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ME40212: Biomimetics

[Page last updated: 03 August 2022]

Academic Year: 2022/23
Owning Department/School: Department of Mechanical Engineering
Credits: 6 [equivalent to 12 CATS credits]
Notional Study Hours: 120
Level: Masters UG & PG (FHEQ level 7)
Semester 1
Assessment Summary: CW 100%
Assessment Detail:
  • Literature Review (CW 80%)
  • Artefact Performance (CW 10%)
  • Design Rationale (CW 10%)
Supplementary Assessment:
Like-for-like reassessment (where allowed by programme regulations)
Learning Outcomes: After taking this unit the student should be able to:
* Understand fundamental concepts of biological design such as scaling, hierarchy of structures and materials, designing for high strains and low loads, energy conservation, adaptive design, damage control.
* Understand the implications of biology for advanced engineering and product design.

Aims: To introduce the materials, structures and mechanisms of natural organisms.
To show how organisms can be analysed as engineering structures using standard techniques.
To extract principles of biological structures and reformulate them as engineering structures.
To use concepts from biology to solve problems in engineering.

Skills: Problem solving; written communication; working independently - taught, facilitated and assessed.

Content: Biological fibres, fillers and ceramics; composites; soft structures; inflatable structures; mechanical properties and testing; structural hierarchy; control of fracture; scaling; factors of safety; cellular materials; design of skeletons and other supportive structures; locomotion (walking, running, flying, swimming); power amplification mechanisms; senses; design of plants, prestressing; deployable structures; design of simple robots; tough materials (armour, blast containment); design for fatigue; adaptive structures; smart materials; neural networks; genetic algorithms and programming; structures made by animals and their environmental advantages; architecture. Topics for self study that could be examined.

Programme availability:

ME40212 is Optional on the following programmes:

Department of Electronic & Electrical Engineering
  • UEXX-AFM02 : MEng(Hons) Integrated Mechanical and Electrical Engineering (Year 4)
  • UEXX-AKM02 : MEng(Hons) Integrated Mechanical and Electrical Engineering with Year long work placement (Year 5)
  • UEEE-AFM16 : MEng(Hons) Robotics Engineering (Year 4)
  • UEEE-AKM16 : MEng(Hons) Robotics Engineering with Year long work placement (Year 5)
Department of Mechanical Engineering
  • UEME-AFM04 : MEng(Hons) Aerospace Engineering (Year 4)
  • UEME-AKM04 : MEng(Hons) Aerospace Engineering with Year long work placement (Year 5)
  • UEME-AFM16 : MEng(Hons) Mechanical Engineering (Year 4)
  • UEME-AKM16 : MEng(Hons) Mechanical Engineering with Year long work placement (Year 5)
  • UEME-AFM38 : MEng(Hons) Mechanical Engineering with Manufacturing and Management (Year 4)
  • UEME-AKM38 : MEng(Hons) Mechanical Engineering with Manufacturing and Management with Year long work placement (Year 5)


  • This unit catalogue is applicable for the 2022/23 academic year only. Students continuing their studies into 2023/24 and beyond should not assume that this unit will be available in future years in the format displayed here for 2022/23.
  • Programmes and units are subject to change in accordance with normal University procedures.
  • Availability of units will be subject to constraints such as staff availability, minimum and maximum group sizes, and timetabling factors as well as a student's ability to meet any pre-requisite rules.
  • Find out more about these and other important University terms and conditions here.