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The University of Southampton

SESM3035 Automotive Chassis and Powertrain

Module Overview

This module will first be offered in 2021/22. This module introduces students to the design of safe and eco-friendly vehicles for road transportation in the twenty-first century. Different aspects of design and operation of modern automobile systems will be discussed, including vehicle performance, handling, and ride.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

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

  • Understanding the contexts in which engineering knowledge can be applied: engineering principles of road vehicle dynamics (Contributing to AHEP LOs: SM1b, SM2b, EA1b, P1, P2)
  • The common typologies of suspensions and steering systems.(Contributing to AHEP LOs: SM1b, SM2b)
  • Gears and bearings (Contributing to AHEP LOs:SM1b, SM2b)
  • Clutches, torque converters, and differentials (Contributing to AHEP LOs: SM1b, SM2b)
  • Manual and automatic gearboxes. (Contributing to AHEP LOs: SM1b, SM2b)
  • Different typologies of traditional and hybrid powertrains and their underlying engineering principles. (Contributing to AHEP LOs:SM1b, SM2b, SM3b)
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Analyse and assess quantitatively vehicle performance, handling, and ride. (Contributing to AHEP LOs: SM3b, EA3b).
  • Apply quantitative and computational methods to assess performance and stability of road vehicles. to design improvements, using advanced problem solving skills to establish rigorous and creative solutions, that are fit for purpose for all aspects of the problem, including production, operation, maintenance and disposal. (Contributing to AHEP LOs:EA1b, EA3b, D4)
  • Identify, classify and describe the performance of different typologies of suspension systems through the use of analytical methods and modelling techniques. (Contributing to AHEP LOs: EA1b, EA2).
  • Understanding of, and an ability to apply an integrated systems approach in the functional design of gear trains and gearboxes. (Contributing to AHEP LOs: EA4b)
  • Work with information that may be incomplete or uncertain and quantify the effect of this on design, ability to work with technical uncertainty. (Contributing to AHEP LOs:D3b, P8)
  • Use fundamental knowledge to investigate new and emerging technologies in automotive chassis and powertrain design.(Contributing to AHEP LOs: EA5m)
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Listening, identifying learning needs, evaluating sources and data, interpretation of data, problem solving, problem analysis. (Contributing to AHEP LO: G1)


Automotive Chassis An introduction to vehicle dynamics and automotive chassis, including • Tyres characteristics and performance • Vehicle performance: traction & braking • Handling and stability: steady cornering, lateral dynamics & stability • Road holding and comfort: suspensions, chassis vibration isolation Powertrain An introduction to automotive powertrain, including • Engine vibrations • Clutches • Torque Converters • Gears & Bearings • Gear trains and planetary gear trains • Manual and automated gearboxes, CVT • Differential gearboxes • An overview of Hybrid Electric Vehicles & powertrain

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include • Lectures including examples and guest lectures • Demonstrations and video material when appropriate • Solutions to assigned problems Learning activities include • Individual reading of background material and course texts. • Work on examples, solutions provided. • Coursework assignments: to solve a design problem and produce a short report.

Independent Study111
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

J.E. Shigley, J.J. Uicker (1995). Theory of machines and mechanisms. 

M. Guiggiani:. The Science of Vehicle Dynamics. 

G. Rill (2011). Road Vehicle Dynamics: Fundamentals and Modelling. 

Naunheimer, H., Bertsche, B., Ryborz, J., Novak, W (2014). Automotive Transmissions: Fundamentals, Selection, Design and Application.. 

T. Gillespie (1992). Fundamentals of Vehicle Dynamics. 



MethodPercentage contribution
Examination 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Examination 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

Linked modules

Pre-Requisite: FEEG2002

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