MEng Aerospace Engineering / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Aerospace and Mechanical Thermodynamics

Course unit fact file
Unit code MECH12012
Credit rating 10
Unit level Level 1
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Available as a free choice unit? No


Industrial nations require sources of energy and power for their industries to function and for their citizens to live, together with energy and power conversion machines, devices and systems to provide power in useful forms. Thermodynamic processes provide many of the means by which power is produced and converted to be useable. Most (if not all) power sources are thermodynamical systems. As the global economy continues to grow, there is an increasing need for engineers who understand the strengths and limitations of thermodynamic devices. This is particularly true in the light of global environmental agreements. This course equips students with the elementary skills needed to embark on the analysis of thermodynamic analysis of thermodynamic devices.  The course is taught using a mix of lectures and examples, with strong support via e-learning. The material covers the zeroth, first and second laws of thermodynamics (open and closed systems), temperature, energy, entropy, ideal gases and vapours.


Thermodynamics defines and describes the properties of energy and its transformation from one form to another.  It is not simply about steam engines but applies to every aspect of engineering involving energy.  As engineers we are often concerned with the analysis, workings and design of large-scale systems such as power plants, heat engines, refrigerators, air conditioning, heat pumps, heat exchangers (e.g. boilers, condensers) etc. and consequently the focus of thermodynamics and this unit is on the macroscopic rather than the microscopic.  The unit aims to provide an introduction to thermodynamics and associated concepts of heat, work, energy and entropy such that students will be able to perform calculations and investigate the performance of thermodynamic systems.  Such systems utilise different working fluids (e.g. gases and liquids) so the unit also explores their thermo-physical properties to enable students to investigate and analyse the behaviour of thermodynamic devices to a greater depth.


• Foundational material: brief introduction to the four laws of thermodynamics, properties of matter, systems (isolated, open and closed), definition of a state and a process; thermal equilibrium and the zeroth law; temperature as a property, energy-conversion machines.
• Work & heat: introduction to the concept of energy conservation; quasi-static processes; forms of work (displacement work, shaft work); are work and heat properties? ; modes of heat transfer (conduction, convection, radiation).
• Energy transport (the first law of thermodynamics): energy as a property and its link to work and heat; cyclic processes; forms of the first law (differential, incremental, rate); applications to closed systems; specific heat capacities (  and  ); specific enthalpy ( ) and Enthalpy ( )
• Working fluids (vapours): pure substances; phase change; equilibrium surface; reading steam tables; dryness fraction (quality); thermodynamic properties for a wet vapour.
• Energy transport (open systems): steady flow energy equation (sfee); unsteady flow energy equation (usfee); simplified forms of the energy equation; application of the sfee; adiabatic machines devices (e.g. turbines; compressors; nozzles; throttles; heat exchangers); conservation properties across devices.
• Working fluid (gases): introduction to ideal and perfect gases; Boyle’s and Joules (second) law; Joule-Thompson effect; equations of state; specific heats for an ideal gas and their ratio; ideal gas in closed and open systems; the molar form of the equation of state; Avogadro’s hypothesis; the universal gas constant; molecular weight; mole; (mean) molar mass for gas mixtures.
• The second law (heat engines): heat engines (direct and reversed); the second law; Carnot principles; thermodynamic temperature scale; reversibility.
• The second law (entropy): entropy; entropy form of the second law; heat engines revisited; transport entropy equation; isentropic processes; T-s state diagrams.

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Written exam 80%
Set exercise 20%

Feedback methods

Exam - via script viewing

Online quiz (set exercise) - immediately after the test

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
eAssessment 2
Lectures 24
Tutorials 19
Independent study hours
Independent study 55

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Amir Keshmiri Unit coordinator

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