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The University of Southampton

CENV3066 Environmental Hydraulics

Module Overview

The importance of environments such as rivers and estuaries to humans cannot be overstated. They provide us with food, water, energy, communication paths and ports. However, they can also cause major damage through flooding and erosion, and they are the means by which oceans are being polluted with microplastics, threatening marine life and human health. Therefore, engineering in these environments must be based on a solid understanding of the mechanics governing them. The module will provide you with the necessary knowledge to design and troubleshoot a variety of river and estuary engineering works. It will introduce you to the fascinating hydraulics of rivers, including the interactions between sediment (e.g. sand, gravel) and water flow: these in turn underpin the river’s response to any engineering intervention such as embankments, dams and bridge piers. Environmental issues associated with the transport of pollutants (e.g. microplastics) will also be addressed. Theory will be given in the wider context of Civil Engineering and will serve as the basis for further learning about e.g. coastal & offshore engineering, river engineering, flood modelling and mitigation, etc. Lectures will be complemented by laboratory- and computer-based sessions, and circumstances permitting, a field trip.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

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

  • Qualitative behaviour of river dynamics (e.g. river meanders)
  • Relevant hydrodynamic equations of open channel flows
  • The mechanics of sediment transport and modelling approaches available
  • Design notions of the most common river engineering works
  • Transport of pollutants
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Critically analyse the fundamental equations of fluid dynamics and appreciate how they relate to approximate equations commonly employed in the study of open channels
  • Appreciate the importance of turbulence in open channels, particularly in connection to mixing, the velocity profile and bed shear stress
  • Identify the coupling between bed shear stress and sediment transport in fluvial environments
  • Utilise the principle of sediment-mass balance to predict the evolution of the river bed
  • Identify the most appropriate theoretical and practical tools for solving a given problem of engineering interest in rivers
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Problem analysis and problem solving
  • Team work
  • Report writing
  • General theory of fluid dynamics
  • Knowledge on numerical modelling and experimental hydraulics
Subject Specific Practical Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Determine river bed/banks stability and propose diverse alternatives for river training
  • Quantify bed-form and grain roughness effects on flow resistance
  • Identify different modes of sediment transport and quantify their rates as functions of hydraulic variables
  • Describe the processes responsible for the transport of a pollutant
  • Critically assess scour around bridge foundations
  • Use numerical models to predict the morphological evolution of a river
  • Carry out experiments in flumes and process the data
  • Exercise technical judgement and make decisions
  • Carry out and present engineering calculations


HYDRAULICS REVISION (1 week) Introduction. Recap of Open Channel Flow theory from CENV2008 Hydraulics: applications (e.g. weirs, stilling basins), limitations and motivation for further learning. OPEN CHANNEL HYDRODYNAMICS (3 + 1 weeks*) Revision of basic concepts of fluid dynamics (e.g. conservation laws, drag, etc.). Fundamental equations of fluid dynamics and their useful simplifications for open channels (e.g. the Shallow Water equations). Introduction to turbulence in rivers. The velocity profile. Bed shear stress. TRANSPORT OF POLLUTANTS (2 + 1 weeks*) Water quality modelling. Transport of scalars. The convection-diffusion equation. Turbulent diffusion and dispersion. Sources and sinks. SEDIMENT TRANSPORT (2 + 1 weeks*) Modes of sediment transport (bedload and suspension). Mechanics of sediment motion. Modelling of sediment transport and bed evolution. Estimating scour at bridge piers. Sediment yield to reservoirs. *There is a laboratory-based practice or computer lab associated with each of these topics. If circumstances permit it, a field trip will also be organised.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

The module consists of conventional lectures, computer labs, hydraulic laboratory sessions and a field trip.

Practical classes and workshops9
Independent Study110
Total study time150



MethodPercentage contribution
Continuous Assessment 50%
Final Assessment  50%

Linked modules

New Part 3 module, as agreed in last DCMEE away day


To study this module, you will need to have studied the following module(s):

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