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The University of Southampton

SESA2022 Aerodynamics

Module Overview

In this module the fundamental concepts of aerodynamics are introduced. The main focus is on inviscid, incompressible flow, but, viscous effects will be introduced in the latter part of the module. The lectures are complemented by laboratory sessions with relevance to the taught material.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

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

  • A comprehensive knowledge and understanding of the scientific principles and methodology necessary to underpin their education in Aeronautics and Astronautics, to enable appreciation of the scientific and engineering context, and to support your understanding of relevant historical, current and future developments and technologies
  • Ability to use fundamental knowledge to investigate new and emerging technologies (EA5m)
  • Understanding of contexts in which engineering knowledge can be applied (eg operations and management, application and development of technology, etc) - P1
  • Ability to apply relevant practical and laboratory skills (P3m)
  • Understanding of the use of technical literature and other information sources - P4m
  • Ability to work with technical uncertainty (P8m)
  • Knowledge and understanding of mathematical and statistical methods necessary to underpin your education in Aeronautics and Astronautics, and to enable you to apply a range of mathematical and statistical methods, tools and notations proficiently and critically in the analysis and solution of engineering problems (SM2m)
  • Awareness of developing technologies related to Aeronautics and Astronautics (SM4m)
  • Understanding of engineering principles and the ability to apply them to analyse key engineering processes (EA1b)
  • Understanding of, and the ability to apply, an integrated or systems approach to solving complex engineering problems (EA4m)
  • Knowledge and understanding of risk issues, including health & safety, environmental and commercial risk, and of risk assessment and risk management techniques (EL6b)
  • Understanding of contexts in which engineering knowledge can be applied (eg operations and management, application and development of technology, etc) - P1m
  • Ability to apply quantitative and computational methods, in order to solve engineering problems and implement appropriate action (EA3b)
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Ability to identify, classify and describe the performance of systems and components through the use of analytical methods and modelling techniques (EA2m)


Introduction: Fundamental concepts: Velocity field, streamlines & streamfunctions, Euler's & Bernoulli's equations, vorticity & irrotational flow, velocity potential, role of Laplace equation. Flow elements and superposition: Uniform stream, source/sink, line vortex, uniform flow with source, Rankine oval, flow around circular cylinder/doublet, circulation, lifting flow over circular cylinder and Kutta-Joukowski theorem, Kutta condition, method of images. Thin Aerofoil Theory: Vortex sheets, flat plate aerofoil (Glauert intergral, lift-versus-angle of attack, aerodynamic centre & centre of pressure), cambered aerofoil (lift-versus-angle of attack), surface loading/pressure distribution. Finite Wing Theory: Downwash & induced drag, Biot-Savart law, bound vorticity, horseshoe vortex, classical lifting line theory, application to elliptic & general wing planforms. Introduction to viscous flow: Aerofoil flow regimes, types of boundary layers, integral properties of boundary layers, displacement thickness, momentum thickness & shape factor, momentum integral equation for a flat plate (MIE), power law approximations for turbulent boundary layers, drag on a flat plate for laminar and turbulent flow including transition. Laboratory sessions: 1) Boundary layer lab – measuring velocity profiles of laminar and turbulent boundary layers 2) CFD lab – application of commercial CFD software to flow over an aerofoil 3) Wind tunnel lab for an infinite wing – measuring pressure distribution and integrating it to estimate lift. 4) Wind tunnel lab for a finite wing - measuring lift and drag of a finite wing and assessing its performance

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods will include lectures, video tutorials, drop-in sessions and laboratory demonstrations. Learning activities include directed reading, problem solving, report writing.

Follow-up work12
Wider reading or practice36
Preparation for scheduled sessions4
Supervised time in studio/workshop12
Completion of assessment task12
Total study time148

Resources & Reading list

Anderson JD, Jr. (2011). Fundamentals of Aerodynamics. 



MethodPercentage contribution
Assignment  () 15%
Examination  (120 minutes) 75%
Laboratory Report 10%


MethodPercentage contribution
Examination  (120 minutes) 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

Linked modules

Pre-requisite: FEEG1003

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