Applied Computational Aerodynamics

Module aims

The main objective of the course is to develop the engineering skills required for the students to become intelligent users of aerodynamic simulation codes.

The course will concentrate on familiarising students with the key numerical methods utilised for solving the governing equations of fluid dynamics for aerodynamic design. Students will learn the basic numerical and aerodynamic concepts required by using existing open-source and commercial computer programs to simulate and analyse aerodynamic flows. Through the use of project-based learning, via a combination of lectures and practical assignments, the course will build on the students’ prior knowledge of aerodynamics so that they can effectively design, set-up, perform, validate and assess the accuracy of simulations via computational codes.    

The aim of the course is to give students:

(i)         A sufficient body of knowledge and an appreciation of the capabilities and limitations of computational aerodynamics tools for them to become good users.

(ii)        An increase awareness of the computational aerodynamic tools available to them and an ability to choose the right tool for a given analysis and design task.

(iii)      Practical experience in the use of panel codes (Xfoil), vortex-lattice codes (AVL), and common commercial CFD packages (Star-CCM+).

(iv)      Competency in the use and evaluation of computational codes for advanced aerodynamic analysis.

Learning outcomes

On successfully completing this module, students will be able to: Understand the basic principles for the computational aerodynamic analysis and design of aeronautical configurations, their limitations and range of applicability. Utilize state-of-the-art linear and CFD codes to perform flow simulations about aerofoils, wings and aircrafts, and interpret them. Obtain valuable aerodynamic analyses using computational aerodynamics with solid knowledge and sound judgement. 

Module syllabus

This module will cover the following topics:   An introduction to computational aerodynamics and its goals. Computer codes: verification, calibration and validation. Linear models: Panel codes and viscous-inviscid interaction methods. Vortex-lattice methods. Introduction to CFD: Governing equations and boundary conditions. Review of basic numerical methods: finite differences, finite elements, and finite volumes. Stability and convergence. Pre-processing: Geometry and grids. Grid quality.  Simulation of inviscid flows. Treatment of shocks: artificial viscosity, Riemann solvers. Boundary conditions. Simulation of viscous flows and turbulence modelling. Post-processing and flow visualization. Applications and an introduction to "in house" codes. Computer sessions on the use of the codes: Xfoil, AVL and STARCCM+. 

Teaching methods

The background material will be presented in the form of traditional lectures. These will be supplemented by computing laboratory sessions and video tutorials where students will learn about the relevant computers programs and how to use them. Finally, the students will apply these computational tools to aerodynamic analysis and design and will be assessed by a short quiz and a coursework assignment on the simulation of flows about aerodynamic shapes such as aerofoils, wings or aircrafts.


This module presents opportunities for both formative and summative assessment. 
You will be formatively assessed through progress tests and tutorial sessions.
You will have additional opportunities to self-assess your learning via tutorial problem sheets.
You will be summatively assessed through two coursework assignments.

Assessment type Assessment description Weighting Pass mark
Coursework Report 80% 50%
Coursework Quiz 20% 50%

This module presents opportunities both for formative and summative assessment.  
You will be formatively assessed through a number of progress tests and tutorial sessions. 
Additional opportunities are provided for you to self-assess your learning via tutorial problem sheets. 
Summative Assessment takes the form of a theoretical quiz and a group coursework at the end of the module. 

You will receive feedback following the coursework submission.

You will receive feedback on your performance whilst undertaking tutorial exercises, during which you will also receive instruction on the correct solution to tutorial problems.

Further individual feedback will be available to you on request via this module’s online feedback forum, through staff office hours and discussions with tutors.

Reading list


Additional references

Module leaders

Professor Joaquim Peiro