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The University of Southampton

ISVR6141 Fundamentals of Vibration

Module Overview

Vibrations are the oscillation of a mechanical structure. Vibration may be desirable as in the strings of a guitar or in the human vocal cords. More often vibrations are undesirable as for the vibrations of an electrical motor or of an entire car. In both case modelling can inform the designer so that vibration can be precisely obtained or avoided. Although the optimal and cost effective way to minimise the vibration of a structure is by careful engineering early in the design cycle, frequently the engineer must turn to palliative measures to control vibration at a stage in the design when even minor modifications to the structure are prohibitively costly or detrimental to other performance targets. The general aims of this module are to introduce students with little or no previous experience of mechanical vibrations, and with quite different backgrounds, to the basic concepts of vibrational behaviour, to provide a general introduction to vibration modelling, analysis and control and to give students some experience of vibration measurement. This module also promotes the principles which can influence the design process of mechanical structures and it presents a number of commonly adopted techniques for trouble-shooting vibration problems.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Disciplinary Specific Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Interpret the behaviour of vibrating systems through an understanding of basic principles and the role of mass, stiffness and damping.
  • Select appropriate techniques for the solution of analytical problems in vibrations.
  • Undertake measurement of vibration quantities and measure modes of vibration on a simple structure
  • Describe the behaviour of structures by modal and wave approaches.
  • Develop the equations of motion for free and forced vibration of simple systems.
  • Show understanding of the benefits and limitations of basic vibration control methods


1. Introduction (2 sessions) Vibration problems in engineering. Terminology. Basic principles. 2. Single degree of freedom system (6 sessions) Free vibration of mass-spring system: natural frequency. Free vibration with damping: damping factor. Energy methods. Time harmonic forced vibration: resonance. Isolation, base excitation and other applications. Structural damping. Transient vibration; response to transient excitation; Duhamel’s Integral; forced vibration with various loads including earthquake; impulse response. 3. Multiple degree of freedom systems (4 sessions) Free vibration of two degree of freedom systems: developing stiffness and mass matrices for lumped parameter systems, modes of vibration, natural frequencies and mode shapes. Multiple degree of freedom systems: matrix methods. Time harmonic forced vibration with damping: modal decomposition. Time domain solutions. Multi-storey structure. Introduction to vibration treatment and dynamic vibration absorbers. 4. Modelling methods (3 sessions) Rayleigh’s method. Lagrange’s equations for free undamped vibration. Applications. Finite Element Method (FEM) basis. 5. Continuous systems (6 sessions) Free vibrations of strings, bars and shafts: equation of motion, boundary conditions. Modes of vibration: natural frequencies and mode shapes. Bending vibration of beams. Forced vibration of continuous systems: modes and resonance. Introduction to structural wave motion in one dimension: propagation, reflection and transmission; coincidence. 6. Fundamentals of Vibration Control (5 sessions) Sources of vibration. Mobility/Impedance Methods. Vibration Isolation: mobility approach, energy considerations. . Vibration Damping (different types of damping, viscoelastic damping, damping treatments, measurements of damping). 7. Vibration measurement and analysis (Lab sessions) Vibration transducers and measurement of frequency response functions and modal damping.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

This is a one-semester module, three lectures per week with two laboratory sessions. The students are provided with copies of the lecture notes. These include problems worked through in class to demonstrate problem formulation and solution, and the thought processes involved. Students are encouraged to discuss difficulties informally with the lecturer. Additional tutorials are provided throughout the duration of the course as preparation for the examination. One-to-one assistance and verbal feedback is facilitated through four tutorial classes. Past exam papers are supplied to aid personal study, feedback and revision. Blackboard is used to allow the lectures and additional material to be disseminated (including solutions to past exam papers). The students have to write-up two laboratory reports. Students are encouraged to read supporting texts and a booklist is provided. Laboratory classes: ‘Multi storey structure’ and ‘Beam Vibration Measurement’. The laboratory classes will be supervised by a member of academic staff or a suitably qualified postgraduate student. The classes will be restricted to 2-4 students per rig. Students need to work in their own time to complete the laboratory work and are able to go to the lecturer for assistance. Feedback on laboratory reports will be returned to the student normally within three weeks of the submission deadline. A laboratory sheet provides instructions, information and assistance with the experimental procedure. Feedback to students during module study is obtained by: • Tutorial assistance to cover issues raised through example sheets • Informal contact with lecturer encouraged after lectures and at other times. • Model answers to selected problems are provided. • Solution notes and comments to selected problems are made available. • Previous examination papers with model answers are made available. • Laboratory class provides informal assessment through individual interaction. • Exam: formal written feedback after exam

Completion of assessment task24
Supervised time in studio/workshop6
Total study time150



MethodPercentage contribution
Continuous Assessment 20%
Final Assessment  80%


MethodPercentage contribution
Set Task 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Set Task 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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