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MMath Mathematics / Course details

Year of entry: 2021

Course unit details:
Continuum Mechanics

Unit code MATH45061
Credit rating 15
Unit level Level 4
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by Department of Mathematics
Available as a free choice unit? No


This unit describes the fundamental theory of continuum mechanics in a unified mathematical framework. The unit will cover the formulation of governing conservation and balance laws in generalised coordinates in both Eulerian and Lagrangian viewpoints. Specific examples of constitutive modelling will be developed via the theories of nonlinear and linear elasticity together with those of compressible and incompressible fluid mechanics.


Unit title Unit code Requirement type Description
Viscous Fluid Flow MATH35001 Pre-Requisite Recommended
Elasticity MATH35021 Pre-Requisite Recommended
Partial Differential Equations and Vector Calculus A MATH20401 Pre-Requisite Compulsory
Partial Differential Equations and Vector Calculus B MATH20411 Pre-Requisite Compulsory

Students are not permitted to take, for credit, MATH45061 in an undergraduate programme and then MATH65061 in a postgraduate programme at the University of Manchester, as the courses are identical.


The course unit concerns the formulation and solution of problems in continuum mechanics (solid and fluid mechanics)  from a modern unified perspective. The aims are (i) to introduce students to the general analytic machinery of tensor calculus, variational principles and conservation laws in order to formulate governing equations; (ii) to illustrate the principles of constitutive modelling; and (iii) to make students aware of some exact, approximate and numerical methods to solve the resulting equations.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this course unit students will be able to: 

  • Use tensor algebra and calculus for calculations and derivations in general (curvilinear) coordinates.
  • Derive the governing equations of continuum mechanics from Lagrangian and Eulerian viewpoints using the divergence and Reynolds transport theorems and use the same principles to extend the derivations to previously unseen situations.
  • Determine whether particular vectors, tensors and derivatives are objective and explain the concept of objectivity.
  • Use the Clausis-Duhem inequality to derive thermodynamically consistent constitutive laws and determine any implied constraints.
  • Use the general theory to formulate and solve problems in linear and nonlinear elasticity and compressible and incompressible fluid mechanics.
  • Solve idealised problems in continuum mechanics analytically in spherical, cylindrical and Cartesian coordinates.
  • Be able to convert the physical description of a problem in continuum mechanics into the appropriate governing equations and boundary conditions and, conversely, provide a physical interpretation for the solutions.


  • Introduction [4]: Vectors, tensors, co- and contra-variant transformation laws, invariance concepts, metric tensor, tensor calculus, divergence theorem.
  • Kinematics [4]: Deformation maps, Lagrangean and Eulerian viewpoints, displacement, velocity and acceleration, material derivative, strain measures, strain invariants, deformation rates, Reynolds transport theorem. 
  • Forces, momentum & stress [3]: The continuum hypothesis, linear and angular momenta, stress tensors, equations of equilibrium.
  • Conservation and Balance Laws & Thermodynamics [3]: Conservation of mass and energy, balance of linear and angular momenta, work conjugacy, temperature and heat, first and second laws of thermodynamics, Clausius--Duhem inequality.
  • Constitutive Modelling [3]: Introduction to constitutive relationships, axiom of objectivity, objective deformation rates, constitutive modelling for an ideal gas.
  • Elasticity [5]: Constitutive modelling for thermoelastic materials, Hyperelastic materials, strain energy function, homogeneous, isotropic materials, incompressibility constraints, example analytic solutions, boundary conditions, linear thermoelasticity and reduction to Navier--Lame equations.
  • Fluid Mechanics [5]: Constitutive modelling for fluids, isotropic fluids, Newtonian and Reiner--Rivlin fluids, example analytic solutions, boundary conditions, reduction to Navier--Stokes equations.

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Other 20%
Written exam 80%
  • Coursework - 20%: two assignments, each worth 10%; each should take aprox 7 hours.
  • End of semester examination: weighting 80%

Feedback methods

Tutorials represent the principal forum for feedback, providing an opportunity for students' work on example sheet questions and the coursework to be discussed. There are two coursework assignments in the form of extended calculations that both test understanding and provide opportunities for further feedback. Students can also get feedback on their understanding directly from the lecturer by making an appointment, for example during the lecturer's office hours.

Recommended reading

  • Spencer, A.J.M, "Continuum Mechanics", Dover
  • Gonzalez, O. and Stuart, A.M., "A first course in continuum mechanics", CUP
  • Irgens, F., "Continuum Mechanics", Springer

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 27
Tutorials 6
Independent study hours
Independent study 117

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Andrew Hazel Unit coordinator

Additional notes

This course unit detail provides the framework for delivery in 20/21 and may be subject to change due to any additional Covid-19 impact.  

Please see Blackboard / course unit related emails for any further updates.

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