Last Updated S012021


Unit Name Structural Analysis
Unit Code MCS501
Unit Duration 1 Term (online) or 1 Semester (on-campus)

Graduate Diploma of Engineering (Civil: Structural)

Duration: 1 year


Master of Engineering (Civil: Structural)

Duration: 2 years   

Year Level 1st
Unit Creator / Reviewer Dr Medhat Boutros & Dr Muhammad Rahman / Dr. Milind Siddhpura
Core/Elective: Core
Pre/Co-requisites None
Credit Points


Grad Dip total course credit points = 24

(3 credits x 8 (units))


Masters total course credit points = 48

(3 credits x 12 (units) + 12 credits (Thesis))

Mode of Delivery Online or on-campus. 
Unit Workload

10 hours per week:

Lecture – 1 hour

Tutorial – 1 hour

Practical / Lab – 1 hour (where applicable)

Personal Study recommended – 7 hours (guided and unguided)

Unit Description and General Aims

This unit introduces stiffness (displacement) analysis procedures of statically indeterminate structures. 

First, the basic principles for structural analysis and the basic operations of the matrix algebra are reviewed.

Then, longhand solutions are practised using matrix analysis and successive corrections (moment distribution) in the analysis of plane skeletal structures. Commercial structural analysis software SPACE GASS is then used for the analyse structures.

Finally, the Finite Element method is introduced with particular focus on the formulation of stiffness matrix equations using constitutive relations and shape functions for spring, bar and beam elements.  Finite Element software is then used to analyse practical structures with emphasis on modelling techniques and accuracy.

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this Unit, students are expected to be able to:

  1. Evaluate beams and frames using the matrix stiffness method.
    • Bloom’s Level 5
  2. Evaluate beams and frames using the moment-distribution method.
    • Bloom’s Level 5
  3. Determine and derive stiffness and load matrices using Finite Element procedures.
    • Bloom’s Level 5
  4. Synthesis 3D structures using Finite Element software.
    • Bloom’s Level 6

Student assessment

Assessment Type

(e.g. Assignment - 2000 word essay (specify topic)

Examination (specify length and format))

When assessed

(eg Week 5)
Weighting (% of total unit marks) Learning Outcomes Assessed

Assessment 1

Type: Multi-choice test (Proctored) / Group work / Short answer questions / Role Play / Self-Assessment / Presentation

Example Topic: Analysis of beams and frames using the stiffness matrix method. 

After Topic 5 15% 1

Assessment 2

Type: Proctored test / Report / Research / Paper / Case Study / Site Visit / Problem analysis / Project / Professional recommendation

Example Topic: Analysis of beams and frames using the moment-distribution method.

After Topic 7 25% 2

Assessment 3

Type: Project Report / Remote Lab Practical or Software Simulation or Case studies.

Word length: 3000

Example Topic:  Analysis of trusses and beam using the finite element method and/or the finite element software.


Topic 10
25% 3 - 4

Assessment 4

Type: Project Report

Word length: 4000

Example Topic: Analyse frames/beams using Finite Element software - in each case describe and discuss:

  1. The discretised model.
  2. The degrees of freedom and constraints.
  3. The elements used and their connectivity.
  4. The results of the analysis.
After Topic 12 30% 3 - 4


Continuous 5% 1 - 4

Prescribed and Recommended readings

Required textbook

  1. R. C. Hibbeler, Structural Analysis, 10th Edition. Pearson, 2019 - ISBN: 9781292247236

Recommended textbook(s)

  1. Ghali, A.; Neville, A.M. and Brown, T.G.; “Structural Analysis: a unified classical and matrix approach” 7th edition; Taylor and Francis, 2017
  2. Kassimali A., “Structural Analysis”, 5th edition, Cengage Learning, 2015
  3. Cook, R. D., Malkus, D. S., Plesha, M. E., and Witt, R. J., “Concepts and Applications of Finite Element Analysis”, 4th edition, John Wiley & Sons, 2002.
  4. Kenneth Derucher, Chandrasekhar Putcha, Uksun Kim; “Indeterminate structural analysis”, Chapter 3.

Reference Materials

 A number of peer-reviewed journals and websites as advised below (and during lectures); 

  1. National and international technical journals: Finite Elements in Analysis and Design(
  2. Specific material to be advised during the lectures.

Unit Content

One topic is delivered per contact week, with the exception of part-time 24-week units, where one topic is delivered every two weeks.


Topic 1


  1. Basic principles of structural analysis
  2. Basic operations of matrix algebra

Topic 2

Stiffness Matrix Method (Part 1):

  1. Fundamentals of the stiffness matrix method
  2. Derivation of the stiffness matrices for beam elements
  3. Analysis of beams using the stiffness matrix method

Topic 3

Stiffness Matrix Method (Part 2):

  1. Analysis of frames using the stiffness matrix method.
  2. BMD & SFD of Frame

Topic 4

Stiffness Matrix Method (Part 3):

  1. Analysis of frames using SPACE GASS (Part 1)
  2. Analysis of frames using SPACE GASS (Part 2)

Topic 5

Moment-Distribution Method (Part 1):

  1. Introduction and definition of terms
  2. Basic concept of the Moment-Distribution Method

Topic 6

Moment-Distribution Method (Part 2):

  1. Analysis of frames: without sidesway
  2. BMD & SFD of without sidesway frame

Topic 7

Moment-Distribution Method (Part 3):

  1. Analysis of frames: with sidesway
  2. BMD & SFD of with sidesway frame

Topic 8

Introduction to Finite Element Analysis (Part 1):

  1. Fundamentals of the finite element analysis
  2. Formulation of the stiffness matrix for the spring element
  3. Examples: spring element

Topic 9

Application of the finite element method using commercial software:

  1. Pre-processor
  2. Analysis
  3. Assessment of the results and their accuracy.

Topic 10

Introduction to Finite Element Analysis (Part 2):

  1. Formulation of the stiffness matrix for the bar element
  2. Examples: bar element

Topic 11

Introduction to Finite Element Analysis (Part 3):

  1. Formulation of the stiffness matrix for the beam element
  2. Examples: beam element

Topic 12

Project and Unit Review

In the final week students will have an opportunity to review the contents covered so far. Opportunity will be provided for a review of student work, to clarify any outstanding issues, and to work on finalising the major assessment report.

Engineers Australia

The Australian Engineering Stage 1 Competency Standards for the Professional Engineer, approved as of 2013. This table is referenced in the mapping of graduate attributes to learning outcomes and via the learning outcomes to student assessment.

Stage 1 Competencies and Elements Competency
1. Knowledge and Skill Base
1.1 Comprehensive, theory based understanding of the underpinning natural and physical sciences and the engineering fundamentals applicable to the engineering discipline.
1.2 Conceptual understanding of the mathematics, numerical analysis, statistics, and computer and information sciences which underpin the engineering discipline.
1.3 In-depth understanding of specialist bodies of knowledge within the engineering discipline.
1.4 Discernment of knowledge development and research directions within the engineering discipline.
1.5 Knowledge of engineering design practice and contextual factors impacting the engineering discipline.
1.6 Understanding of the scope, principles, norms, accountabilities and bounds of sustainable engineering practice in the specific discipline.
2. Engineering Application Ability
2.1 Application of established engineering methods to complex engineering problem solving.
2.2 Fluent application of engineering techniques, tools and resources.
2.3 Application of systematic engineering synthesis and design processes.
2.4 Application of systematic approaches to the conduct and management of engineering projects.
3. Professional and Personal Attributes
3.1 Ethical conduct and professional accountability.
3.2 Effective oral and written communication in professional and lay domains.
3.3 Creative, innovative and pro-active demeanor.
3.4 Professional use and management of information.
3.5 Orderly management of self and professional conduct.
3.6 Effective team membership and team leadership.

Software/Hardware Used



  • N/A