Dynamics of Machines & Vehicles (H7092)

15 credits, Level 6

Autumn teaching

This module is about using the laws of physics in an effective way to describe the behavior of just about anything that moves. This could include something as complicated as the motion of a spacecraft to the elegant motion of a dancer.

Dynamics of machines and vehicles is a massively important subject. It covers almost the entire breadth of mechanical and automotive engineering – from the design of a Formula-One car suspension system to the vibration analysis of an Airbus A380 wing. There are a huge number of practical problems out there in the real world that require the tools of dynamics to solve them.

Having the skills in the field of dynamics opens up many career opportunities. You could go on to become a vehicle dynamicist in motor sport through to a vibration analyst in the aerospace industry, especially involved in jet engine fan and turbine blade design.

The module is also important for other parts of your course – especially where there is fluid-structure interaction, such as in wing design or in vehicle and engine technology.

Topics include:

  • kinematic analysis in two and three dimensions
  • dynamic equations of motion for rigid bodies in two dimensions (applications toplane mechanisms)
  • equations of motion for a rigid-body in 3D
  • gyrodynamic effects on rotors
  • balancing of rotating and reciprocating machinery
  • response of linear SDOF systems to general loading (superposition)
  • discrete model types; model construction via Equilibrium/Alembert's Principle, virtual work, and Lagrange equations; discrete dynamic equations for linear MDOF systems
  • orthogonality relations for normal modes; principal coordinates
  • forced vibration analysis of systems with proportional damping
  • superposition principles and frequency response functions for damped 2-DOF systems
  • Rayleigh’s principle.


100%: Lecture


20%: Coursework (Report)
80%: Examination (Unseen examination)

Contact hours and workload

This module is approximately 150 hours of work. This breaks down into about 33 hours of contact time and about 117 hours of independent study. The University may make minor variations to the contact hours for operational reasons, including timetabling requirements.

We regularly review our modules to incorporate student feedback, staff expertise, as well as the latest research and teaching methodology. We’re planning to run these modules in the academic year 2023/24. However, there may be changes to these modules in response to feedback, staff availability, student demand or updates to our curriculum. We’ll make sure to let you know of any material changes to modules at the earliest opportunity.


This module is offered on the following courses: