Studying online

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Unit Overview


The aim of this unit is for students to gain a quantitative understanding of fluid behaviour, and be able to apply this knowledge to solve a wide range of engineering fluid mechanics problems. There is a range of learning activities in this unit, including lectures, problem-based tutorials, laboratory activities, the fluid mechanics photography competition, and optional ‘master classes' on everyday fluid phenomena (such as the fluid dynamics of sport, kitchen fluid mechanics, the automatic shut-off of a petrol pump and scaling relationships in the natural world). Topics covered include:

(1) Equations of fluid motion applied to a control volume: Principles of conservation of mass, momentum and energy applied to a fluid volume, key fluid properties including viscosity, surface tension and specific gravity.

(2) Dimensional analysis and similitude: Using the Buckingham-pi theorem to determine the dimensionless parameters that govern fluid systems, using dimensional analysis to get order of magnitude solutions to complex problems, designing models of fluid systems.

(3) Pipe flow: Evaluating the dissipation of mechanical energy in pipe flow due to friction and turbulence, predicting flow velocities, flowrates and pressures in pipes, use of pump curves to predict flowrates in pump-pipe systems;

(4) Open-channel flow: Manning's equation for predicting the depth of uniform open-channel flow, using specific energy curves to predict changes in depth in rapidly-varied flows, quantifying the depth increase and energy dissipation across hydraulic jumps;

(5) Equations of fluid motion in differential form: Principles of conservation of mass and momentum in differential form, solving the Navier-Stokes equations to determine profiles of velocity, shear stress and pressure in planar flows;

(6) An introduction to key fluid mechanics phenomena including turbulence, boundary layers, drag and lift and waves.

6 points
(see Timetable)
Semester 2UWA (Perth)Face to face

Students are able to (1) apply the fundamental conservation laws of fluid mechanics (mass, momentum, energy) to solve industry-relevant engineering problems; (2) understand the dimensionless parameters that control a wide range of fluid mechanics phenomena, and use the principle of dynamic similarity to design models whose fluid mechanics replicate those of the prototype; (3) quantify energy dissipation due to friction and turbulence to predict flowrates in piping systems, and define the influence of pipe and pump characteristics on these flowrates; (4) use the relationship between flow energy and depth to predict the depth (and its variation) in open-channel flows; (5) develop solutions to the Navier-Stokes equations to determine profiles of velocity, shear stress and pressure in planar flows; and (6) provide visual illustration of a striking fluid mechanics phenomenon, and explain the mechanics underlying the phenomenon.


Indicative assessments in this unit are as follows: (1) tests; (2) photography competition; and (3) laboratory test. Further information is available in the unit outline.

Student may be offered supplementary assessment in this unit if they meet the eligibility criteria.

Unit Coordinator(s)
Associate Professor Marco Ghisalberti
Unit rules
Successful completion of level 1 18 points
and level 2 Unit(s) taken from the degree-specific MJD-ENGSC Engineering Science , including MATH1001 Mathematical Methods 1
( MATH1011 Multivariable Calculus
or MATX1011 Multivariable Calculus
MATH1012 Mathematical Theory and Methods
or MATX1012 Mathematical Theory and Methods
ENSC3003 Fluid Mechanics
Advisable prior study
ENSC2001 Motion
or ENSC2004 Engineering Mechanics
Contact hours
lectures: 3 hours per week
practical classes: 3 hours per week
labs: 6 hours per semester
Enrolled students can access unit material via the LMS (Learning Management System).

Cengel, Y. A. and Cimbala, J. M. Fluid Mechanics: Fundamentals and Applications, 2nd edn: McGraw-Hill 2010

  • The availability of units in Semester 1, 2, etc. was correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change.
  • All students are responsible for identifying when they need assistance to improve their academic learning, research, English language and numeracy skills; seeking out the services and resources available to help them; and applying what they learn. Students are encouraged to register for free online support through GETSmart; to help themselves to the extensive range of resources on UWA's STUDYSmarter website; and to participate in WRITESmart and (ma+hs)Smart drop-ins and workshops.
  • Unit readings, including any essential textbooks, are listed in the unit outline for each unit, one week prior the commencement of study. The unit outline will be available via the LMS and the UWA Handbook one week prior the commencement of study. Reading lists and essential textbooks are subject to change each semester. Information on essential textbooks will also be made available on the Essential Textbooks. This website is updated regularly in the lead up to semester so content may change. It is recommended that students purchase essential textbooks for convenience due to the frequency with which they will be required during the unit. A limited number of textbooks will be made available from the Library in print and will also be made available online wherever possible. Essential textbooks can be purchased from the commercial vendors to secure the best deal. The Student Guild can provide assistance on where to purchase books if required. Books can be purchased second hand at the Guild Secondhand bookshop (second floor, Guild Village), which is located on campus.
  • Contact hours provide an indication of the type and extent of in-class activities this unit may contain. The total amount of student work (including contact hours, assessment time, and self-study) will approximate 150 hours per 6 credit points.