Theory of Shells

Module aims

  • To introduce the students to the fundamental concepts and principles of the analysis and design of thin-walled shelled structures. 
  • The module begins with an introduction to membrane theory for common shapes of axisymmetric structural shells, followed by an overview of axisymmetric bending theory for cylindrical shells and an introduction to the phenomenon of shell buckling. 
  • The module introduces the students to the analysis of shells using commercial finite element software including linear elastic, linear plastic, nonlinear elastic and linear buckling analyses. An introduction to the design of shells using EN 1993-1-6 is also given. 

Learning outcomes

On successfully completing this course unit, students will be able to: 

  • Understand what is meant by a 'thin' walled assumption for axisymmetric shell structures.
  • Apply shell membrane theory to analyse cylindrical, conical and spherical shells under varying load cases.
  • Apply axisymmetric bending theory to perform stress analyses of isotropic and orthotropic cylindrical shells.
  • Use numerical analysis to perform a series of increasingly sophisticated analyses on different types of shell structures, and to compare the outcomes to previously calculated membrane theory solutions.
  • Become familiar with the design philosophy in EN 1993-1-6.


Information will be provided separately.

Reading list

Module leaders

Dr Adam Sadowski