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Module title Structural Design and Materials
Module code CENV2024
Module lead

Mike Byfield

Module lead profile url:
External Examiner: Prof Zoran Kapelan
Faculty Engineering & the Environment
Academic unit CivEng and the Env
Academic session first offered 201213
Credit Points ECTS 7.5
Level Undergraduate
When will the module be taught Semester 1
Pre-requisite and/or co-requisite modules
Programmes in which the module is core
Programmes in which the module is compulsory
Programmes in which the module is optional
Date of last edit 28th Oct 2015 - 8:42am

Module overview

You will learn how to apply the theoretical principles of structural mechanics learnt during your first year to the design of real life structures. You will learn the fundamental aspects of steelwork design with an emphasis on buckling. The design of reinforced concrete beams will be covered, as well as the design of timber and masonry structures. The selection of appropriate materials is vital skill for practicing civil/structural engineers and you will learn the underlying science behind the structural performance and durability of the main materials used in the built environment. This will include an emphasis on steel metallurgy and welding.

Aims and learning outcomes


Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to:

  • Having successfully completed the module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the properties, uses and problems of the most common construction materials including concrete, masonry, metals, timber, plastics, paints and bituminous materials. You will consider the properties of these materials, including issues related to long term durability, as well as sustainability and recycling.
  • You will be taught the theory of design from first principles but in the context of the Eurocodes. The philosophy underpinning modern structural design will be examined, as will the use of partial safety factors to ensure safety. You will learn how to design commonly occurring structural components, such as steel, reinforced concrete and timber members. An understanding of how structural components fit together to form a co-ordinated framework will also be acquired. You will be taught how to calculate the loading to individual structural components and how these loads transfer through structures to the foundations via load paths. You will be expected to recognise these principles in existing structures.

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • How materials function in service conditions in civil engineering
  • Load types and load combinations applied during the design of structural members
  • The failure mechanisms that affect the design of individual structural components and frames
  • The interaction between material properties and element performance in service

Subject Specific Intellectual

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to:

  • Acquire ability to use learned information in a wide range of design situations
  • Acquire the theory that underpins the design of the basic structural components

Transferable and Generic

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to:

  • Ability to learn
  • Accuracy of problem analysis and solving

Subject Specific Practical

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to:

  • Discuss the use of common construction materials, including advantages and disadvantages
  • Select materials for construction
  • Perform routine calculations to design structural elements
  • Recognise key failure mechanisms for steel, reinforced concrete, timber and masonry structural elements

Graduate Attributes

Graduate Attributes are the personal qualities, skills and understandings that University of Southampton students have the opportunity to develop. They include but extend beyond subject-specific knowledge of an academic discipline and its technical proficiencies. The Graduate Attributes are achieved through the successful attainment of the learning outcomes of the programmes, and successful engagement with the University’s co-curriculum e.g. the Graduate Passport.

A checklist for embedding the graduate attributes is available at:

Summary of syllabus content

Materials in construction

o Embodied energy and recycling of materials

o The micro-structure of iron-carbon alloys

o Engineering properties of steel

o Selection of appropriate steel grades for different applications

o Weldability of structural steels

o Timber: sources, sustainability, soft and hard woods, structure of wood, properties and durability issues.

o Masonry - bricks and blocks, mortar.

o Bituminous materials - types, properties and uses.

o Material properties of plastics. Use of paints and coating systems.


Calculation of design loads, moments and forces

o Types of loading, load combinations and load paths

o Limit state design and the use of partial safety factors

o Quantification of design loads, moments and shear forces


Design of steel structures

o Introduction to basic modes of failure for steel structures

o Elastic and plastic section moduli, classification of cross-sections and corresponding moment rotation behaviour

o Calculation of the moment capacity of laterally restrained and laterally unrestrained beams from first principles

o Steel members subjected to axial compression and bending moments


Design of reinforced concrete structures

o Design of beams in flexure, including doubly reinforced beams

o Design of shear reinforcement and calculation of the minimum area of steel

o Bond and anchorage of rebars, curtailment of reinforcement


Design of timber structures

o Design for flexure including bending, deflection, bearing and shear

o Design of timber floor joists

o Design of timber columns subjected to axial load and bending


Design of masonry structures

o Resistance of walls to concentrated loads

o Design of lintels

Summary of teaching and learning methods

The module will include 3 lectures per week for 12 weeks. A range of design examples will be presented to explain the application of the theory to real design situations. An extensive range of tutorial questions will be provided for each topic and these will be accompanies with solution sheets which will enable you to practice and develop your understanding during your own private study time in preparation for the examination.

Study Time allocation:

Contact hours: 27 hours

Private study hours: 123 hours

Total study time: 150 hours

Summary of assessment and Feedback methods

Assessment Method Number % contribution to final mark Final assessment (✔)
Assignment 20%
Exam      (Duration: hours) 80%

Referral Method

By examination

Method of Repeat Year

Repeat year internally

Repeat year externally

Special Features

For features such as field trips, information should be included as to how students with special needs will be enabled to benefit from this or an equivalent experience.

Learning Resources

Resource type: Core textbook
ISBN: 9780333636831

Jackson, N. and Dhir, R. K.(1996) Civil Engineering Materials, (5th Ed). Palgrave

Resource type: Core textbook
ISBN: 0340631961

Megson, T.H.G (2005). Structural and Stress Analysis (2nd Edn), Butterworth-Heinemann. I 

Purchase of these textbooks is recommended although multiple copies of both titles are available in the library.

Resource type: Core textbook
ISBN: 978-0-415-46720-9

Ayra, C. (2009). Design of Structural Elements. Spon Press

Appendix: KIS hours

Contact hours for Teaching:Hours
Seminars (including sessions with outside speakers)0
Practical Classes and Workshops (including Boat work)0
Project supervision0
Demonstration Sessions0
Supervised time in studios/workshops/laboratories0
External Visits0
Summer Workshops0
Work Based Learning0
Independent studyHours
Preparation for scheduled sessions13.5
Follow-up work13.5
Wider reading or practice71
Completion of assessment task15
Placement Hours0
Year Placement0
6 Month Placement0