The University of Southampton

SESA3030 Aerospace Control Design

Module Overview

This module builds on the student’s understanding of mechanics and dynamics to develop an understanding of feedback control systems and the parameters that influence their stability and performance. The module covers time and frequency domain analysis of dynamic systems and considers both Laplace and state-space system representations. Starting with a review of general linear systems theory, the ideas of dynamic and static stability are developed. The relationship between system poles (or eigenvalues) and performance and stability are described and used to determine system responses to control inputs. The design of feedback control systems is then introduced together with the ideas of disturbance rejection, multivariable systems and design tradeoffs. The lectures are complemented by a set of in-depth design examples in which the techniques presented in the course material are used to solve real problems. Regular coursework is used to provide formative and summative assessment and Matlab examples and problems used to develop application skills.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

Develop an understanding of feedback control systems and the parameters that influence their stability and performance. This includes the fundamental techniques of modelling dynamic systems, the effect of negative feedback on dynamic response, characterisation by primary analysis and an understanding of the fundamental mathematical tools used in control system design.

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

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

  • low order linear mathematical models of physical systems and their manipulation
  • how negative feedback affects dynamic response and its characterization by primary analysis and performance measures
  • fundamental mathematical tools used in system analysis and design.
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • derive a model, making justifiable assumptions, from a description of a physical system.
  • determine criteria for desired system performance and interpret trade-offs in different design configurations.
  • analyse time and frequency domain response characteristics from plots, determine stability and predict responses for modified plots.
  • apply standard design techniques to achieve satisfactory closed-loop performance.
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Study and learn independently, solve problems systematically
Subject Specific Practical Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • to analyse dynamic systems using standard mathematical techniques
  • apply these skills in specific domains, e.g. flight mechanics, ship dynamics and automotive systems.
  • appreciate some of the technical issues associated with control system design and the relationship with other areas of engineering and allied disciplines.


Introduction (1 lecture) Linear systems theory (2 lectures): • review of time domain analysis of linear systems dynamics, • stability, performance measures and design process • state space and process models • example control systems. System Representation in the s-domain (4 lectures) • the Laplace transform and system transfer function, • free/forced behaviour and the characteristic equation, • system poles and zeros, relative and absolute stability, root loci, • steady-state error and the final value theorem. • multivariable systems Frequency response of linear systems (4 lectures) • sinusoidal excitation and Fourier Series, • forecasting gain and phase, the frequency response function, • graphical representation of frequency response, Bode plots. Closed-loop control systems (6 lectures) • open/closed loop transfer function definitions, • performance measures in control system design, • control system design examples, • PID control system definitions and characteristics. Control system stability analysis (7 lectures) • stability in the s-domain, the Root locus method, • stability in the frequency domain, Nyquist criterion, • performance measures in the frequency domain, • gain and phase margins, closed loop frequency response. Design of feedback control systems (6 lectures) • system compensation objectives and characteristics, • lead-lag compensation, root locus and frequency response methods • disturbance rejection Design examples (3 lectures) • longitudinal, roll and yaw control • phugoid suppression • multivariable gas turbine engine control Revision and problem solving (3 lectures)

Special Features


Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods will include 36 lectures, tutorial and problem solving classes. Learning activities include directed reading, case studies, problem solving and computer simulations.

Preparation for scheduled sessions24
Follow-up work10
Completion of assessment task6
Wider reading or practice58
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

N.S. Nise (2000). Control System Engineering. 

C. L. Phillips and R. D. Harbor (2000). Feedback Control Systems. 

Software requirements. Matlab

B. Etkin and L.D. Reid (1995). Dynamics of flight: stability and control. 


Assessment Strategy



MethodPercentage contribution
Coursework 4%
Coursework 4%
Coursework 4%
Coursework 4%
Coursework 4%
Exam  (120 minutes) 80%


MethodPercentage contribution
Exam 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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