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UCL Mechanical Engineering
Faculty of Engineering Sciences


MECH303P Advanced Thermodynamics and Fluid Mechanics

The module consists of two thematic and overlapping areas – thermodynamics and fluid mechanics. The topics that will be taught include:


  1. Sources of Energy
  2. Other Renewable Energy
  3. Exergy Analysis
  4. Further Combustion Theory

Fluid Mechanics:

  1. Normal/Oblique Shocks
  2. Expansion fans
  3. One-dimensional flow in pipes
  4. Forces on aerofoils
Code: MECH303P
Alt Codes: None
Title: Advanced Thermodynamics and Fluid Mechanics
UCL Credits/ECTS: 0.5/7.5
Start: September
End: April


  • MECH203P Intermediate Thermodynamics and Fluid Mechanics

Method of Instruction

Each lecture will consist of describing the conceptual framework and where appropriate model calculations to support the concept being demonstrated in either thermodynamics or mechanics of fluids. The course is fundamentally structured around the template for having 8 key topics which maps on to the exam paper (which will consist of 8 questions, split into 2 sections, with students requiring to answer 5). Each topic will be split equally and supported by 3 lectures and 2 solution sessions. The solution sessions and Moodle chat site will provide the forum to discuss the work. As with the Provosts direction of research led teaching – the link between this work and the impact from Mechanical Engineering will be highlighted.

We are emphasizing the use of novel methods to cement concepts and consolidate learning. These can be in many different forms, including lecture room based demonstrations for the physical principles (either in the lecture) or other ways (for example, podcasts).

We have trialed using essays as tools to develop students’ interests in this subject. One short essay will be prepared at the start of the 1st term that will cover the importance of thermodynamics and fluid mechanics in our daily lives. Two individual problem based course work assessments will be required at the end of the first and second terms.


The course will have the following assessment components:

  • Examination (3 hours) (75%)
  • Coursework (25%)

To pass this course students must:

  • Obtain an overall pass mark of 40% for all sections combined.



This module covers the techniques necessary to create mathematical and computerised models of systems typically comprising mechanisms, motors and sensors. Many examples are included and updated frequently to reflect recent current affairs including large aircraft control systems, vehicle suspensions, motorised positioning systems e.g. for 3D printing.

  • Modelling of dynamic systems using linear Laplace transfer functions.
  • Lumped parameter models.
  • Accounting for non-linearity in models.
  • Numerical methods of simulation, e.g. using Matlab / Simulink.
  • Single-Input-Single-Output models.

Dynamic techniques, fundamentals of vibration

Models are used to analyse the dynamic behaviour of systems, predicting speed of response, stability and common vibratory / oscillatory problems in engineering. This section involves assessing and measuring noise, vibration and rapid motions.

  • Free vibration of single degree of freedom mass-spring system: natural frequency.
  • Free vibration of damped oscillator; different types of damping.
  • Forced response of single degree of freedom systems.
  • Transient vibration.
  • Application: Base excitation and vibration isolators.
  • Calculating frequency response from Laplace Transfer Function models.
  • Measuring frequency response and identifying a system model from experimental data.
  • Analogue to digital interfacing: sample rate (including effects of time-delay lag on stability)

Multiple degree of freedom systems

The methods above are extended to include multi-degree of freedom systems, using the State Space matrix method.  In vibrating structures, the concepts of mode shape and modal analysis are introduced and investigated experimentally.

  • State Space modelling techniques for multi degree-of-freedom systems.
  • Free vibration of two degree of freedom systems.
  • Mode shapes and natural frequencies.
  • Multiple degree of freedom systems: modal decomposition.
  • Time harmonic forced vibration with damping.
  • Rayleigh’s method. Lagrange’s equations for free undamped vibration.
  • Continuous systems, string, bars and beams, free and forced vibration.

Controller Design

The module extends the controller design techniques developed in MECH202P, considering analytical approaches to improving the speed of response and stabilising inherently unstable systems including high performance (autonomous) aircraft.

These techniques are investigated in the laboratory which involves balancing an inverted (upside-down) pendulum.

  • Root-locus methods of controller design (stabilising unstable systems).
  • Frequency response stability analysis (margins of stability).
  • PID & other controller types.
  • Measurement techniques.
  • Control system hardware and practical implementation.

MECH303P Advanced Thermodynamics and Fluid Mechanics

General Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of this module students should be able to:

  • Understand and be able to work with advanced applications in thermodynamics and fluid mechanics
  • Have an appreciation of practical limits and constrains pertinent to thermodynamics and fluid mechanic applications.
  • Identify and define the requirements, constraints and design parameters of a project that involve a thermodynamics/fluid component;
  • Generate concepts, exercise critical thinking, implement a methodology to compare ideas and use engineering judgement to choose a viable solution in this context;
  • Gain knowledge and apply the design process, mathematics and engineering analysis to the development and creation of integrated engineering solutions within the remit of the course and through the use of combined disciplines or sub-disciplines as required;
  • Understand the wide use and important of mechanics of fluids and thermodynamics in their future professional lives
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