The University of Southampton

CENV2024 Structural Design and Materials

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 Objectives

Module Aims

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 and you will be shown how to relate these principles to the structures you have built during the Constructionarium in Part 1.

Learning Outcomes

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
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Ability to learn
  • Accuracy of problem analysis and solving
Subject Specific Practical Skills

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
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

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


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 polymers and fibre composites. 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 members in bending, including doubly reinforced beams. o Design of members in bending and compression. o Design of shear reinforcement and calculation of the minimum area of steel. o Bond and anchorage, and 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. o Design of timber trusses, built-up timber members and flitch beams. Design of masonry structures: o Design of walls subjected to concentrated loads.

Special Features

Design, build, test laboratory class where students will design and manufacture a truss and then test it to destruction.

Learning and Teaching

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.

Preparation for scheduled sessions60
Follow-up work9
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Megson, T.H.G (2005). Structural and Stress Analysis. 

Jackson, N. and Dhir, R. K. (1996). Civil Engineering Materials. 

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


Assessment Strategy

Repeat year method - as per Referral Method.


MethodPercentage contribution
Coursework assignment(s) 20%
Exam 80%


MethodPercentage contribution
Exam 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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