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Unit of study_

CIVL5458: Numerical Methods in Civil Engineering

Semester 1, 2024 [Normal day] - Camperdown/Darlington, Sydney

The objective of this unit is to provide students with fundamental knowledge of finite element analysis and how to apply this knowledge to the solution of civil engineering problems at intermediate and advanced levels. At the end of this unit, students should acquire knowledge of methods of formulating finite element equations, basic element types, the use of finite element methods for solving problems in structural, geotechnical and continuum analysis and the use of finite element software packages. The syllabus comprises introduction to finite element theory, analysis of bars, beams and columns, and assemblages of these structural elements; analysis of elastic continua; problems of plane strain, plane stress and axial symmetry; use, testing and validation of finite element software packages; and extensions to apply this knowledge to problems encountered in engineering practice. On completion of this unit, students will have gained the following knowledge and skills: 1. Knowledge of methods of formulating finite element equations. This will provide students with an insight into the principles at the basis of the FE elements available in commercial FE software. 2. Knowledge of basic element types. Students will be able to evaluate the adequacy of different elements in providing accurate and reliable results. 3. Knowledge of the use of finite element methods for solving problems in structural and geotechnical engineering applications. Students will be exposed to some applications to enable them to gain familiarity with FE analyses. 4. Knowledge of the use of finite element programming and modeling. 5. Extended knowledge of the application of FE to solve civil engineering problems.

Unit details and rules

Unit code CIVL5458
Academic unit Civil Engineering
Credit points 6
Assumed knowledge


Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff

Coordinator Francois Guillard,
Lecturer(s) Mani Khezri,
Francois Guillard,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Tutorial quiz Quiz
Demonstrate understanding of numerical analysis concepts
20% Week 05 2h
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO3 LO2
Assignment One dimensional finite element analysis
Coding of a one-dimensional finite element problem.
25% Week 08
Due date: 16 Apr 2024 at 23:59
2 weeks
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO7
Presentation group assignment Project presentation
Presentation of the final project work.
20% Week 13 20 min
Outcomes assessed: LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6
Assignment group assignment Final project report
Finite element analysis of an authentic structure.
35% Week 13 Max 10p
Outcomes assessed: LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7
group assignment = group assignment ?

Assessment summary

See above for assessment list.

Assessment criteria

The University awards common result grades, set out in the Coursework Policy 2014 (Schedule 1).

As a general guide, a high distinction indicates work of an exceptional standard, a distinction a very high standard, a credit a good standard, and a pass an acceptable standard.

Result name

Mark range


High distinction

85 - 100



75 - 84



65 - 74



50 - 64



0 - 49

When you don’t meet the learning outcomes of the unit to a satisfactory standard.

For more information see

For more information see guide to grades.

Late submission

In accordance with University policy, these penalties apply when written work is submitted after 11:59pm on the due date:

  • Deduction of 5% of the maximum mark for each calendar day after the due date.
  • After ten calendar days late, a mark of zero will be awarded.

This unit has an exception to the standard University policy or supplementary information has been provided by the unit coordinator. This information is displayed below:

Late penalties follow the University of Sydney policy of -5%/late day.

Academic integrity

The Current Student website  provides information on academic integrity and the resources available to all students. The University expects students and staff to act ethically and honestly and will treat all allegations of academic integrity breaches seriously.  

We use similarity detection software to detect potential instances of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breach. If such matches indicate evidence of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breaches, your teacher is required to report your work for further investigation.

You may only use artificial intelligence and writing assistance tools in assessment tasks if you are permitted to by your unit coordinator, and if you do use them, you must also acknowledge this in your work, either in a footnote or an acknowledgement section.

Studiosity is permitted for postgraduate units unless otherwise indicated by the unit coordinator. The use of this service must be acknowledged in your submission.

Simple extensions

If you encounter a problem submitting your work on time, you may be able to apply for an extension of five calendar days through a simple extension.  The application process will be different depending on the type of assessment and extensions cannot be granted for some assessment types like exams.

Special consideration

If exceptional circumstances mean you can’t complete an assessment, you need consideration for a longer period of time, or if you have essential commitments which impact your performance in an assessment, you may be eligible for special consideration or special arrangements.

Special consideration applications will not be affected by a simple extension application.

Using AI responsibly

Co-created with students, AI in Education includes lots of helpful examples of how students use generative AI tools to support their learning. It explains how generative AI works, the different tools available and how to use them responsibly and productively.

Support for students

The Support for Students Policy 2023 reflects the University’s commitment to supporting students in their academic journey and making the University safe for students. It is important that you read and understand this policy so that you are familiar with the range of support services available to you and understand how to engage with them.

The University uses email as its primary source of communication with students who need support under the Support for Students Policy 2023. Make sure you check your University email regularly and respond to any communications received from the University.

Learning resources and detailed information about weekly assessment and learning activities can be accessed via Canvas. It is essential that you visit your unit of study Canvas site to ensure you are up to date with all of your tasks.

If you are having difficulties completing your studies, or are feeling unsure about your progress, we are here to help. You can access the support services offered by the University at any time:

Support and Services (including health and wellbeing services, financial support and learning support)
Course planning and administration
Meet with an Academic Adviser

WK Topic Learning activity Learning outcomes
Week 01 Introduction to numerical methods. Stress and strain in continua, plane elasticity, strength of materials Lecture and tutorial (4 hr) LO1 LO2
Week 02 Fundamentals of linear algebra for mechanical problems. General numerical integration methods. Lecture and tutorial (4 hr) LO1 LO2
Week 03 Solving mechanical problems with numerical methods. Lecture and tutorial (4 hr) LO1 LO2
Week 04 Finite Elements concepts and fundamentals. Lecture and tutorial (4 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3
Week 06 One dimensional elements: bar, beam. Lecture and tutorial (4 hr) LO3 LO4 LO5
Week 07 Beams and Frames. Lecture and tutorial (4 hr) LO3 LO4 LO5
Week 08 Bending of beams and plates Lecture and tutorial (4 hr) LO3 LO4 LO5
Week 09 Elastic solutions and isoparametric elements Lecture and tutorial (4 hr) LO3 LO4 LO5
Week 10 Isoparametric elements Lecture and tutorial (4 hr) LO3 LO4 LO5
Week 11 Dynamic of structures Lecture and tutorial (4 hr) LO3 LO4 LO5
Week 12 Three dimensional elements and structures Lecture and tutorial (4 hr) LO3 LO4 LO5
Week 13 Conclusion, project presentations and discussions Lecture and tutorial (4 hr) LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7

Attendance and class requirements

Lectures and tutorials are compulsory.

Study commitment

Typically, there is a minimum expectation of 1.5-2 hours of student effort per week per credit point for units of study offered over a full semester. For a 6 credit point unit, this equates to roughly 120-150 hours of student effort in total.

Required readings

Suggested reading:

·      T.R Chandrupatla, A.D Belegundu, Introduction to Finite Elements in Engineering (Fourth Edition). New Jersey, USA, Pearson, 2012. 0-13-216274-1.

·      Daryl L. Logan, A First Course in the Finite Element Method (Fifth Edition). Stanford, USA, Cengage Learning, 2012. 0-495-66827-3. Theoretical Manual - Theoretical background to the Strand7, finite element analysis system (Edition 1). Sydney, Australia, Strand7, 2005. 0-957-73452-2.

·      J. N. Reddy, An Introduction to the Finite Element Method (Fourth Edition).  McGraw-Hill, 2018.

·      Using Strand7 - Introduction to the Strand7 Finite Element Analysis System (3). Sydney, Strand7, 2010. 0-646-37288-2.

·      Strand7 Webnotes.  Please browse the webnotes and  request pdf  to the lecturer.

Learning outcomes are what students know, understand and are able to do on completion of a unit of study. They are aligned with the University's graduate qualities and are assessed as part of the curriculum.

At the completion of this unit, you should be able to:

  • LO1. understand and code fundamental algorithms for numerical resolutions
  • LO2. solve simple engineering problems using the appropriate numerical algorithm
  • LO3. formulate equations based on the principles at the basis of the FE elements
  • LO4. model and solve civil engineering problems by using Finite Element software
  • LO5. evaluate the adequacy of different element types in providing accurate and reliable results
  • LO6. interpret Finite Element analysis results via oral presentations and question and answer sessions
  • LO7. write technical reports on Finite Element analysis

Graduate qualities

The graduate qualities are the qualities and skills that all University of Sydney graduates must demonstrate on successful completion of an award course. As a future Sydney graduate, the set of qualities have been designed to equip you for the contemporary world.

GQ1 Depth of disciplinary expertise

Deep disciplinary expertise is the ability to integrate and rigorously apply knowledge, understanding and skills of a recognised discipline defined by scholarly activity, as well as familiarity with evolving practice of the discipline.

GQ2 Critical thinking and problem solving

Critical thinking and problem solving are the questioning of ideas, evidence and assumptions in order to propose and evaluate hypotheses or alternative arguments before formulating a conclusion or a solution to an identified problem.

GQ3 Oral and written communication

Effective communication, in both oral and written form, is the clear exchange of meaning in a manner that is appropriate to audience and context.

GQ4 Information and digital literacy

Information and digital literacy is the ability to locate, interpret, evaluate, manage, adapt, integrate, create and convey information using appropriate resources, tools and strategies.

GQ5 Inventiveness

Generating novel ideas and solutions.

GQ6 Cultural competence

Cultural Competence is the ability to actively, ethically, respectfully, and successfully engage across and between cultures. In the Australian context, this includes and celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, knowledge systems, and a mature understanding of contemporary issues.

GQ7 Interdisciplinary effectiveness

Interdisciplinary effectiveness is the integration and synthesis of multiple viewpoints and practices, working effectively across disciplinary boundaries.

GQ8 Integrated professional, ethical, and personal identity

An integrated professional, ethical and personal identity is understanding the interaction between one’s personal and professional selves in an ethical context.

GQ9 Influence

Engaging others in a process, idea or vision.

Outcome map

Learning outcomes Graduate qualities

This section outlines changes made to this unit following staff and student reviews.

Update to course material and delivery with new coordinator.


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