Last Updated S012021


Unit Name Structural Dynamics
Unit Code MCS507
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
Core/Elective: Core
Pre/Co-requisites MCS502 - Structural Analysis
Credit Points



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 is concerned with the principles of structural dynamic analysis.  It introduces mathematical fundamentals of vibration, the definition of dynamic parameters including mass, stiffness and viscous damping. 

The analysis is performed in the time domain by direct integration and in the frequency domain.  The analysis is applied to practical structures.

The effect of material and geometric non-linearity on the dynamic behaviour of systems is introduced.  Practical cases of failure and success are investigated.

Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Make judgements and apply the dynamic equation with viscous damping
    • Bloom’s Level 5
  2. Evaluate the modal properties and infer the dynamic behaviour of:
    1. structural elements;
    2. multi-degree-of-freedom systems.
    • Bloom’s Level 5
  3. Formulate a design of time integration of systems subjected to base excitation and develop response spectra.
    • Bloom’s Level 6
  4. Plan modal analysis of systems subjected to base excitation:
    1. Harmonic excitation;
    2. Random and earthquake excitation.
    • Bloom’s Level 6
  5. Optimise the effect of non-linearity on the natural frequencies of systems.
    • Bloom’s Level 5
  6. Determine case studies in relation to dynamic behaviour.
    • Bloom’s Level 5

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: Up to topic 3 

After Topic 3 15% 1, 2.a , 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

Topic: Up to topic 6

After Topic 6 25% 1, 2.b,3,4

Assessment 3

Type: Project Report / Practical assessments, Remote labs, Simulation software or Case studies.

Example Topic: Analyse a single-degree-of-freedom system subjected to random and harmonic excitation; and develop response spectra.

Example Topic:  Analyse a single-degree-of-freedom system in the frequency domain.

After Topic 9 25% 1-6

Assessment 4

Type: Project Report

Word length: 4000

Example Topic:  Critical investigation of:

  1. dynamic response of non-linear systems.
  2. commercial software application to dynamic analysis.

a case study of an actual or potential structural failure due to dynamic effects.

After Topic 12 30% 1-6

Tutorial Attendance & Participation

Continuous 5% 1-6

Prescribed and Recommended readings

Required textbook

Chopra, A.K.; “Dynamics of Structures: theory and applications to earthquake engineering”; 5th ed.; Prentice Hall, 2016

Recommended textbook(s)

Clough, R. and Penzien, J.; “Dynamics of Structures”; McGraw-Hill, 1975

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  

  1. Single-degree-of-freedom systems

Topic 2

  1. Free vibration of Single-degree-of-freedom systems
    1. undamped systems;
    2. damped systems.

Topic 3

  1. Harmonic vibration of Single-degree-of-freedom systems

Topic 4

  1. Response to periodic loading of Single-degree-of-freedom systems: Frequency domain analysis

Topic 5

  1. Numerical methods for dynamic response evaluation

Topic 6  

  1. Multi-degree-of-freedom systems: Free vibration
    1. Undamped systems
    2. Eigen value problem

Topic 7

  1. Multi-degree-of-freedom systems: Free vibration responses

Topic 8

  1. Multi-degree-of-freedom systems: Modal Analysis

Topic 9

  1. Earthquake Engineering: Earthquake response of linear systems (SDOF)
    1. Earthquake excitation
    2. Equation of Motion
    3. Response Spectrum

Topic 10

  1. Earthquake Engineering: Earthquake response of non-linear systems (SDOF)

Topic 11

  1. Nonlinear effects - Frequency locking.

Topic 12

  1. Study of a Landmark Structural Failure -- Lessons Learnt -- Tacoma Narrows Bridge (Including the Millennium Bridge and how this failure mechanism was averted)

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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