills in analysing and interpreting the response of nonlinear structures using commercial finite element (FE) software. This will be achieved through a lecture series complemented by computer labs and will be assessed by means of homework exercises and a project to design and analyse a nonlinear structure.

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of the unit, the students will be able to:

• recognise and explain different types of structural stability;

• apply analytical and semi-analytical methods for solving problems in structural stability;

• explain fundamental concepts in the numerical analysis of nonlinear structures;

• analyse and interpret the response of nonlinear structures using finite element software;

• apply their knowledge to design and evaluate nonlinear structures;

Teaching details

The lecture series will consist of 2 hours per week for 10 weeks; in addition, 2 computer lab sessions will

introduce the fundamentals of commercial non-linear finite element software. The assessed homework

exercises will enable the students to apply and develop their understanding of the theoretical concepts

from lectures. The final project will enable the students to put their understanding into practise, and

design and analyse a nonlinear structure using finite element software.

Assessment Details

  • [45%] individual homework exercises (3x) to apply the theory covered during lectures;
  • [55%] small-group project to design and analyse a nonlinear structure, informed by current

research on nonlinear structures and structural stability; assessed by means of a short report (max. 15 pages including figures/tables).

Reading and References

SP Timoshenko and JM Gere, “Theory of Elastic Stability”

  • ZP Ba┼żant and L Cedolin, “Stability of Structures: Elastic, Inelastic, Fracture and Damage theories”
  • JMT Thompson and GW Hunt, “General Theory of Elastic Stability”
  • VV Novozhilov, “Foundations of the Nonlinear Theory of Elasticity”
  • R de Borst, MA Crisfield, JJC Remmers and CV Verhoosel, “Non-linear Finite Element Analysis of Solids

and Structures”