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MEng Chemical Engineering / Course details

Year of entry: 2021

Course unit details:
Computational Methods for Chemical Engineering

Unit code CHEN10050
Credit rating 10
Unit level Level 1
Teaching period(s) Full year
Offered by Department of Chemical Engineering & Analytical Science
Available as a free choice unit? No


Advanced use of Microsoft Excel:

Data input, manipulation and graphical representation; Advanced built-in and user-defined functions; Optimisation, root-finding and non-linear regression using Excel Solver.


Programming with MATLAB:

Introduction to the use of computers in Chemical Engineering.


Data handling: Significant figures; Accuracy and precision; Error definitions; Round-off and truncation errors.


Introduction to MATLAB: The scientific computing environment; Types of variables; Number formats; Mathematical operations; Built-in functions; Graphical display of data.


Programming 1: Notion of algorithm; m-files structure; Indentation; Writing programs and user-defined functions; Program debugging; Data input and output.


Programming 2: Structured programming with conditional statements and loops (for and while)


Problem solving in Chemical Engineering using numerical methods: Roots of equations; One-dimensional and multidimensional optimisation; Systems of linear algebraic equations; Numerical integration; Ordinary differential equations.




The unit aims to:

Provide the advanced computational skills required for solving complex problems in Engineering and Science.


Learning outcomes

1.Represent numerical data with the appropriate number of significant figures and estimate errors in numerical calculations.

2.Use MS Excel and MATLAB to organise and manipulate numerical data, and represent it graphically.

3.Identify the appropriate numerical method to solve a complex mathematical problem.

4.Develop algorithms to solve numerically mathematical models of physical and chemical systems in Chemical Engineering.

5.Translate algorithms into MATLAB codes using structured programming.

Teaching and learning methods

1.Self-study learning experience on the advanced use of MS Excel in Chemical Engineering through the use of tutorials and exercises.

2.Lectures on theoretical and practical aspects of programming and numerical methods with MATLAB, with worked examples.

3.Practical sessions where students will be able to address any queries on the proposed MATLAB exercises.


A discussion forum will be created on Blackboard as a platform for Q&A where students are encouraged to help each other. Practice tests will be made available during the year on Blackboard. All the lecture notes will be uploaded to Blackboard.

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Other 30%
Written exam 70%

Assessment task


Weighting within unit (if relevant)

Continuous assessment



Exam style assessment




Feedback methods


Assessment task

How and when feedback is provided



Generic exam feedback form after exam board

Online test on Excel

Final mark only one week after the assessment.


Recommended reading

1) Steven C. Chapra (2018). Applied Numerical Methods with MATLAB for Engineers and Scientists, 4th Ed, McGraw-Hill Education. ISBN: 9780073397962.

2) Les Kirkup (2011). Data analysis for physical scientists: featuring Excel, 2nd Ed, Cambridge University Press. ISBN: 0521883725.


Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 12
Practical classes & workshops 12
Independent study hours
Independent study 76

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Claudio Pereira da Fonte 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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