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The University of Southampton

SESM6047 Finite Element Analysis in Solid Mechanics

Module Overview

This module is aimed at providing the requisite background in solid mechanics and structural vibration. Then, the module concentrates on solving this problem by introducing the Finite Element Method, aiming at providing an understanding of fundamental knowledge and technique of FEM developing tools to analyse engineering problems using FEM and typical commercial FEA package. This module should not be taken if you have already completed FEEG3001.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

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

  • Variational principles in statics and dynamics of structure (SM1m, EA1m)
  • Fundamental concepts and method of FEA (SM1m, EA1m)
  • Direct stiffness, Rayleigh-Ritz methods and FEA. (SM1m)
  • FEA formulation in solid mechanics. (SM5m, EA1m)
  • Fundamental isoparametric elements. (SM2m, EA1m)
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Formulate finite element matrices variationally.(P1m)
  • Analyse, build and critically evaluate FEA models for various engineering problems.(SM3m, EA3m, EA6m)
  • Identify information requirements and sources for design and evaluation.(D3m, D4m)
  • Synthesise information and ideas for use in the evaluation process.(D2m, D3m, D7m, P10m)
Subject Specific Practical Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Choose a commercial FEA software to solve practical problems through workshops and a design assignment. (P2b, P9m)


1. General introduction, objectives The general continuous solid mechanics: - Variational principle in mechanics. Priniciple of minimum total potential energy. Hamilton's Principle. - Lagrange's equations in dynamics of mechanical systems. - A brief review of normal modes and natural frequencies in multi-degree-of-freedom discrete systems. - Constitutive equations: an overview Finite Element Analysis: - Application of the principle of minimum potential energy to approximate solution of elasticity problems Rayleigh-Ritz Method in statics. - Derivation of equations of motion and FE matrices in structural dynamics. - General FE formulation: aspects of derivation of the element matrices, assembly, application of boundary conditions, solution procedures. - Practical aspects of the use of FE codes: pre- and post-processing. The use of commercial codes e.g. ANSYS. - Finite Element Formulation for 1D elastic continua (rods, shafts, strings): statics and dynamics - FE formulation for trusses in 2D: coordinate transformations - Beam bending elements. Statics and dynamics. - Constant Strain Triangle (CST) elements for plane stress and plane strain, axi-symmetric elements. - 2D Quadrilateral elements - Isoparametric FE formulations. - Element selection

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include: Lectures Class discussions Practical FEA model presentation ANSYS computer laboratory sessions (ANSYS not available on VPN) Learning activities include: Directed reading, Assignment, Example exercises and writing of laboratory report Independent learning to use FEA software on computers

Independent Study115
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

K.J. Bathe ((1996).). Finite Element Procedures in Engineering Analysis.. 

I.H. Shames and C.L. Dym ((1985).). Energy and Finite Element Methods in Structural Mechanics.. 

R.D. Cook ((1981).). Concepts and Applications of Finite Element Analysis.. 


Assessment Strategy

A balanced mix of the theoretical and practical aspects of a tool commonly used in engineering design, with an extended case study coursework assignment.


MethodPercentage contribution
Continuous Assessment 30%
Final Assessment  70%


MethodPercentage contribution
Set Task 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

Linked modules

Pre-requisite: FEEG2005

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