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The University of Southampton

SESM1016 Mechanical Systems Analysis

Module Overview

This module builds upon the technical content of the other first year modules and develops skills needed for the professional application of Mechanical Engineering. The ability to solve new challenges through innovation and through application of scientific methods and technical analysis is the heart of Mechanical Engineering. Future Mechanical Engineers will face enormously important and diverse challenges that are difficult to anticipate, and will need to be able to develop their skillset throughout their career. The first part of this module introduces the professional context of Mechanical Engineering and starts the individual process of identifying and developing relevant skills through reflective practice. The second part of this module develops skills concerning the application of engineering analysis to practical mechanical systems. In particular, the ability to frame engineering problems so that relatively simple analysis, practical insight and intuition can be used to generate innovative solutions is developed through a serious of case studies.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

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

  • The roles and responsibilities of professional Mechanical Engineers, including identification and discussion of ethical issues arising in case studies;
  • Entrepreneurship, innovation and the knowledge economy.
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Analyse engineering challenges and devise engineering objectives in a way that facilitates innovation;
  • Develop simplified mathematical models in order to analyse real mechanical systems, justifying approximations and acknowledging their limitations;
  • Critically assess the use of analytical and computational models, explaining relevant uncertainties in the modelling;
  • Devise and plan experiments and laboratory tests in support of achieving an engineering objective, including the use of dimensional analysis to relate laboratory tests to practical systems;
  • Obtain knowledge from primary scientific literature.
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Analyse your own skillset and the competencies you will need, then identify and pursue opportunities for professional development;
  • Deliver technical presentations tailored to your audience, using appropriate presentation aides;
  • Identify ways to enhance the success of teams in decision making and problem solving;
Subject Specific Practical Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Conduct analysis spanning more than one engineering subject area in order to support design and investment decisions;
  • Identify ways to analyse complex mechanical systems in the real world, considering aspects of system dynamics, structure, materials, fluid flow, energy, electrical and electronic sub-systems, and the economic and environmental context.


Semester 1 • Introduction to the module - Assignment introduction • Future perspectives in Mechanical Engineering • Communication skills: writing, log book, poster and presentations • Personal development planning • Ethics in Engineering • Creativity and entrepreneurial behaviour • Personal development planning • The Knowledge economy • Thinking like an Engineer: estimates, assumptions, and graphing guidelines. Semester 2 • Analytical approaches: - Analysis of complex real-world systems - Techno-economic evaluation - Literature review - Experimental design - Mathematical modelling, assumptions and model reduction - Computational modelling, model verification, model validation - Application of fundamental aspects of thermo-fluids, structures, materials, dynamics, electrical, computation and design. • Case studies, including: - Aircraft structural design - Exhaust energy recovery - Offshore energy systems

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include: The core material in the module is taught through lectures and laboratory demonstrations. The lecture material is also supported through problem-based learning. Students will participate in formative individual and group-work activities that will develop a range of skills necessary for a Professional Engineer and explore the relevance of navigating scientific literature to arrive at educated engineering judgements for mechanical systems analysis. Semester 1 – Individual assignment (1500 words): • Critically evaluate your professional skills, practice and development; • Discuss/reflect on what general principles regarding being a professional engineer might be derived from your experiences in taking part in this module and how you might apply these principles later in your career; • Discuss/reflect on whether and how your experience of taking part in this module has influenced your assumptions on the meaning of being a professional engineer and the implications this might have for your own future practice and development. Semester 2 – Three group assignments to be conducted, one for each case study section: Three timetabled slots in Semester 2 will be used for tutorial groups to verbally present their proposed approaches to the case studies via handouts and powerpoint presentations and to allow the personal tutors to give detailed feedback on the group’s approaches to addressing the detailed case studies in Semester 2. This will give students a valuable opportunity to work together in learning groups to understand how to approach mechanical engineering systems problems in the way that the final (individual) mechanical systems analysis take-home summative assessment for this module will require. Learning Activities • Lectures • Laboratory classes • Timetabled tutorial slots in Semester 1 and 2 • Problem-based learning • Tutorials • Individual assignments within case studies/mini-projects • Group based case study analysis • Giving a presentation • Interactive classroom work • Private research and study

Completion of assessment task4
External visits2
Wider reading or practice76
Preparation for scheduled sessions7
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

E. Payne and L. Whittaker (2000). Developing Essential Study Skills. 

G.D. Baura (2006). Engineering Ethics: An Industrial Perspective. 

J. van Emden (2001). Effective Communication for Science and Technology. 

W.D. Callister (2011). Materials Science and Engineering. 

A. Azapagic, S. Perdan, R. Clift (2004). Sustainable Development in Practice: Case Studies for Engineers and Scientists,. 

J.R. Lowe (2003). Ethics in Engineering Design. 


Assessment Strategy

The learning outcomes of this module will be assessed under the Part I Assessment Schedule for FEE Engineering Programmes which forms an Appendix to your Programme Specification. Feedback will be available on the formative work undertaken during the module.


MethodPercentage contribution
Part I Assessment Schedule 100%
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