To help you decide where to start, DegreeTutors courses are arranged into suggested learning pathways.

Learning pathways are a suggested sequence for completing DegreeTutors courses rather than strict prerequisites. For example, if you just want to learn the Moment Distribution Method, you can jump straight into Indeterminate Structures & The Moment Distribution Method. But if you’re not comfortable drawing bending moment diagrams, it might be sensible to start with Mastering Shear Force and Bending Moment Diagrams. If you want a bit more guidance on how to approach learning structural analysis I’ve written a detailed roadmap here.

If you’re completely new to engineering mechanics and structural analysis, start here. We’ll cover the fundamental concepts that underpin everything that follows. This will set you up well to progress onto any of the following pathways.

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Pathway A:

Shear and moment diagrams for determinate and indeterminate structures

This pathway focuses on developing your understanding of Shear Forces and Bending Moments. After completing this pathway, you will be confident completing a bending moment and shear force evaluation for any beam or frame structure. You will also have enhanced your intuition for qualitative structural behaviour.

In this course you’ll develop a sound understanding of techniques applied to statically determinate beams and frames.

This course contains worked examples to help you further embed the skills you’ve developed in the preceding course.

Now we move on to learn about the moment distribution method for analysing statically indeterminate beams and frames. This will massively broaden the range of structures you can analyse.

Following the same approach of learn then practice, this course of examples will help further hone your analysis skills.

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Pathway B:

Deflections in statically determinate and indeterminate structures using Virtual Work techniques

In Pathway B we introduce the Principle of Virtual Work. We’ll harness the power in this simple but elegant principle and use it to analyse a range of determinate and indeterminate structures. After completing this pathway, you will be confident hand-analysing structures that may have previously left you stumped.

We’ll start by developing an understanding of the Principle of Virtual Work and how to leverage it for analysis of axially loaded members. This will allow us to determine forces, reactions and deflections in pin-jointed truss structures.

We’ll move on to apply Virtual Work to statically determinate beam and frame structures. After completing this course you will have expanded your toolbox to be able to calculate deflections in beams and frames.

In this course you will utilise everything you’ve learned so far to analyse indeterminate structures consisting of both bending and axially loaded members.

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Pathway C:

Structural dynamics and numerical analysis with Python

This pathway aims to develop your understanding of structural dynamics and build your comfort level analysing the influence of dynamic loading. Courses in this pathway make use of Python in the Jupyter Notebook environment. You don’t need to know Python to work through this pathway, you’ll learn the Python you need along the way. 

This course focuses on nailing down core concepts in structural dynamics. But rather than a typical ‘Intro to Dynamics’ course, we’ll use our knowledge of the fundamentals to build a numerical analysis algorithm that you can deploy in the real world.

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2. Multi-Degree of Freedom Dynamics, Modal Analysis and Seismic Response Simulation in Python

In this course, we build on your knowledge of fundamental dynamics and expand into multi-degree of freedom systems. A central aim of this course is to help you become proficient in modal analysis; probably one of the most widely used dynamic analysis techniques.
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Pathway D:

Matrix Methods of Structural Analysis

Pathway D is focused on developing your knowledge of matrix methods of structural analysis. This pathway will help you develop a suite of programmatic structural analysis tools that leverage the power and speed of computers. Complete Python beginners can take these courses. You will learn the Python you need simply by working through each course (the best way to learn programming!)

This course  introduces you to the Direct Stiffness Method. This is the fundamental finite element analysis method. The aim of this course is to build your own generalised truss analysis programme and build the foundation for a more complex solver in the next course.

In this course you’ll develop a solver that handles structures subject to shear and bending. By the time you complete the course, your generalised beam and frame solver will be able to output shear force diagrams, bending moment diagrams and deflected shapes.

Next we move to 3D! We’ll expand on the code we wrote in The Direct Stiffness Method for Truss Analysis with Python, to accommodate 3D space frame structures. This course also introduced you to Blender, a powerful open source 3D modelling software that makes the process of developing 3D structural models much faster.

This course takes beam and frame analysis into the 3D world. You will build on what you learned in all three previous courses to develop your own feature rich 3D structural analysis programme. At this point in the pathway, you will have mastered the direct stiffness method and have a suite of structural analysis tools at your disposal.

This course introduces the Isoparametric Finite Element Method. You should be comfortable jumping to this course after completing the first course in this pathway. After completing this course you will have a suite of tools to analyse 2D plane stress and plane strain structures. You’ll have an excellent understanding of stress analysis, principal stresses and even von Mises failure criterion.

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Pathway E:

Iterative Numerical Analysis for Geometric Non-linearity

This pathway relies heavily on the matrix methods of analysis explored in Pathway D. However, in this pathway we focus on implementing them in an iterative manner. This allows us to tackle non-linear structural behaviours that require approximate solutions. In this pathway, you’ll really start to appreciate the power of programming as a tool for structural analysis.
This course is our first introduction to finite element analysis of non-linear structures. In this course, we’ll build an iterative solver based on the Newton-Raphson method. Our solver will simulate the behaviour of axially loaded structures that undergo large deflections. We’ll place particular emphasis on cable structures as these are classicly geometrically non-linear and a real challenge to simulate.
This course builds directly on what you learned (and built) in the 2D course. We’ll be extending into 3D structures which opens the door to more complex geometry and interesting structural forms. Modelling and form-finding stable structural geometry become a challenge for 3-dimensional tensile structures. So we’ll also explore ways of ‘finding’ stable structural forms through simulation.