Last Updated S022019


Unit Name Advanced Engineering Materials
Unit Code MCS502
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 Hylton KJ Macdonald & Dr Ana Evangelista
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

The unit looks at Advanced Engineering Materials, covering Concrete Practice, Steel Practice and Wood, including areas on Concrete Durability and Deterioration and Steel Coatings and Corrosion Protection.

It is important to highlight that the section does not include other specialist Materials, as these materials, whilst critically important in the field of Structural Engineering, are beyond the scope of this course.

The unit explores the important role that the Structural Engineer undertakes in the understanding of the impact of different natural materials on the codes, the design and the project. It further highlights the critical decision making that is required in ascertaining the suitability of the materials for the project, the importance of defining the specific material requirements from the Codes of Good Practice, and providing clear specifications to ensure that all the materials used on the project are in accordance with the requirements of the relevant codes, and the design, and that the works are fit for purpose.

Further, the unit covers the key aspects of Durability and Corrosion protection that need to be considered to ensure that the design life of the works is assured.

The unit provides a focussed approach in considering natural materials, in evaluating all materials that are to be used on a project, whether they are included in this unit or not.

A review of a landmark failure is included to enable students to reflect on the implications of inadequate consideration of the project requirements, the codes, the specifications and the material selection, which all contributed to a devastating and costly failure, both in in terms of loss of life and reputation.

Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Make judgements on the role of the Structural Engineer in ensuring the successful evaluation of the relevant codes and the definition of the project specifications, design and material requirements.
    • Bloom’s Level 5
  2. Judge and critique the key areas of expertise and techniques that are needed to evaluate and interrogate the Specifications required for the materials to be incorporated in a project.
    • Bloom’s Level 5
  3. Evaluate the key variables associated with natural materials and be able to interpret their effect  on the construction materials, such as concrete, that are to be incorporated into the project.
    • Bloom’s Level 5
  4. Determine the methods of communicating the key requirements for the materials, to be incorporated into the project with all the project role players.
    • Bloom’s Level 5
  5. Synthesise the methodology that will be employed on the project to ensure that the project specifications are controlled and adequately documented.
    • Bloom’s Level 6
  6. Construct the key Design deliverable of the project, and the design requirements to ensure that the works are fit for purpose and meet the required design life.
    • 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)

Example Topic: All topics covered in syllabus to date.

After Topic 4 15% 1,2,3

Assessment 2

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

Example: Short/Long answers and Problems to solve

After Topic 6 25% 1,2,3

Assessment 3

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

Report - Word length: 2000

Example Topic: Outline the methodology that the structural engineer should follow in the evaluation of a project design, including the determination of the relevant codes to be used, definition of the project specifications, determination of the critical variables with respect the materials that may impact on the design, and the material specifications to ensure that the resultant design is fit for its intended purpose.


Example Topic: Consider the requirements for Advanced Engineering Materials and contrast the requirements of the relevant Codes and determination of the material specifications and selection as determined by yourself and others you have worked with to that outlined in this Module.


Topic 8
25% 1- 6

Assessment 4

Type: Project Report

[If a continuation of the assessment 3, this should complete the report by adding sections on: methodology, implementation / evaluation, verification / validation, conclusion / challenges and recommendations / future work. If this is a new report, all headings from the midterm and the final reports must be included.]

Word length: 4000

Example Topic: A 50 storey high rise tower is being built in a hot climate and the building owner wants to maximise lettable floor area. The structural engineer is required to use HPC Concrete to achieve this goal by minimizing the size and number of columns to be used in the structure. How should the structural engineer evaluate the relevant design codes and determine the material requirements and risks. Further, what should the structural engineer include in the specifications incorporated in the contract, to ensure that all the necessary requirements for the HPC concrete are clearly articulated and that the final product satisfies the quality control requirements and is fit for purpose?

After Topic 12 30% 1-6

Attendance / Tutorial participation

Continuous 5% All


Prescribed and Recommended readings

Required textbook(s)

  1. Concrete Technology, Theory and Practice, by M. S. Shetty.S. Chand, 2008.
  2. Advanced Concrete Technology; Newman, John, Choo, Bin Song; Elsevier; 2003; ISBN 978-0-7506-5103-5.
  3. Steel Structures Design and Practice, by N. Subramanian.Oxford University Press2011.

Recommended Textbook(s)

Recommended Textbooks and peer-reviewed journals and websites as advised below (and during lectures).

  • Advanced Concrete Technology: Zonglin Li: Wiley; 2011; Wiley; ISBN 978-0-470-43743-8.
  • Steel Designers Hand Book, 8th Edition, Branco E Gorenc, Ron Tinyou, Arun A Syam; UNSW Press; 2012; ISBN 9781742233413.
  • Handbook of Cathodic Corrosion Protection; The Theory and Practice of Electromechanical Protection Process; Third Edition; W Von Baeckmann, W Schmidt, W Prinz Editors; Gulf Publishers; 1977; ISBN-13:978-0-88415-056-5.
  • Standard Handbook for Civil Engineers; Johnathon Ricketts, M Kent Loftin, Frederick S Merritt; Mc Graw Hill, 2004: ISBN 9780071364737.
  • CCTV Building; Wikipedia;
  • Canterbury Earthquakes Royal Commission; Final Report; Volume 6; Canterbury Television Building;
  • Concrete Microstructure, Properties, and Materials, P. Kumar Mehta Paulo J. M. Monteiro (used for Tutorials only).
  • Properties of concrete, 5th Edition, A. M. Neville, page 115 – 138. (used for Tutorials only).
  • Introduction to Timber as an Engineering Material, by A. Harte, National University of Ireland, Galway.
  • National Design Specifications (NDS), 2018, American Wood Council

Reference Materials

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

  1. National and international technical journals.
  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 and 2

  1. Concrete Practice –Cementitious Materials
    1. Manufacture of Portland Cement
    2. Wet Process
    3. Dry Process
    4. Chemical Composition
    5. Hydration of Cement
    6. Structure of Hydrated Cement
    7. Transition Zone
    8. Water Requirements for Hydration
  2. Types of Cement & specifications
    1. ASTM Classification
    2. Portland Pozzolana Cement
    3. Air-Entraining Cement
    4. White Cement
    5. Masonry Cement
    6. Refractory Concrete
    7. Very High Strength Cement
  3. Testing of Cement

Topic 3

  1. Aggregates
    1. Introduction
    2. Classification, Source, Size, Shape, Texture & Strength
    3. Modulus of Elasticity, Bulk Density, Specific Gravity
    4. Absorption and Moisture Content,
  2. Testing of Aggregates:
    1. Test for Determination of Flakiness Index
    2. Test for Determination of Elongation Index
    3. Test for Determination of clay, fine silt and fine dust
    4. Test for Determination of Organic Impurities

Topic 4

Water, Admixtures and Construction chemicals

  1. Water
    1. Qualities of Water
    2. Use of Sea Water for Mixing Concrete
  2. Admixtures and Construction Chemicals:
    1. General Admixtures
    2. Plasticizers (Water Reducers)
    3. Superplasticizers
    4. Pozzolana or Mineral Admixtures
    5. High Volume Fly Ash Concrete (HVFA)
    6. Silica Fume
    7. Dampproofing and Waterproofing Admixture
    8. Workability Agents
    9. Grouting Agents
    10. Corrosion Inhibiting Agents
    11. Bonding Admixture
  3. Construction Chemicals

Topic 5 

Fresh Concrete and Curing of Concrete

  1. Fresh Concrete:
    1. Workability
    2. Segregation
    3. Bleeding
    4. Setting Time of Concrete
    5. Process of Manufacture of Concrete
    6. Pumpable Concrete
    7. Placing Concrete
    8. Compaction of Concrete
  2. Curing of concrete:
    1. Curing Methods
      1. Water Curing
      2. Membrane Curing
      3. Application of heat
        • Steam curing at ordinary pressure.
        • Steam curing at high pressure.
        • Curing by Infra-red radiation.
        • Electrical curing

Topic 6

  1. Strength of concrete:
    1. Introduction
    2. Water/Cement Ratio
    3. Gel/Space Ratio
    4. The gain of Strength with Age
    5. Effect of Maximum size of Aggregate on Strength
    6. Relation Between Compressive and Tensile Strength
    7. Bond Strength
    8. High-Performance Concrete (HPC)
  2. Elasticity, creep and shrinkage:
    1. Elastic Properties of Concrete
    2. Relation between Modulus of Elasticity and Strength
    3. Factors Affecting the Modulus of Elasticity
    4. Poisson’s Ratio
    5. Creep
    6. Shrinkage
    7. Factors Affecting Shrinkage 

Topic 7

  1. Durability of concrete and advanced concrete materials
    1. Introduction
    2. Strength and durability relationship
    3. Permeability
    4. Interaction between Permeability, Volume Change and Cracking
    5. Concrete Subjected to High Temperature
    6. Freezing and Thawing
    7. Sulphate Attack
    8. Methods of Controlling Sulphate Attack
  2. Advanced concrete materials:
    1. Heat-resisting and refractory concretes
    2. High-density and radiation-shielding concrete and grout
    3. Fiber-reinforced concrete

Topic 8

  1. Concrete mix design
    1. Concept of Mix Design
    2. Statistical Quality Control of Concrete
    3. ACI Method of Mix Design
    4. Mix Design for Pumpable Concrete
    5. Rapid Method of Mix Design
    6. Sampling
    7. Acceptance Criteria
    8. Initial Curing
    9. Inspection and Testing of Structures
    10. Review of a Test Report

Topic 9

  1. Masonry Mortars:
    1. Concrete masonry
    2. Masonry Mortar
    3. Mixing Mortar
    4. The Requirements of Mortar
    5. Brick Masonry
    6. Strength of Brick Masonry

Topic 10

  1. Steel Practice
    1. Types of Structural Steel
    2. The process used for Steel Making
    3. Heat Treatment of Steel
    4. Alloying Elements in Steel
    5. Weldability of steel
    6. Mechanical Properties of Steel
    7. Ultimate Strength or Tensile Strength
    8. Inelastic Cyclic Response
    9. Characteristic Strength
    10. Ductility
    11. Resistance to Corrosion & fatigue resistance
    12. Structural Steel Products
    13. Advantages of steel as a structural material
    14. Disadvantages of Steel as a Structural Material

Topic 11

  1. Wood Practice
    1. Introduction
    2. Non-isotropic characteristics
    3. Shrinking and swelling
    4. Thermal Properties
    5. Durability
    6. Mechanical properties of wood
    7. Factors that Influence Mechanical
    8. Flexure and shear
    9. Types of Structural Wood
    10. Definitions of Common Wood Products
    11. Design provisions and equations
      • Bending Members — General
      • Bending Members — Flexure
      • Bending Members — Shear

Topic 12

Advanced Engineering Materials 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 and to clarify any outstanding issues. Instructors / facilitators may choose to cover a specialized topic if applicable to that cohort.

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


  • Software: N/A

  • Version: N/A

  • Instructions:  N/A

  • Additional resources or files: N/A


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