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The University of Southampton

SESA2023 Propulsion

Module Overview

This module introduces the fundamental principles of aircraft propulsion, and covers air-breathing and rocket propulsion systems. The module focuses on the analysis and determination of thrust and performance criteria for propulsion systems such as ramjets, turbo-jets, turbo-fans and rockets. Three laboratory sessions complement 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:

  • Typical propulsion system mechanical configurations and their performance indicators. (T,AE, AC)
  • Propulsion system modules and the functional role of each subsystem in detail (T,AE, AC)
  • The role of major suppliers and industrial application of such systems (T,AE, AC)
  • The configuration of typical commercial engines and relation to their application (T,AE, AC)
  • The architecture of launch vehicles and the role of various rocket motor stages (T,AE, AC)
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Calculate fundamental performance indicators of an entire engine (such as specific thrust and specific fuel consumption) for given flight regime, engine design parameters, and performance indicators of the engine components (such as the flight Mach number, compressor pressure ratio, and turbine efficiency etc.) (T,AE,AC)
  • Evaluate intuitively how, and explain why variations in the flight regime, design parameters and components performance affect the overall performance of a system.(T.AE,AC)
  • differentiate rocket engine cycle designs and relate this to performance requirements (T. AE, AC)
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 propulsion design


Fundamentals - The Role of Propulsion Systems - Cycle analysis & evolutionary trends in propulsion - Control volume derivation of the thrust equation - Measures of thermal and propulsive efficiency - Engine mechanical configurations Airbreathing Engines Cycle Analysis - Ramjet - Turbojet - Turbofan - Turboprop Chemical and Electric Rocket Engines - Rocket power cycles - Launch vehicles - In-space propulsion systems Revision Laboratory sessions 1) Ramjet demonstration 2) Turbo-jet gas turbine experiment 3) Rocket experiment

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods will include lectures, tutorial classes, and laboratory demonstrations. Learning activities include directed reading, problem solving, report writing.

Independent Study114
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Hill & Peterson (1992). Mechanics & Thermodynamics of Propulsion. 

NASA Website.

N.A. Cumpsty (1997). Jet Propulsion. 

The Jet Engine Rolls-Royce plc. 

R.D.Archer and M.Saarlas (1996). An Introduction to Aerospace Propulsion. 



Laboratory Report


MethodPercentage contribution
Examination  (120 minutes) 90%
Laboratory Report 10%


MethodPercentage contribution
Examination 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Examination 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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