Skip to main content


CEG8313 : Structural Collapse Dynamics and Multiscale Modelling

  • Offered for Year: 2021/22
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Enrico Masoero
  • Owning School: Engineering
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 5.0


To provide the students with the ability to analyse and model the multi-scale processes involved in the nonlinear dynamic response and collapse of structures.

To provide skills for designing and performing simulations of structural collapse and material’s failure.

Earthquakes, explosions, and impacts, are rare hazardous events that induce strongly nonlinear dynamic responses in civil structures, often leading to disproportionate damage and collapse. The dynamic propagation of damage spans multiple length and time scales. Damage nucleates in the microstructure of the materials, spreads to individual structural elements, and eventually propagates to the whole structure. The traditional approach to safety in design is inappropriate to deal with such complex, multi-scale dynamics. Therefore new design concepts have been introduced in the last decades, which include analyses based on energy conservation and, more recently, fully nonlinear dynamic computer simulations.

The theoretical foundations of simulations based on the Discrete Element Method will be taught in this module. Emphasis will be put on the role of interactions between discrete elements at different scales (atoms, nanoparticles, granular matter, and buildings). This will provide a common ground to both introduce some modern approaches to collapse-resistant design, and to model the micromechanical behaviour of materials subjected to stress and thermal actions.

Outline Of Syllabus

•       Introduction to the multi-scale processes involved in the collapse of structures
•       Explicit time integration scheme
•       Interaction forces and potentials
•       Energy conservation and energy minimization
•       Principles of collapse-resistant design
•       Application of discrete modelling to problems within a range of different length and time scales (this implies learning and using a computer program to perform simulations of structural collapse and other dynamic systems)

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials101:0010:00Online non-synchronous, pre-recorded video-lectures.
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials51:005:00PiP lectures/module talks, guiding through the Asynchronous content, Plan B: Synchronous online
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion120:0020:00Coursework Prep
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching51:005:00Tutorials on numerical exercises (present in person, non-essential). Contact time.
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery51:005:00Support with software (online synchronous)
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study150:205:00Online non-synchronous pre-recorded materials, including e.g. VLE quizzes
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study140:0040:00Includes background reading and reading lecture notes for a full understanding of material.
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study101:0010:00To digest the online synchronous content
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures will provide the necessary introduction to new concepts and methodologies. The tutorials will consist mainly in implementing several computer models of structures and materials, to then simulate their nonlinear dynamic behaviour. The tutorials provide an ideal environment for discussion and interactive learning, which will effectively put into practice the theoretical concepts introduced during the lectures.
Alternatives will be offered to students unable to be present-in-person due to the prevailing C-19 circumstances.
Student’s should consult their individual timetable for up-to-date delivery information.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written Examination901A100Numerical exercises and questions linked to computer labs
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Part A of the assessment (multiple choice and numerical exercises) will be mainly focused on the theoretical concept transmitted during the course. Part B (extended question) will assess the level of maturity and depth of understanding acquired by the students in relation to the sample problems assigned and partly developed during the tutorials.
Overall, the assessment will cover both the theoretical and the applied part of the course content, in line with the proposed Learning Outcomes.

Reading Lists