Module information on this degree can be found below, separated by year of study.

The module information below applies for the current academic year. The academic year runs from August to July; the 'current year' switches over at the end of July.

Students select optional courses subject to rules specified in the Mechanical Engineering Student Handbook,  for example at most three Design and Business courses. Please note that numbers are limited on some optional courses and selection criteria will apply.

Heat Transfer

Module aims

To develop an understanding of the physics of heat transfer and to quantify them. Topics include steady conduction, transient conduction, convection, radiation, and heat exchangers. For all of these topics, practical implementation through solving small design-like problems is studied.

ECTS units: 5

Learning outcomes

On completion of this module students will be able to:

1. Solve simple problems involving heat conduction, convection and radiation for solids and fluids in simple geometries. 

2. Apply design methods to simple engineering calculations on: wall conduction, fins, cooling or heating of bodies immersed in a fluid, transient heat transfer, convection boundary layers and heat exchangers. 

3. Evaluate and explain the significance of dimensionless groups used to characterise heat transfer problems and data.

4. Translate simple problems involving components, systems and heat exchangers into a form which can be solved using mathematical methods.

5. Augment and integrate the study of a technical subject, in this case Heat Transfer, by making extensive and efficient use of a comprehensive textbook, such as Incropera’s.

Module syllabus

Heat transfer mechanisms: conduction, convection, radiation; common engineering occurrences and the importance. 

Conduction and convection: thermal conductivity and heat transfer coefficient; Fourier's and Newton's laws; heat diffusion equation; thermal resistance of plane and cylindrical walls and fluid boundary layers; thermal resistance networks; overall heat transfer coefficient; fins.

Convection and thermal boundary layers: forced and free convection; external and internal convection; heat transfer correlations; Nusselt, Prandtl and Grashof numbers; Reynolds analogy. Pool boiling (phenomenological description). 

Unsteady conduction in space and time: lumped capacitance; Fourier and Biot numbers; one-dimensional conduction with convective boundaries; conductors with internal energy generation.

Heat exchangers: counter flow, co-flow; effectiveness, NTU number.

Radiation: Stefan-Boltzman law; black and grey bodies; emission and absorption; radiosity; Kirchhoff's law.



Teaching methods

Students will be introduced to the main topics through lectures, supported by technology (PowerPoint, Panapto and Blackboard). Short activities (using interactive pedagogies) will occasionally be introduced in the classroom setting to reinforce learning, for example through mentimeter and the like. You will be provided with problem solving sheets and should complete these as part of your independent study. Tutorials sessions will provide small group interaction with teaching staff where you are expected to engage in discussion on specific problems. The Department provides to each student a print copy of the core textbook by Incropera, "Foundations of heat transfer" 8th edition, International student version., John Wiley & Sons.


Assessment details        
      Pass mark   
Grading method Numeric   40%
Assessment type Assessment description Weighting Pass mark Must pass?
Examination 1.5 Hour exam 95% 40% Y
Examination Progress test 5% 40% N

Reading list

Module leaders

Dr Teng Cao