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The University of Southampton

CENV6128 Introduction to Hydraulics

Module Overview

This module provides students with an introduction to how key principles of fluid dynamics are applied to solve practical problems in civil and coastal engineering. Understanding this link between physics and engineering will provide students with the ability to perform and critically assess a range of hydraulic computations commonly used in engineering. These include for instance the determination of the pressure of water on submerged solids (e.g. dams, lock gates), the design of pipelines and open-channels. By the end of the module students should also have gained an appreciation of the different types of flows that may occur in natural and engineered systems.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

The course ‘Understanding Civil Engineering (Hydraulics)’ is aimed at providing students with a general science degree the necessary background in selected fields of hydraulics that are important for civil and coastal engineers.These fields are in particular: 1. Properties of fluids. 2. Hydrostatic pressure. 3. Basics principles of mass, momentum and energy conservation. 4. Fluids in motion. 5. Flow in pipes. 6. Open Channel flow.

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

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

  • Basic fluid properties in Civil Engineering contexts
  • Methods of measuring fluid flow in pipes and open channels
  • The concepts of conservation of mass, momentum and energy in fluid flow
  • The factors that influence steady non-uniform flow in open channels and pipes
  • The principles used in calculating hydrostatic forces and moments
  • The relevance of hydraulics to the practice of civil engineering
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Apply fundamental concepts of physics to simple problems of fluid flow
  • Calculate forces and moments on submerged surfaces in a fluid at rest
  • Identify a suitable approach for solving simple problems of flows in pipes and open channels
  • Predict energy losses in simple flows in pipes
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Problem analysis and problem solving
  • Numeracy
Subject Specific Practical Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Carry out experiments on fundamental fluid mechanics behaviour


1. Physical Fluid Properties a. Density, Viscosity 2. Hydrostatic Pressure a. Pressure Forces on Plane and Submerged Surfaces. 3. Fluids in Motion a. Laminar and Turbulent Flow. b. Bernoulli's Equation. 4. Flow in Pipes a. The Darcy-Weisbach Equation. b. Determining Discharge. c. Determining Head Loss. d. Head Distribution along Pipelines. 5. Open Channel Flow a. Characteristics. b. Steady Uniform Flow. c. Manning's Equation. d. Specific Energy and Critical Depth. e. Supercritical and subcritical Flow. f. Non-uniform Flow. g. Gradually and rapidly varied non-uniform Flow.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

The module consists of a combination of self-study (at the student's own pace), online tests, tutorials, lab sessions and lectures.

Guided independent study14
Online discussion forums6
Independent Study45
Total study time75

Resources & Reading list

Chadwick, A, Morfett, J. And Borthwick M. (2004). Hydraulics in Civil and Environmental Engineering. 

Kay, M. (2007). Practical Hydraulics. 

Hamil, L. (2001). Understanding Hydraulics. 



MethodPercentage contribution
Examination  (90 minutes) 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Examination  (90 minutes) 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Examination  (90 minutes) 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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