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The University of Southampton

CENV1026 Design and Computing for Civil Engineers

Module Overview

This course develops your skills in design and computing. In the computing component you will be introduced to the fundamentals of programming using the Python language. You will have access to e-learning materials for familiarisation with AutoDesk for 2D and 3D design and visualisation. In the design component you will gain knowledge and skills in design by tackling a range of problems during the two January design weeks, culminating in a Design Project that runs through semester 2. Design representation through sketching, technical drawing, model making and prototyping is taught as a key part of the design process as well as for final communication of output. Design lectures encompass the history of engineering and architecture (showing how the design of structures has developed over time, referring constantly to cultural and technological developments) and on structural form and its relationship to material choice. You can develop your hands-on practical engineering skills at the City College Workshop training course.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

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

  • Strategies for decomposing a (mathematical) model of an engineering system or process into smaller tasks that may be solved sequentially (by a computer).
  • Methods by which a computer may be instructed to carry out a range of tasks, such as handling data, employing Boolean logic, undertaking iterative loops, receiving interactive input and producing graphical output.
  • Techniques by which a computer program can be built up using appropriate code structure, such as functions, classes and modules.
  • Basic techniques for the solution of linear equations, linear and non-linear regression, root finding and numerical differentiation and integration.
  • The historical context of Civil Engineering and Architecture.
  • Freehand sketching techniques.
  • Drawing setting out and orthographic projection techniques.
  • Effective communication of design ideas.
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Analyse the steps necessary to solve practical problems in engineering by means of computation and conceive of an appropriate algorithm to solve the problem.
  • Write and execute computer program to implement a chosen algorithm, with attention to logic, code structure, data types and input/output methods.
  • Apply numerical techniques to the solution of equations or the handling and representation of data relevant to practical problems Illustrate design intent and develop ideas through simple sketches and descriptions.
  • Recognise how the principles of structural mechanics are used in structural design.
  • Use ‘design, build, test’ techniques to confirm the viability of simple structural designs.
  • Use reference material in new design situations.
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Numeracy-data interpretation.
  • Exercising of independent judgment.
  • Planning and time management.
  • Group working.
  • Communication of ideas.
  • Leadership.
  • Independent learning.
  • Presentation of data and analysis results.
  • Creative thinking.
  • Communicating by sketching.
  • Problem solving.
  • CAD.
  • Decision making.
  • Critical appraisal.
Subject Specific Practical Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Construct computer programs to solve practical problems Draw freehand conceptual and freehand sketches.
  • Use Autodesk software for technical drawings: line styles and drawing conventions, scaling, sections and construction detailing.
  • Effectively communicate using a range of media and methods.
  • Hands-on engineering experience at City College


COMPUTER PROGRAMMING a. General Programming Skills: - Writing and executing a program (\Hello World"). - Writing and executing a program solving a mathematical equation using the appropriate base types. - Writing and executing a program the employs Boolean logic in an if statement. - Writing and executing a program demonstrating the use of iterative loops: for and while. - Writing and executing a program that uses compound data types: e.g. tuples, arrays, dictionaries. - Writing and executing a program demonstrating the use of code structures e.g. functions classes and modules. - Writing and executing a program that demonstrates a case of overloading and inheritance. b. Numerical Methods Skills: - Writing and executing a program that correctly uses the numpy.linalg library to solve a set of linear equations. - Writing and executing a program that uses regression of t a function to data and generates a graphical plot of the data and fitted function. - Writing and executing a program that demonstrates use of the Newton-Raphson method for root finding - Writing and executing a program that demonstrates numerical differentiation and integration. DESIGN - Design process; concept generation, design refinement and prototyping. - Design context (including history of architecture and the built environment from its beginnings through to contemporary themes and their relationship to culture and sustainability). - Observation, analysis and interpretation. Judgement. - Materials, material behaviour, and associated manufacturing processes. - Load paths, structural form, proportion, efficiency and qualitative analysis of structural behaviour. - Structural connections. - Learning from structural failures: Safe structures. c. Design communication and representation - Freehand sketching and model making. - Presentation skills (verbal, visual). - Drawing in plan, section, elevation, axonometric, isometric and perspective. - AutoDesk software package(s). - Professional technical drawing conventions related to Civil Engineering including; scale, setting out grids, line types and weights, dimensioning, annotation, and title blocks. d. Hands-on practical skills development.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

This module will be delivered through a combination of the following: • Lectures for the delivery of new material and concepts. • Tutorial sessions for the discussion of topics, support for student learning by means of examples, and to support project development. • Computing workshops to develop understanding and skills through practical application. • Student presentations to develop communication skills. • Self-paced/ online course material to support independent learning. • Individual and group work. • Workshop practical sessions. Semester 1 For Computer Programming, teaching methods will comprise lectures and computing workshops. Lectures deliver and discuss the high level concepts around programming, as well as demonstrating techniques the students will be required to learn, through `live' programming projected on the screen by the lecturer. Each lecture will conclude with the setting of an informal assignment which is then undertaken by students in the computing workshop, where a workstation is available to each student. Students are encouraged to converse and work together to complete the programming tasks, and demonstrators are on hand to answer queries and help students accomplish the tasks. A series of lectures will be given in support of Design. The first series will introduce the development and evolution of building and structural design and the broad principles of design and structural form. Following this a series of lectures will cover more specific mechanics within the discipline of civil engineering. The final series will address civil engineering materials, linking with other content delivered in cenv1027 Civil Engineering Fundamentals and feeding into the Design project in semester 2. An e-learning package will be made available to students to facilitate the teaching and learning of Autodesk CAD software. Students will be expected to complete the e-learning package by the end of Semester 1. There are a number of embedded assessments within the e-learning package and students must pass all to complete the e-learning course. The ability to use CAD as a tool for conveying information is an essential skill and will be first employed in semester 2 of this module then in all subsequent years of study. Semester 2 Immediately before semester 2 a two week (8 x 8hr) workshop sessions will introduce and apply design theories and to start the Design Project. This will continue in semester 2 with morning and afternoon sessions 1 day per week booked in one of our design studios for working and staff feedback. You will be expected to develop your projects outside of this contact time. Near the end of semester 2 a full day will be taken for final presentations of your design projects to members of academic staff and visitors from industry. At the end of semester 2 following the examination period there will be a 2-day workshop skills training at City College, Southampton. Attendance is COMPULSORY. This teaches skills in use of workshop tools and machinery manufacturing and fabrication in metal and plastic required to permit access to the student workshops to undertake assessed activities in future years of the programme.

Preparation for scheduled sessions80
Practical classes and workshops20
Wider reading or practice20
Supervised time in studio/workshop126
Completion of assessment task10
Total study time300


Assessment Strategy

The learning outcomes of this module will be assessed under the Part I Assessment Schedule for FEE Engineering Programmes which forms an Appendix to your Programme Specification. Feedback will be available on the formative work undertaken during the module.


MethodPercentage contribution
Part I Assessment Schedule 100%


Costs associated with this module

Students are responsible for meeting the cost of essential textbooks, and of producing such essays, assignments, laboratory reports and dissertations as are required to fulfil the academic requirements for each programme of study.

In addition to this, students registered for this module typically also have to pay for:


Students are provided with a sketch book and drawing equipment for design at the start of the year, but replacement costs are borne by the student. A range of standard construction materials are provided to support the design projects within this module, however, students may wish to customise their designs and choose alternative materials at their own cost. The costs associated with printing drawings and printing/ binding reports are to be covered by each student/ student group.

Please also ensure you read the section on additional costs in the University’s Fees, Charges and Expenses Regulations in the University Calendar available at

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