The University of Southampton

SESM3033 Orthopaedic Biomechanics

Module Overview

This module will provide an insight into the engineering based problems faced in orthopaedic biomechanics, through a detailed study of intact lower limb and the lower limb pre- and post- total joint replacement. You will gain an understanding of the structure of bone from the micro scale through to the full construct level, the major bones and tissues in the lower limb, their structure property relationships, and their kinematics. This knowledge will underpin your understanding of the replaced joint and its function, from an engineering perspective and from a surgical perspective. Finally, you will learn about the modes of failure of the replaced joint, and what can be done to prevent failure based on clinical experience, materials selection and design.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

To provide an insight into the engineering based problems faced in orthopaedic biomechanics, through detailed study of lower limb total joint replacement

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

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

  • Material properties of bone and soft tissues from the micro level to the macroscopic level
  • Mechanics of the lower limb
  • Factors related to the design of hip and knee joint replacement
  • Techniques used to assess the performance of joint replacement
  • Apply engineering analysis techniques to orthopaedic biomechanics problems
  • Evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of total joint replacement designs
  • Make informed decisions as to the best method to assess the performance of total joint replacements
  • To use standard software packages in problem solving situations
  • Prepare brief technical reports


Introduction to course – 1 lecture. Functional Anatomy – 3 lectures. Cell mechanics (properties, characterisation, mechanobiology) – 3 lectures. Soft tissue mechanics (Ligaments, muscles, tendons) – 3 lectures. Soft tissue Mechanics (structure/properties) – 3 lectures. Bone mechanics (structure, material properties, modelling/remodelling) – 3 lectures. Bone mechanics (mechanical characterisation, fracture mechanics, degeneration) – 3 lectures. Whole bone biomechanics (kinematics) – 3 lectures. Joint and muscle forces (kinetics) – 3 lectures. Finite element modelling of bone (general introduction) – 3 lectures. Laboratories (FE modelling and gait analysis) – 6 x 1 hour slots Total hip replacement – THR (bearing couples/fixation/mechanics) – 3 lectures. Total knee replacement – TKR (bearing couples/fixation/mechanics) – 3 lectures. Case studies on THR and TKR – 3 lectures. Revision – 3 lectures.

Special Features

Talks by clinicians from Southampton General Hospital (SGH)

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include • Lectures - Including guest talks from clinicians and industry • Computing labs - Using basic computational modelling techniques to develop models of the bone and augmenting the model as the course progresses to include surrounding tissues, motions, loads and implanted bone. • Online resources - Blackboard - Case studies

Completion of assessment task24
Preparation for scheduled sessions70
Supervised time in studio/workshop6
Wider reading or practice10
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Van C. Mow, Rik Huiskes. Basic orthopaedic biomechanics & mechano-biology. 

Margareta Nordin, Victor H. Frankel. Basic biomechanics of the musculoskeletal system. 


Assessment Strategy



MethodPercentage contribution
Coursework 25%
Exam 75%


MethodPercentage contribution
Exam 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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