Biomechanics (PG)

Module aims

To introduce students to biomechanics. This is an introductory module, whose goal is to introduce students to a range of topics. Topics include kinematics and kinetics of human locomotion, methods for analysing gait, macro- and micro-circulatory mechanics in various organs, and practical approaches to quantifying and controlling biofluid flows.

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

  • To describe how mechanics plays a role in basic physiological processes in the human body
  • To employ kinematic and kinetic principles to describe human locomotion
  • To explain the differences between macro and microcirculatory flows
  • To demonstrate understanding of mass and fluid transport mechanisms in physiology

Intellectual Skills

  • To apply the principles of mechanics to the analysis of biological systems
  • To assess and identify the key engineering features of complex problems involving living systems
  • To judge the most appropriate problem-solving approach for biomechanical investigations
  • To analyse and interpret raw data, e.g. motion analysis outputs and experimental flow fields

Practical Skills

  • Use of Matlab to analyse real datasets

Transferable Skills

  • Write reports on independent analysis of experimental data
  • Organise and prioritise work so as to complete problem solving in a time-constrained manner
  • Review and revise notes and tutorial problems for a closed-book exam

Module syllabus

Biosolid mechanics

  • Kinematics of human motion
  • Kinetics of human motion
  • Gait
  • Musculoskeletal modelling
  • Applications of motion analysis

Biofluid mechanics

  • Flow in large vessels
  • Blood rheology
  • Microcirculation
  • Mass and fluid transport through tissues
  • Flow in specific organs
  • Measurements and modelling of biofluids
  • Applications of biofluids


Students should be have competence in fundamental mathematics and solid and fluid mechanics. Students without these prerequisites should speak to the lecturers to determine if their background is suitable. Ability to differentiate and integrate algebraic, trigonometric and exponential functions, and elementary combinations thereof. Ability to identify and solve first- and second-order linear ordinary differential equations with constant coefficients, and to apply suitable boundary or initial data in to determine unknown coefficients in general solutions to such equations. Ability to carry out vector operations: addition, subtract

Introduction to Mechanics I, Solid Mechanics and Fluid Mechanics, or equivalent is also essential. Students without these prerequisites should speak to the lecturers to determine if their background is suitable.

Teaching methods

Students will be taught over one term using a combination of lectures and study groups. Lecture sessions will be made available on Panopto for review and supplemented with technologies as appropriate to promote active engagement during the lecture such as 'learning catalytics'. Study groups will be based on taught content from lectures to reinforce these topics and allow students to test their understanding. 

Lectures: 19 hours
Study groups: 9 hours


The module will be assessed by the submission of four courseworks, including two problem sheets and two computational write ups. Two coursework pieces will focus on Biosolid problems and two will focus on biofluid problems. Overall performance against all LOs in the module will be assessed by a final exam.

Written exam: Biomechanics exam; 70% weighting

Rubrics: 2.5 hours. All questions are compulsory. The questions will not necessarily all have the same weighting. Closed book exam; formula sheet will be provided.

Feedback : All marked problem sheet questions and written reports will be marked and returned within 2 weeks of submission. Full model solutions will be provided for problem sheets following submission. Outline solutions will be provided for written reports following submission.

Module leaders

Dr Angela Kedgley