Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2007-2008 (archived)


Department: Engineering


Type Tied Level 4 Credits 15 Availability Available in 2007/08
Tied to H1K512
Tied to H1K509
Tied to H1K514


  • None.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To introduce students to the modern principles and application of linear elastic fracture mechanics and fatigue failure.
  • To present the underlying theoretical and computational framework for Finite Element Analysis and to show how FEA is used to conduct stress and structural analysis in 3D continua and plates and shells.


  • (a) Fracture Mechanics and Fatigue (9 hours)
  • Principles:
  • Elastic crack tip stress field.
  • Solution for a crack in an infinite body, the effect of finite plate size, examples, e.g. elliptical cracks.
  • Crack tip plastic zone in real materials, plastic zone corrections, shape of the plastic zone, plate thickness effects.
  • Fracture toughness and its applicability.
  • Determination of stress intensity factors - analytical, numerical, finite element, boundary element and experimental methods.
  • Introduction to Elastic Plastic Fracture Mechanics, equivalent crack length.
  • Fatigue crack growth under cyclic loading.
  • Approaches to consider combination with static loading.
  • Cumulative crack growth under different loading regimes.
  • Life prediction using Paris Law and other empirical relations.
  • Applications:
  • Fail safe and damage tolerant design, e.g. leak before break in pressure vessels and pipelines.
  • Fracture mechanics approach to prediction of fatigue crack growth, stress history, crack growth integration.
  • (b) Finite Element Applications (10 hours)
  • Development of the weighted residual approach to produce FEA models.
  • Theory of 8-noded hexaheadral isoparametric finite elements for 3D stress analysis.
  • Introduction to plate and shell theory.
  • Simple finite elements for bending.
  • Use of the Newton Raphson scheme for nonlinear analysis.
  • Use of finite element programs.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • an awareness of the analysis and calculations needed to go into the evaluation of life expectancy and the fracture assessment of damaged structures;
  • knowledge of the theoretical framework for linear and nonlinear continuum analysis using FEA;
  • knowlegde of the way that the theoretical framework is translated into software and some of the computational aspects of FEA calculations.
  • an awareness of the many aspects involved in the modelling of modern complex structures.
Subject-specific Skills:
Key Skills:

    Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

    • Lectures to cover module content.
    • Assignments to underpin lectures.
    • Examinations to assess knowledge, understanding and application.

    Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

    Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
    Lectures 19 weekly 1 hour 19
    Tutorials 19 weekly 1 hour 19
    Preparation and Reading 112
    Total 150

    Summative Assessment

    Component: Examination Component Weighting: 67%
    Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
    Exam 2 hours 100%
    Component: Assignment Component Weighting: 33%
    Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
    Assignment 3,000 words or equivalent 100%

    Formative Assessment:


    Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University