Undergraduate Teaching

Engineering Tripos Part IIB, 4A2: Computational Fluid Dynamics, 2016-17

Engineering Tripos Part IIB, 4A2: Computational Fluid Dynamics, 2016-17

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Module Leader

Prof P Tucker


Prof P Tucker

Lab Leader

Prof P Tucker

Timing and Structure

Michaelmas term. Coursework with integrated lectures. Assessment: 100% coursework.


3A1 and 3A3 assumed. Pre-module reading about Fortran helpful


The aims of the course are to:

  • provide an introduction to the field of computational fluid mechanics.
  • help students develop an understanding of how numerical techniques are devised and analysed with solution of fluid flow problems as the target.
  • provide some experience in the software engineering skills associated with the implementation of these techniques in practical computer codes.
  • illuminate some of the difficulties encountered in the numerical solution of fluid flow problems.
  • Overview the nature of simulation in the future and advanced methods relating to this


As specific objectives, by the end of the course students should be able to:

  • formulate numerical approximations to partial differential equations.
  • write computer programs for solving the resulting difference equations.
  • understand the limitations of numerical methods and the compromises between accuracy and mean time.
  • appreciate the power of numerical solutions to predict complex flows, including shock waves.
  • develop the critical skills necessary to respond to and audit simulations produced by CFD for complex flow problems.


This is a course work based project.  The students have to write a Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) program - in Euler mode with time marching. There is also some basic mesh generation, preprocessing and post processing tasks.  The assessment is through two reports. The first report demonstrates the performance of a basic CFD program and some discussion on general aspects of CFD. This needs to be handed in week 6 of the Michaelmas term. The 2nd report demonstrates the coding and performance of more advanced CFD algorithms with discussion on a selected advanced CFD topic. The performance and traits of the extended CFD code are contrasted with expected traits for a range of subsonic and transonic flows. The final report is handed in at the end of the Michaelmas term. The course also allows for some creativity through the design of novel algorithmic approaches. 

Introduction and Basic Numerical Concepts (2L including examples, plus demonstrations)

  • The proper use of CFD and the equations used
  • Finite difference, finite volume, finite element approaches
  • Difference scheme and molecules;
  • Stability
  • Dispersion and Diffusion errors, Cell Re.
  • Boundary conditions

Introduction to Advanced Concepts (6L) (Prof. P.G. Tucker)

  • Advanced numerical techniques
  • Turbulence modelling
  • Mesh generation
  • Advanced simulation
  • Aerospace CFD in industry lecture
  • Pre and post processing


Progress Check/Brief Report/Week 6 of Michaelmas term/25%
Coursework/Report/End of Michaelmas term/75%

Mesh Generation and Preprocessing (Coursework: approx 2 hours)

  • Conversion to Fortran; examples of Fortran programs
  • Mesh generation for simplified geometries (eg bend, nozzle, hump, airfoil)
  • Preprocessing

2-D Euler, Time Marching CFD Program

(Coursework: 5 mini-exercises of about 2-4 hours each, forming a 16 hour mini-project)

  1. Finite volume discretisation, evaluation of fluxes. (4h)
  2. Application of boundary conditions. (2h)
  3. Time Iteration, simple LAX method. (2h)
  4. Convergence & accuracy testing. (4h)
  5. Enhancements, e.g. deferred corrections, Adams - Bashforth RK integration, use of energy equation. (4h)
  6. Exploration of post-processing 


Please see the Booklist for Group A Courses for references for this module.


Main course text is:

Tucker P. G. 2016. Advanced computational fluid and aerodynamics, Cambridge University Press, ISBN: 9781107428836.


Also, useful advanced material can be found in this text.

Tucker P. G. 2013. Unsteady computational fluid dynamics in aeronautics, Springer, ISBN 978-94-007-7048-5.


Please refer to Form & conduct of the examinations.


The UK Standard for Professional Engineering Competence (UK-SPEC) describes the requirements that have to be met in order to become a Chartered Engineer, and gives examples of ways of doing this.

UK-SPEC is published by the Engineering Council on behalf of the UK engineering profession. The standard has been developed, and is regularly updated, by panels representing professional engineering institutions, employers and engineering educators. Of particular relevance here is the 'Accreditation of Higher Education Programmes' (AHEP) document which sets out the standard for degree accreditation.

The Output Standards Matrices indicate where each of the Output Criteria as specified in the AHEP 3rd edition document is addressed within the Engineering and Manufacturing Engineering Triposes.

Last modified: 31/05/2016 09:10