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The University of Southampton

SESA6082 Computational Aerodynamics

Module Overview

This module is concerned with the physical modelling and numerical methods required for calculations of aerodynamic forces and moments on moving objects. It is not a package-based computational fluid dynamics module. Instead, it focuses on matching a numerical solution methodology to the flow phenomena that are present in fluid dynamics applications. The methods will include laminar and turbulent boundary layer calculations, instability analysis and models for transition to turbulence. Finite difference methods will be discussed in detail, including high order and compact schemes with numerical analysis of accuracy, stability and consistency, and compared to spectral methods. Turbulence models will be derived and contrasted with scale-resolving approaches such as large eddy simulations, where post-processing issues will be discussed. The module will include aerodynamic case studies and coursework exercises for students.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Plan self-learning to improve performance through a personal programme of work [G2] Work in groups on software-related projects [G1, G4]
Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Comprehensive knowledge and understanding of a range of numerical methods, physical models and analysis techniques relevant to aerodynamic design [SM1b, SM1m, SM2b, SM2m, SM5m, SM7M, SM8M] Understand key computational aerodynamic principles and be able to apply them for critical analysis of aerodynamic design [EA1b, EA1m, EA5m, EA6M] Ability to extract and evaluate pertinent data from simulations using alternative approaches and to apply data analysis techniques to unfamiliar problems [EA2, EA3, EA3m, EA7M, SM9M] Demonstrate awareness of developing technologies related to aerodynamic flow simulation and to use fundamental knowledge to investigate these technologies [SM4m, EA5m, P9m] Understand the basic principles of software engineering applied to aerodynamics calculations and be able to quantify the errors [D9M, P6] Demonstrate awareness of commercial constraints in the application of aerodynamic simulation techniques [P10m] Understand software-related issues of group working [P11m]


1. Fundamentals of aerodynamics. Lattice Boltzmann and Navier-Stokes approaches. 2. Analysis of finite difference and finite volume schemes. Stability and accuracy of explicit and implicit methods. Compact differencing and shock capturing. Spectral methods for flows with homogeneous directions. Method to solve a Poisson equation. 3. Boundary layers: laminar, transition-to-turbulence and turbulence modelling. Laminar similarity solutions and solution of Orr-Sommerfeld equation. Analysis of selected turbulence models. Marching schemes for the boundary-layer equations. Topical issues in unsteady applications and the treatment of transition. 4. Turbulence simulation: direct and large-eddy simulation, detached eddy simulation. Grid requirements and post-processing (including flow diagnostics and statistics). Accurate methods for incompressible and compressible governing equations. 5. Aerodynamics case studies. Review of open source software. 6. Revision.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods will include 36 lectures using a mix of slides and blackboard derivations, including class demonstrations of codes. Panopto recordings of the lectures along with the slide deck will be made available on Blackboard wherever possible. Further learning activities include directed reading and individual problem solving.

Completion of assessment task40
Wider reading or practice30
Total study time150



MethodPercentage contribution
Continuous Assessment 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

Linked modules

Pre-requisite: SESA3033 or FEEG6005

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