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The University of Southampton

SESG6039 Composites Engineering Design and Mechanics

Module Overview

This module provides an in depth coverage of the mechanics of fibre-reinforced polymer materials and structures. The core of the course encompass modelling of the 2D orthotropic lamina reduced from 3D continuum mechanics for anisotropic solids, classical laminate theory and the assumption of orthotropic material behaviour, structural modelling of composite beams and plates, and consideration of damage and prediction of failure. The students will gain an understanding of the deformation and failure behaviour of composite materials and structures through application to specific design applications in project work. The concepts of damage and failure will be introduced along with details of assessing material behaviour through mechanical testing and microscopic evaluations. A laboratory class will introduce the effects of manufacturing processes and material construction. Assignments based on the laboratory will enable student to analyse and predict the behaviour of specific materials configurations using a rational mechanics based approach.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

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

  • An in-depth understanding of the overall topical area of composite materials including their properties, manufacturing, analysis and design.
  • Applications of composites: past, present and future.
  • Fibres and polymer resin materials: types and properties
  • Manufacturing methods, their processing characteristics and influence on the mechanical properties of composites
  • Laminae and laminates: micro-mechanical models, modelling of the laminae, classical laminate theory
  • Fracture and failure.
  • Modelling of layered composite beam and plate structures.
  • Sandwich structures.
  • Introduction to joining of composite materials.
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Appreciate properties of modern composite materials and factors which determine their use.
  • Demonstrate understanding of mechanics of composite materials and structures, fracture and failure mechanisms as applied to simple component design.
  • Demonstrate understanding of the factors involved in selecting manufacturing processes.
  • Be able to apply concepts, theories and methods for analysis and design of composite structures to real-life applications.
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • To apply theory to solve practical problems.
  • Apply a selection procedure.
  • Optimise a problem.
  • Report writing.
  • Searching literature.
Subject Specific Practical Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Apply understanding of composite theory to simple component design.
  • Select an appropriate manufacturing method for a composite component.
  • Understand the steps involved to manufacture a simple laminate.
  • Understand testing procedures to obtain material properties for analysis.


The structure of the module is as follows: Modern composite materials: Revision of fibres, matrix, thermosetting and thermoplastic resins. Mechanics and design: Concepts-anisotropic materials, tensor notation. Elastic behaviour and strength of a single lamina. Determining material properties by mechanical testing and micromechanical approaches. Multidirectional laminates CLT. Structural analysis of laminated beams and plates. Stress and failure analysis and damage mechanics of simple component. Introduction to sandwich structures. Introduction to joining methods for composite materials and structures. Manufacture: Introduction to manufacturing processes, including contact moulding, resin infusion, resin transfer moulding, filament winding, vacuum bag/autoclave. The process variables are identified and their effect upon the quality, properties and economics discussed. Joining and machining. Applications: Case studies from aerospace, automotive, energy, infrastructure and marine sectors.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include: • lectures laboratory classes = 14 additional slots on timetable • tutorial workshops • presentation sessions • One to one sessions on project work = 4 additional lecture slots Learning activities include: • Review questions which are intended for (small group) self-study. • Quizzes and tests on Blackboard. • Project work for coursework assignment from Aerospace, Mechanical and Marine sectors. • Individual laboratory based assignment and analysis.

Wider reading or practice20
Follow-up work35
Preparation for scheduled sessions12
Project supervision2
Supervised time in studio/workshop2
Practical classes and workshops2
Completion of assessment task50
Total study time150


Assessment Strategy

Referral method - Normally the referral for this module consists of resubmission of the coursework/s on laboratory work and individual assignments, with the mark on Coursework Group project unchanged from the first attempt. In case the mark for the Coursework Group project is below the qualifying mark and alternative referralassignment will be provided. External repeat of this module is only possible if the Coursework Group project has been passed at the qualifying mark.




MethodPercentage contribution
Continuous Assessment 60%
Final Assessment  40%


MethodPercentage contribution
Set Task 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

Linked modules

Pre-requisites: FEEG2005

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