MEEN40150 Computational Continuum Mechanics II

Academic Year 2023/2024

This module introduces the field of computational continuum mechanics, including applied finite element and finite volume analysis, following a top-down (hands-on) approach, in contrast to MEEN40050, where a bottom-up approach is followed. The following topics form the basis of the module:
- Linking continuum mechanics theory with practice: understanding the link between the theory of the finite element and finite volume methods and their application in applied engineering analysis via the software Abaqus, ANSYS and OpenFOAM;
- Performing heat transfer, solid mechanics (linear and nonlinear), and fluid dynamics (laminar and turbulent) analyses;
- Setting up simulations: understanding the steps involved in setting up finite element and finite volume models, including defining the mathematical model (solution domain, material models, initial/boundary conditions), the run parameters (e.g. tolerances, time-step size, discretisation schemes), running a model, and post-processing the results;
- Understanding and quantifying errors: understanding and distinguishing between the different types of error present in a simulation, e.g. discretisation error and order of accuracy, linearisation/iteration error, mathematical modelling errors;
- Verification and validation of results;
- Unix and Linux environment: introducing Unix/Linux systems, running software through a terminal, and running Abaqus/Ansys/OpenFOAM models in parallel on a supercomputer.

The lecture sessions, providing the theory and analysis, are complemented by weekly laboratory sessions, providing the student with a hands-on experience of engineering simulation methods.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

At the completion of the module, the students should be able to:
1. Develop heat transfer and solid mechanics simulations using finite element software Abaqus;
2. Develop heat transfer and fluid dynamics simulations using finite volume software ANSYS and OpenFOAM;
3. Describe the underlying mathematical models (governing equations, boundary conditions, material models, ...) and discuss their limitations;
4. Understand how to verify and validate numerical results, and distinguish between verification and validation;
5. Explain the sources of error in finite element and finite volume simulations;
6. Setup and run finite element and finite volume analyses of real-life engineering problems, and justify the steps involved;
7. Clearly and concisely present the simulations in report form, including details of the modelling assumptions and setup, with insightful presentation of results.

Indicative Module Content:

- Hands-on application of the finite element and finite volume methods via the software Abaqus, Ansys Fluent and OpenFOAM;
- Understanding simulation errors: numerical errors (discretisation, iteration, rounding) and modelling errors (assumptions about the solution domain, initial/boundary conditions, and material models);
- Quantifying discretisation (mesh) errors via Richardson's extrapolation and the grid convergence index, and understanding the difference between accuracy and order of accuracy;
- Linking application of the finite element and finite volume methods with the underlying continuum mechanics and numerical methods theory;
- Running heat transfer, stress analysis (linear and nonlinear) and fluid flow (laminar and turbulent) analyses;
- Introduction to the Unix/Linux terminal (required for OpenFOAM);
- Introduction to parallelisation and running Abaqus/Ansys/OpenFOAM models on distributed memory supercomputers (UCD Sonic and ICHEC Kay systems).

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours


Computer Aided Lab


Autonomous Student Learning




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
- Lectures
- In-class group discussions centred around problem-based learning tasks
- Computer lab work
- Online tutorials (narrated screencasts tutorials and slides)
- Online quizzes 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations
Learning Recommendations:

Mechanics of Solids I, II, III
Mechanics of Fluids I, II, III

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
MEEN40050 - Computational Continuum Mech I

Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade In Module Component Repeat Offered
Examination: Written exam 2 hour End of Trimester Exam No Alternative linear conversion grade scale 40% No


Continuous Assessment: Continuous assessment lab assignments Throughout the Trimester n/a Alternative linear conversion grade scale 40% No


Continuous Assessment: An individual project Week 9 n/a Alternative linear conversion grade scale 40% No



Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Spring Yes - 2 Hour
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment
• Group/class feedback, post-assessment
• Online automated feedback
• Self-assessment activities

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Feedback individually to students, post-assessment: Students will receive written feedback on their lab assignments via Brightspace within three weeks of submission. Online automated feedback: Ungraded online quizzes will automatically provide students with feedback on correct and incorrect answers related to the module theory, aiding student's preparation for the end-of-trimester written examination. Feedback individually to students, post-assessment: Students will receive written feedback on their individual assignments via Brightspace within three weeks of submission. Self-assessment: In-class questions (e.g. using a student response system) allow self-monitoring. In addition, the lab and individual assignments are accompanied by a rubric. Group/class feedback, post assessment: general feedback will be provided in class following the individual assignments.

1. G. T. Mase, G. E. Mase, Continuum Mechanics for Engineers, 2nd Edition, CRC Press LLC, 1999.
2. J.H. Ferziger and M. Peric, Computational methods for Fluid Dynamics, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg, 1996.
3. K. J. Bathe, Finite Element Procedures, Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1996.
4. T. Marić, J. Höpken, K. Mooney, The OpenFOAM Technology Primer, Sourceflux, 2014, openly available in PDF format at
5. F. Moukalled, L. Mangani, M. Darwish, The Finite Volume Method in Computational Fluid Dynamics, An Advanced Introduction with OpenFOAM and Matlab, Springer, 2016.
6. C. J. Greenshields, H. G. Weller, Notes on Computational Fluid Dynamics: General Principles, 2022, available at
Name Role
Assoc Professor Philip Cardiff Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Dylan Armfield Tutor
Dr Ehsan Rezvani Tutor
Simon Antonio Rodriguez Luzardo Tutor
Ali Shayegh Tutor
Amirhossein Taran Tutor