To complement the formal module descriptors (which include aims, learning outcomes, assessment and recommended textbooks), we have compiled the following additional descriptions of each module which give a flavour of the module content, why it's important, how it links to the other modules, and what's interesting about the module itself. We have also included example images of the fluid flows; details of image sources are available in the final dropdown following the bracketed numbers in the captions. 
  

Reasons to study each module

CI9-FM-01: Fluid Mechanics Fundamentals

In order to build towards realistic Fluid Mechanics applications, it’s necessary to consolidate the fundamentals of the subject. This module will create a solid foundation in Fluid Mechanics upon which the subsequent modules will build.

You will learn about the fundamental physics of fluid flows and appreciate a wide range of fluid properties and behaviours. This will include general conservation laws, steady and unsteady flow as well as Eulerian and Lagrangian descriptions. We will then go over the Euler and Navier-Stokes equations, laminar and turbulent flows, scaling and similarity, and finish by introducing turbulence.

Vortex at the tip of an aeroplane
[Left] Vortex at the tip of an aeroplane (1), [Middle] Plug hole vortex (2), [Right] Streak lines in camp fire (3)

CI9-FM-02: Modelling Tools

Fluid flows are complex (they would be no fun if they were too easy!) but they are everywhere – right from living-and-breathing itself to the environment we experience around us.  This module brings together fundamental fluid mechanics with mathematical modeling tools and deploys them to solve genuine physical phenomena of real application.

Core to the module is the distillation of complex physical situations to simplified governing physics and clear communication in both written and oral presentation. The learning that you’ll do in this module will complement and underpin your approaches to solving any fluid flows you’ll meet in this course and in any engineering application – moreover, it will change the way you approach problem solving far beyond fluid mechanics.

We will show you how to go from real-world complex flows like the smoke plume picture to simple solutions that describe the dominant physics.
We will show you how to go from real-world complex flows like the smoke plume picture to simple solutions that describe the dominant physics (4).

CI9-FM-03: Transport Processes

The dispersion of pollutants within the atmosphere, rivers, lakes or oceans is of key consideration for controlling the release of contaminants and preventing environmental disasters.  Furthermore, the transport of sediments is essential in understanding erosion and accretion in rivers and coastal areas, both of which play a key role in managing the risk of flooding.

This module will highlight the significance of transport processes in the areas of pollutant dispersion and sediment transport. In this module you will appreciate the physical processes that govern the transport of fluids, tracers and sediments. You will also formulate mathematical models that can describe these physical processes. In addition, you will understand the influence of turbulence and dispersion on scalar transport and how these can be modelled.

[Top left] View of the uranium mill tailings pile in Moab, Utah, [Top-right] Sediment transport within Toklat river, Alaska, USA,[ Bottom-left] Coastal sediment transport at Assateague Island, Maryland, USA, [Bottom-right] Air pollution from fossil-fuel power station
[Top-left] View of the uranium mill tailings pile in Moab, Utah (5), [Top-right] Sediment transport within Toklat river, Alaska, USA (6), [Bottom-left] Coastal sediment transport at Assateague Island, Maryland, USA (7), [Bottom-right] Air pollution from fossil-fuel power station (8)

CI9-FM-04: Wave Mechanics

In the offshore and coastal environments, ocean waves generate the largest forces on man-made and natural structures. This is due to the high density of water as well as the large velocities and accelerations generated by ocean waves. Consequently, a comprehensive understanding of wave mechanics is an essential skill for any Offshore or Coastal Engineer.

This module will begin by teaching you the analytical waves theories that represent regular (or steady) waves. You will then be introduced to irregular (or unsteady) wave theories, which contain many frequencies and directions, and are therefore more representative of realistic sea states found in seas and oceans around the World. You will learn about the range of validity and accuracy of these theories and which situations require more advanced numerical models. This will be put into context of both recent research developments and the design requirements of the offshore and coastal engineering industries.

This module is closely linked with the Fluid Loading and Coastal Processes modules that build upon the material introduced in this module.

[1] Breaking wave, [2] Breaking wave, [3] Rough seas, [4] A plunging breaking wave photographed in the Coastal flume within the Hydrodynamics laboratory.
[Top] Photographs of breaking waves (9), (10), [Bottom-left] Rough seas (11), [Bottom-right] A plunging breaking wave photographed in the Coastal flume within the Hydrodynamics laboratory (12).

CI9-FM-05: Buoyancy-driven Flows

An abundance of flows in natural and man-made environments are driven or modified by density differences. Examples include ocean outfalls, dust clouds, pollution clouds, avalanches, volcanic eruption columns, mixing in reservoirs and ventilation driven by heated surfaces in buildings.

This module will explain the complex and various influences of buoyancy by focusing on relatively simple models of canonical flows and their incorporation in practical engineering problems. We will study the behaviour of stratified environments, the effects of horizontal density gradients and of localised sources of buoyancy. A variety of flows will be considered in the context of building ventilation, in which the temperature distribution in a space plays a key role in determining comfort and ventilation.

The development of integral models to describe buoyancy-driven flows will be underpinned by a thorough understanding of the physics associated with buoyancy, the energetics associated with mixing and assumptions that are typically made to simplify the governing equations.

[Top] Dust storm in Afghanistan, [Bottom-left] Horizontal convection produced by the differential heating of a horizontal boundary condition, [Bottom-right] A horizontal slice though a confined space heated and cooled by isolated sources of buoyancy.
[Top] Dust storm in Afghanistan (13), [Bottom-left] Horizontal convection produced by the differential heating of a horizontal boundary condition (14), [Bottom-right] A horizontal slice through a confined space heated and cooled by isolated sources of buoyancy (15).

CI9-FM-07: Computational Analysis

With the advent of high performance computing and sophisticated algorithms, the computational analysis of fluid flow has entered a new era.  Direct simulation and the numerical analysis of the equations governing fluid motion yield insights and quantitative information parallels and complements laboratory observations.

This module provides the foundations of a thorough understanding of simulation and analysis techniques that can be employed in engineering design problems. These techniques include the variety of ways in which a system of partial differential equations can be represented in a discrete form by a computer. We will discuss the implications of various approaches to discretisation, including accuracy and stability. The module will discuss numerical methods for free-surface flows, confined and unconfined turbulence and complex geometry.

This is a `hands-on’ module in which practical engineering design problems will be modelled and solved in class using a wide variety of numerical techniques. 

[Top] The enstrophy field from the direct numerical simulation of a confined space heated and cooled by isolated sources of buoyancy, [Bottom-left] A two-dimensional simulation of the flow around a cylinder using the discrete vortex method, [Bottom-right] The enstrophy (a measure of rotational energy) from the simulation of a turbulent thermal plume.
[Top] The enstrophy field (a measure of rotational energy) from the direct numerical simulation of a confined space heated and cooled by isolated sources of buoyancy (20), [Bottom-left] A two-dimensional simulation of the flow around a cylinder using the discrete vortex method (21), [Bottom-right] Horizontal slice of the enstrophy from the simulation of a turbulent thermal plume (23).

CI9-FM-08: Fluid Loading

Calculating fluid loading is a key component in the design process of structures in the offshore, coastal and built environments. In these environments the fluid loading is typically generated by winds, waves and/or currents and both steady and unsteady flows can be encountered. A good understanding of fluid-structure interaction is essential for accurately calculating loading.

In this module will you explore various flow regimes, the associated fluid loading and gain an understanding of the physics that govern these loads. You will be taught the simplifying assumptions on which design solutions are based and you will appreciate the accuracy of these simple solutions and when they are appropriate. You will consider fixed structures as well as dynamically-responding bodies and systems. This module will also cover physical model testing and the relevant scaling parameters. 

[Top-left] Flow around a column and associated scour hole, [Top-right] Modelling spilling and plunging breaking waves and their underlying particle kinematics, [Bottom] Sequence of photographs of a breaking wave hitting a deck structure, as modelled in the wave basing within the Hydrodynamics laboratory.
[Top-left] Flow around a column and associated scour hole (23), [Top-right] Modelling spilling and plunging breaking waves and their underlying particle kinematics (24), [Bottom] Sequence of photographs of a breaking wave hitting a deck structure, as modelled in the wave basin within the Hydrodynamics laboratory (25).

CI9-FM-09: Coastal Processes

90% of the World’s trade is exported by sea, and all these vessels need to dock at ports and harbours to offload their cargo. In addition, recent winter storms in the UK wrecked havoc by causing major coastal flooding. As such an appreciation of nearshore processes is necessary for engineers to design ports, harbours and coastal defenses. 

This module will teach you the key coastal processes and equip you with the necessary tools. The subject will build on the Wave Mechanics module and complement the material of the Fluid Loading module. You will first be taught about the key wave transformations such as shoaling, refraction, diffraction and wave breaking. This will be followed by the introduction of coastal structures such as sea walls and breakwaters. The module will then present the importance of water level and the influence of tides and storm surge. You will then learn about the processes very close to the shore such as surf-zone hydrodynamics and sediment transport. Finally, you will learn the fundamentals of designing state of art coastal protection techniques.

[Top-left] Gorey harbour, Jersey at low tide, [Top-left] Example of a Coastal Structure: Llandudno Pier, Wales , [Bottom] A recreational beach in the Mediterranean Sea in calm and storm conditions
[Top-left] Gorey harbour, Jersey at low tide (26), [Top-right] Example of a Coastal Structure: Llandudno Pier, Wales (27), [Bottom] A recreational beach in the Mediterranean Sea in calm and storm conditions (28).

CI9-FM-10: Energy Systems

With the expanding global population, the demand for energy is increasing whilst simultaneously our traditional, finite energy supplies are reducing. As such, there is a strong push towards sustainable solutions and Fluid Mechanics has a central role to play in generating, harnessing and consuming energy.

This module will provide you with a broad overview of energy systems and the role of thermodynamics in assessing solutions. You will examine energy demand, supply, resources and usage. The specific applications will consider marine renewables (wave, tidal and offshore wind), hydroelectric power and solar energy. You will critically assess these technologies and their key advantages and disadvantages in conjunction with the overall economic and policy setting.

This will allow you to apply the knowledge introduced throughout the MSc course to realistic energy systems. It provides a perfect link to the 4 design projects and industry application that you’ll need once you enter the work force.

[Top-left] Three Gorges Dam, China, [Top-right] Wake from offshore wind turbine array, [Bottom-left] Pelamis wave energy converter, [Bottom-right] Solar power tower, Seville, Spain.
[Top-left] Three Gorges Dam, China (29), [Top-right] Wake from offshore wind turbine array (30), [Bottom-left] Pelamis wave energy converter (31), [Bottom-right] Solar power tower, Seville, Spain (32).

CI9-FM-11: Urban Fluid Mechanics

More and more of us are living in cities. Currently, the number stands at 3.97bn and this number is expected to rise to 6.42bn (66% of the world population) in 2050. This will exert significant pressures on the air quality, energy consumption, noise levels, biodiversity and general well-being of the population. These pressures are exacerbated by the expected increase in the frequency of extreme weather events such as storms and droughts that climate change will bring. In order to overcome these challenges, it is crucial to understand and model the flow of air, heat, water vapour, water and pollutants, both outside and inside buildings.

The module is designed to bring you to the forefront of the current knowledge in modelling the built environment. It will cover the exchanges of the city with the atmosphere and the urban heat island effect, air quality, indoor climate and building energy performance. The module will cover strategies to make urban areas both sustainable and resilient to climate change and the challenges that need to be overcome to make these happen.

[Top-left] Urban heat island in Atlanta, USA, [Top-right] Green roof of city hall, Chicago, Illinois, USA, [Bottom] Beijing on a clear and smoggy day
[Top-left] Urban heat island in Atlanta, USA (33), [Top-right] Green roof of city hall, Chicago, Illinois, USA (34), [Bottom] Beijing on a clear and smoggy day (35). 

CI9-FM-12: Design Projects

This module will prepare you for entering industry by teaching design principles and best practices in Fluid Mechanics. It will consist of 4 design projects that bring together and consolidate all aspects of the taught material. The design brief will be formulated with help from industry members, who will also make up the client panel for judging the projects. You will work in small teams and during these projects you will be taught industry-standard tools/software as required. At the end of each project you will hand in a design report and give a group presentation to the client and your peers. This module emphasizes design principles, team working, writing and presentation skills as well as consideration of health and safety, risks, finance and sustainability.

There will be a project in each of the following areas:

  • Offshore Engineering
  • Coastal Engineering
  • Environmental Flows
  • Built Environment

Example posters from previous group design projects

Example posters from previous group design projects (36).

CI9-FM-13: Research Project

During this module, you will undertake research with one (or more) of the leading academics within the Fluid Mechanics section. You may also choose to undertake this research project in the form of an industry placement. You will submit a literature review, a dissertation and give a final presentation at the end-of-year student conference. This module will emphasise independent work, literature review, technical writing, oral presentation, time management and forming and defending hypotheses.

Links to examples of final year undergraduate project posters:

Image sources

  1. Vortex at the tip of an aeroplane. (Courtesy of NASA Langley Research Center (NASA-LaRC), Public domain)
  2. Plug hole vortex. (Courtesy of Robert D Anderson, creative commons license, CC BY-SA 3.0)
  3. Streak lines in camp fire. (Courtesy of Abrget47j, creative commons license, CC BY-SA 3.0)
  4. We will show you how to go from real-world complex flows like the smoke plume picture to simple solutions that describe the dominant physics. (Courtesy of Imperial College London)
  5. View of the uranium mill tailings pile in Moab, Utah. (Courtesy of Unknown photographer/Department of Energy, Public domain)
  6. Sediment transport within Toklat river, Alaska, USA.  (Courtesy of Dawn Endico, creative commons license, CC BY-SA 2.0)
  7. Coastal sediment transport at Assateague Island, Maryland, USA. (Courtesy of Susanne Bledsoe, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Public domain)
  8. Air pollution from fossil-fuel power station. (Courtesy of Alfred Palmer - Library of Congress, Public domain)
  9. Breaking wave (Courtesy of Unsplashcreative commons license, CCO 1.0)
  10. Breaking wave (Courtesy of NOAAPublic domain mark 1.0)
  11. Rough seas (Courtesy of Mark Smith, creative commons license, CC BY-ND 2.0)
  12. A plunging breaking wave photographed in the Coastal flume within the Hydrodynamics laboratory (Courtesy of Imperial College London)
  13. Dust storm in Afghanistan (Courtesy of Cpl Daniel Wiepen, Open Government License)
  14. Horizontal convection produced by the differential heating of a horizontal boundary condition (Courtesy of Imperial College London)
  15. A horizontal slice through a confined space heated and cooled by isolated sources of buoyancy (Courtesy of Imperial College London)
  16. Laboratory demonstration of directional wave-wave interactions in the Wave basin (Courtesy of Imperial College London)
  17. Students measure wave propagation in a teaching wave flume (Courtesy of Imperial College London)
  18. A warm plume, common in buildings, experimentally mimics the warming of a room (Courtesy of Imperial College London)
  19. Gravity current experiment (Courtesy of Imperial College London)
  20. The enstrophy field from the direct numerical simulation of a confined space heated and cooled by isolated sources of buoyancy. (Courtesy of Imperial College London)
  21. A two-dimensional simulation of the flow around a cylinder using the discrete vortex method. (Courtesy of Yorgos Deskos, Imperial College London)
  22. The enstrophy (a measure of rotational energy) from the simulation of a turbulent thermal plume. (Courtesy of Imperial College London)
  23. Flow around a column and associated scour hole. (Courtesy of USGS, Public domain mark 1.0). 
  24. Modelling spilling and plunging breaking waves and their underlying particle kinematics. (Courtesy of Imperial College London)
  25. Sequence of photographs of a breaking wave hitting a deck structure, as modelled in the wave basin within the Hydrodynamics laboratory. (Courtesy of Imperial College London)
  26. Gorey harbour, Jersey at low tide. (Courtesy of FoxyOrange, creative commons license, CC BY-SA 3.0). 
  27. Example of a Coastal Structure: Llandudno Pier, Wales. (Courtesy of Diego Torrescreative commons license, CCO 1.0)
  28. A recreational beach in the Mediterranean Sea in calm and storm conditions. (Courtesy of Jose Alsina, Imperial College London)
  29. Three Gorges Dam, China. (Courtesy of Le Grand Portage, creative commons license CC BY 2.0)
  30. Wake from offshore wind turbine array. (Courtesy of Vattenfall, creative commons license, CC BY-ND 2.0)
  31. Pelamis wave energy converter. (Courtesy of P123, public domain)
  32. Solar power tower, Seville, Spain.  (Courtesy of  afloresm, creative commons license CC BY 2.0)
  33. Urban heat island in Atlanta, USA. (Courtesy of NASA Earth ObservatoryPublic domain mark 1.0). 
  34. Green roof of city hall, Chicago, Illinois, USA. (Courtesy of TonyTheTigercreative commons license, CC BY-SA 3.0). 
  35. Beijing on a clear and smoggy day. (Courtesy of Bobakcreative commons license, CC BY-SA 2.5). 
  36. Examples of previous Group Design Projects. (Courtesy of Imperial College London).