The University of Southampton

SESA3029 Aerothermodynamics

Module Overview

Aerothemodynamics is essential to the design of high speed flight vehicles (in this context high speed refers to anything above about Mach 0.3). The subject integrates thermodynamics and fluid mechanics concepts to cover the fundamentals of compressible flow, along with applications to external and internal aerodynamics.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

• Provide tools for analysis of compressible flows, including treatment of nozzle flows, shock waves and Prandtl-Meyer flows. • Apply principles of conservation of mass momentum and energy to high speed flow, including formulating the governing equations for compressible computational fluid dynamics. • Introduce students to heat transfer (radiative, conduction and convection).

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

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

  • Invis cid compressible high-speed flows
  • How the full governing equations can be simplified for sub- and supersonic flow regimes
  • Basic principles of heat transfer
  • Understand basic CFD analysis of inviscid flow
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Understand basic CFD analysis of inviscid flow.
  • Communicate work in written reports
  • Study and learn independently
Subject Specific Practical Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Practical application of tools such as MoC and CFD
  • Design and analyse supersonic nozzle flows
  • Apply simple correlations for estimation of heat transfer
  • Apply shock/expansion theory to external and internal aerodynamic application
  • Apply Ackerets’ theory to supersonic flow
  • Apply Prandtl-Glauert correction for subsonic flows


Introduction • Review of 1D gasdynamics and basic concept from thermodynamics Two-dimensional gas dynamics • Oblique shock waves; shock reflections (regular and Mach); shock/shock interactions; Prandtl-Meyer expansion waves; shock/expansion method for airfoils; under/over-expanded flow; supersonic wind tunnel. Conservation laws and simplifications • Conservation of mass, momentum and energy leading to the compressible Navier-Stokes equations, Crocco equation. Rotational and potential flows. Euler and potential flow equations. Method of characteristics • Derivation of MoC. 2-D supersonic nozzle design using MoC. Design of air intakes. Case study: solution of Euler equations for nozzle flow • Numerical methods. Application of MacCormack's method in conservation form. Boundary and initial conditions. Artificial viscosity. Coding issues. External aerodynamics • Flow patterns in transonic and supersonic airfoil flow; critical Mach number; thin airfoils in compressible flow; velocity potential and pressure coefficient; Prandtl-Glauert transformation; Ackeret theory for supersonic airfoil flow; minimum wave drag; effect of sweepback; sub- and supersonic leading edges. Heat transfer • Elements of conduction, convection and radiation heat transfer. Laminar and turbulent boundary layers. Shock interactions and boundary layer separation. Application to heat transfer on high speed vehicles. Revision Coursework (e.g. CFD of nozzle flow or MoC exercise) and examples sheets

Special Features


Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching and learning methods • Lectures. • Tutorials/examples classes. • Supporting material on Blackboard.

Completion of assessment task18
Preparation for scheduled sessions18
Follow-up work18
Wider reading or practice36
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Anderson, J.D. (2011). Fundamentals of Aerodynamics. 


Assessment Strategy

Can be repeated externally (100% exam) or internally.


MethodPercentage contribution
Coursework 10%
Exam  (120 minutes) 90%


MethodPercentage contribution
Exam  (120 minutes) 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

Linked modules

Pre-requisites: SESA2022 or FEEG2003 or equivalent.

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