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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 compressible and viscous effects will be introduced. 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:

  • The fundamentals of aerodynamics as applied to aircraft.
  • Potential flow theory and the principles by which potential flow concepts can be applied to predict the approximate behaviour of aerofoils and wings.
  • One-dimensional inviscid high-speed flow.
  • Laminar and turbulent boundary layers.
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Perform simple approximate calculations of combinations of flow elements.
  • Perform simple approximate calculations of aerofoil and finite wing characteristics.
  • Determine flow property variations across shock waves.
  • Specify flow properties within a converging/diverging nozzle under design and off-design conditions
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Study and learn independently.
  • Communicate work in written reports.
  • Demonstrate study and time management skills.
  • Solve problems systematically.
Subject Specific Practical Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Appreciate some of the technical issues associated with aerospace vehicle design


Introduction: Fundamental concepts: Velocity field, streamlines & streamfunctions, Euler's & Bernouilli'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 compressible flow: Introduction, review of thermodynamics concepts, isentropic flow, speed of sound, Mach number, stagnation conditions, sonic conditions, normal shock waves, entropy considerations. Internal flow: Internal flow with area change, converging-diverging nozzle, choked flow, design condition, critical pressure ratio & mass flowrate, effect of back pressure on nozzle flow. 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) Wind tunnel lab for an infinite and a finite wing – measuring pressure distribution, lift and drag. 2) CFD lab – application of commercial CFD software to flow over an aerofoil 3) Boundary layer lab – measuring velocity profiles of laminar and turbulent boundary layers 4) Nozzle lab – measuring pressure of supersonic flow in converging-diverging nozzle

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

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

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

Resources & Reading list

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



MethodPercentage contribution
Assignments and problem sheets  () 10%
Examination  (120 minutes) 75%
Laboratory Report 15%


MethodPercentage contribution
Examination  (120 minutes) 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

Linked modules

Pre-requisite: FEEG1003

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