Last Updated S022019


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

  1. Evaluate the modal properties and infer the dynamic behaviour of:
    1. structural elements;
    2. multi-degree-of-freedom systems.

      Bloom’s Level 5

  1. Formulate a design of time integration of systems subjected to base excitation and develop response spectra.

      Bloom’s Level 6

  1. Plan modal analysis of systems subjected to base excitation:
    1. Harmonic excitation;
    2. Random and earthquake excitation.

      Bloom’s Level 6

  1. Optimise the effect of non-linearity on the natural frequencies of systems.

      Bloom’s Level 5

  1. 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 multi-degree-of-freedom system in the frequency domain.

After Topic 11 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 and 2

Vibration of Single-degree-of-freedom systems:

  1. undamped systems - Simple harmonic motion;
  2. damped systems.


Topic 3

Time domain analysis techniques and development of response spectra


Topic 4 and 5

Frequency domain analysis


Topic 6 to 8

Modal analysis of multi-degree-of-freedom systems:

  1. The Eigenvalue problem.
  2. Analysis of multi-storey frames.
  3. Modal analysis and design under the effect of earthquake excitations. 

Topic 9 and 10

Earthquake Engineering:

  1. Earthquake records.
  2. Modal analysis and equivalent static loads.
  3. Design procedures.

Topic 11

Nonlinear effects - Frequency locking.

Topic 12

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

Software/Hardware Used


  • Software: N/A

  • Version: N/A

  • Instructions:  N/A

  • Additional resources or files: N/A


  • N/A