Finite element analysis and application


Introduction to the theory of finite element analysis and its application in research and industry


The aim of this Module is to provide the student with : an understanding of the theoretical background of finite element analysis and an appreciation of the complexity of finite element analysis for practical use.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this module the student should be able to:

1.  Understand and evaluate the concepts of numerical analysis and governing equations

2.  Able to create and analyse finite element models for structural analysis based on structural and continuum elements

3.  Interpret results of the analyses and assess error levels

4.  Critically evaluate the constraints and implications imposed by the finite element method.

5.  Understand the theoretical background to the applications considered in the module

Indicative Content

1 Finite element method

• Background, history, applicability to different physics problems • Illustration of direct stiffness method based on 2 dimensional beam elements • Introduction to the Principle of Minimum Potential Energy • Development of Finite Element stiffness and mass matrix for a 2-dimensional membrane element • Isoparametric 1,2 and 3D elements • Numerical integration • Meshing and post processing considerations • Problems and errors associated with applying FEM to the solution of actual problems

2 Application

Application of the FE method in research e.g. the modelling of shell and plate buckling and the implementation of dynamic loading in FE

Statement on Teaching, Learning and Assessment

The module is delivered via a mixture of lectures and tutorials. The final weeks of the module are comprised of an advanced ABAQUS project, carried out in a computer lab

Teaching and Learning Work Loads

Total 200
Lecture 30
Tutorial/Seminar 30
Supervised Practical Activity 5
Unsupervised Practical Activity 0
Assessment 90
Independent 45

Guidance notes

Credit Value – The total value of SCQF credits for the module. 20 credits are the equivalent of 10 ECTS credits. A full-time student should normally register for 60 SCQF credits per semester.


We make every effort to ensure that the information on our website is accurate but it is possible that some changes may occur prior to the academic year of entry. The modules listed in this catalogue are offered subject to availability during academic year 2019/10 , and may be subject to change for future years.