Last Updated S012021


Unit Name Design Of High Rise Structures And Bridges
Unit Code MCS605
Unit Duration 1 Term (online) or 1 Semester (on-campus)

Master of Engineering (Civil: Structural)

Duration: 2 years   

Year Level 2nd
Unit Creator / Reviewer Associate Prof Charles Clifton and Prof Jason Ingham
Core/Elective: Core

MCS507 - Structural Dynamics,

MCS602 - Advanced Structural Engineering Methods
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

With advances in technology and continually increasing aspirations, society is seeing trends in structural engineering towards the construction of ever-taller buildings and ever-longer and more complex bridges. This unit looks at these two structural forms in greater detail, beginning with a focus on high rise building design.  Attention is first given to structural forms commonly adopted for high rise design and the distribution of vertical and lateral design loads.  Methods of analysis are next considered for both serviceability and ultimate limit state design and for both static and dynamic analysis. The study on high rise buildings concludes with a critique of construction and durability issues specific to this structural type.

The second part of the course switches to a focus on bridge design, beginning with a review of different bridge types and their associated load paths, including a review of different types of bridge decks. Loading conditions for bridges are studied next, including gravity and lateral loads but also temperature and time-dependent design considerations. The unit concludes with a focus on design procedures for the most common bridge forms and case studies related to both successful and unsuccessful bridges designs.

Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Make judgements and be familiar with the most commonly encountered structural forms for high rise buildings and for bridges
    • Bloom’s Level 5
  2. Formulate a design load combinations suitable for high rise buildings and for bridges
    • Bloom’s Level 6
  3. Determine static and dynamic analysis of both high rise buildings and bridges
    • Bloom’s Level 5
  4. Optimise preliminary design for different floor types that are most commonly used in high rise building and for different bridge deck types that are most commonly encountered in bridges
    • Bloom’s Level 5
  5. Propose important aspects of construction sequencing for high rise buildings and for bridges
    • Bloom’s Level 6
  6. Synthesise some of the most well-known failures for high rise building and bridges, as a guide to inform correct design in future
    • 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)

Topics: Up to topic 4

After Topic 4 15% 1, 2

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

Example Topic: Structural forms, loads and floor systems for tall buildings

After Topic 6 25% 1-3

Assessment 3

Type: Design Project Report

Word length: n/a

Example Topic: Preliminary design for a multi-storey building including dynamic analysis and construction sequencing

After Topic 9 25% 1- 5

Assessment 4

Type: Design Project Report

Word length: n/a

Example Topic: Preliminary design for a bridge including dynamic analysis and construction sequencing

After Topic 12  30%  1-6

Tutorial Attendance & Participation

Continuous 5% 1 - 6

Prescribed and Recommended readings

Required textbook(s)

  1. Bridge Engineering Handbook Fundamentals (2014), Edited By Wai-Fah Chen, Lian Duan, 2nd Edition, CRC Press (

Recommended textbook(s)

  1. Taranath, B.S. (2016). Structural Analysis and Design of Tall Buildings: Steel and Composite Construction’, CRC Press.
  2. Zhao, J. J. and Tonias, D. E. (2017). ‘Bridge Engineering: Design, Rehabilitation, and Maintenance of Modern Highway Bridges, 4th Edition, McGraw Hill.

Reference Materials

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

  1. Resources from the American Institute of Steel Construction website (
  2. Other 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

Structural forms for multi-storey buildings

  1. Structural forms and load paths.
  2. Lateral load resisting systems.
  3. Gravity load resisting systems.
  4. Design loads

Topic 2

Multi-storey building limit states and analysis

  1. Serviceability and ultimate limit states overview.
  2. Sub-assemblage analysis for preliminary design.
  3. Stability and second order effects.
  4. Methods of static and dynamic analysis.

Topic 3

Building floor system design

  1. One way and two way in-situ concrete floor systems.
  2. Composite steel/concrete floor systems.
  3. Precast concrete + topping floor system.

Topic 4

Dynamic response of tall building

  1. Dynamic response to lateral loading.
  2. Serviceability and ultimate limit states.

Topic 5

Building construction

  1. Construction sequencing.
  2. Differential shortening.
  3. Durability.
  4. Maintenance.

Topic 6

Structural forms for bridges

  1. Types of bridges.
  2. Types of bridge decks.
  3. Structural forms and load paths.

Topic 7

Bridge load cases and combinations

  1. Dead load.
  2. Static and dynamic vehicle loads.
  3. Temperature effects.
  4. Creep and shrinkage effects.
  5. Static and dynamic wind loads.
  6. Static and dynamic earthquake loads.
  7. Fatigue loads.
  8. Load combinations.

Topic 8

Bridge flat slabs

  1. Flat slab loads.
  2. Flat slab design.

Topic 9

Bridge slab and deck

  1. Deck loads.
  2. Deck design.

Topic 10

Bridge box girder

  1. Box girder loads.
  2. Box girder design.

Topic 11

Case study building failure

Citicorp Centre in New York.

Topic 12

Case study bridge failure

  1. Tennessee River Bridge Collapse in 1995.
  2. I35 interstate bridge collapse.
  3. Derwent River bridge in Hobart in 1975.

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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