USQ LogoCourse specification
The current and official versions of the course specifications are available on the web at //
Please consult the web for updates that may occur during the year.

CIV8801 Code-Based Structural Design

Semester 1, 2014 Online Toowoomba
Units : 1
Faculty or Section : Faculty of Health, Engineering and Sciences
School or Department : School of Civil Engineering and Surveying

Contents on this page


Examiner: Yan Zhuge
Moderator: Karu Karunasena


Contemporary structural engineering design uses computer frame analysis software to determine the deflections, forces and bending moments in a structure due to a set of loads. These computer generated results are then used in the application of code based design methods. This course is not about structural design in general. It focuses on the particular knowledge and skills necessary to develop a correct computer model of a structure and on the interpretation and design application of information generated by the computer analysis. This is a highly practical and hands on course designed to develop responsible and informed proficiency in the use of computer analysis for structural design.


Structural engineering design is a continually evolving process. The development of computer analysis tools has had a massive impact on what engineers do in their day to day work. Twenty or thirty years ago structural engineers needed proficiency in a wide range of manual calculation methods to analyse structures. A set of "design calculations" at the time was likely to include extensive pages of detailed numerical workings. Some may argue that proficiency with such hand calculation methods remains useful to a design engineer but such skills are no longer essential. What is essential is a sophisticated and informed understanding of how to model a structure in a computer so that the model conforms both with reality and with the expectations of the design codes. Using a process of learning by discovery, the student is guided through a series of discussions and investigative computer modelling exercises. These demonstrate how very minor modelling changes can lead to very different "answers". The course looks in considerable detail at approximate methods of analysis that can be used both to enhance the students understanding of a structural system and as a check of computer analysis results. The course takes the opportunity to use computer modelling to investigate various structural phenomena and to consolidate and extend undergraduate understanding of design principles. There is significant emphasis placed on the development of meaningful computer aided design calculations that record modelling assumptions and the primary analysis output.


The course objectives define the student learning outcomes for a course. On completion of the course, students should be able to:

  1. display proficiency in developing Space Gass models for the analysis of steel and reinforced concrete structures;
  2. clearly document Space Gass models and results;
  3. demonstrate a disciplined approach to structural modelling including self checking;
  4. competently select and use a variety of approximate methods of analysis that may be used to check the validity of computer models;
  5. demonstrate possession of a detailed appreciation and understanding of the compromises that are made in modelling of steel and reinforced concrete structures;
  6. demonstrate a broad understanding of load estimation over the full range of building, civil, industrial and maritime type structures.


Description Weighting(%)
1. Basic inputs to Space Gass Model 10.00
2. Restraints, local axes and member releases 10.00
3. Approximate analysis 20.00
4. Modelling Steel Structures 20.00
5. Modelling loads 15.00
6. Modelling Reinforced Concrete Structures 15.00
7. Steel Connection Design 10.00

Text and materials required to be purchased or accessed

ALL textbooks and materials available to be purchased can be sourced from USQ's Online Bookshop (unless otherwise stated). (

Please contact us for alternative purchase options from USQ Bookshop. (

  • Australian Standard AS1170, Structural design actions, parts 0, 1 and 2, Standards Australia.
  • Australian Standard AS3600, Concrete structures, Standards Australia.
  • Australian Standard AS4100, Steel structures, Standards Australia.
  • The course is heavily dependent on the use of the frame analysis software Space Gass by Integrated Technical Software including the modules for Linear Analysis, Non linear Analysis and Buckling Analysis. Enrolled students have the opportunity to download an academic version of Space Gass that is adequate for the purposes of this course. Note that the use of Space Gass in this course is in no way intended to imply that it is in any way superior to other commercially available packages.
  • The primary Study Book for this course is available for download in pdf format for all enrolled students. The course does make reference to the primary Australian structural design codes but only with respect to issues related to modelling for analysis. Students who are already familiar with the Australian codes or some other equivalent international codes should find that they have little need to refer to the codes or other texts for the purposes of completing this course. Students who are unfamiliar with the primary structural engineering design codes should have access to the above codes. These are available for download in pdf form from the University of Southern Queensland Student Library to all enrolled students.

Reference materials

Reference materials are materials that, if accessed by students, may improve their knowledge and understanding of the material in the course and enrich their learning experience.
  • Hogan, TJ & Thomas, IR 1994, Design of structural connections, 4th edn, Australian Institute of Steel Construction, North Sydney.
    (Limit States edn.)
  • Trahair, NS & Bradford, MA 1998, The behaviour and design of steel structures to AS4100, 3rd edn, E & FN Spoon, London.
    (Australian edn.)
  • Warner, RF, Rangan, BV, Hall, AS & Faulkes, KA 1998, Concrete structures, Longman, South Melbourne, Vic.
  • Australian Standard AS4997, Guidelines for the design of maritime structures, Standards Australia.
  • Australian Standard AS5100, Bridge design, part 2 - design loads, Standards Australia.

Student workload requirements

Activity Hours
Assessments 55.00
Directed Study 55.00
Private Study 55.00

Assessment details

Description Marks out of Wtg (%) Due Date Notes
ASSIGNMENT 1 300 30 31 Mar 2014
ASSIGNMENT 2 350 35 05 May 2014
ASSIGNMENT 3 350 35 10 Jun 2014

Important assessment information

  1. Attendance requirements:
    There are no attendance requirements for this course. However, it is the students' responsibility to study all material provided to them or required to be accessed by them to maximise their chance of meeting the objectives of the course and to be informed of course-related activities and administration.

  2. Requirements for students to complete each assessment item satisfactorily:
    To satisfactorily complete an assessment item a student must achieve at least 50% of the marks or a grade of at least C-. Refer to Statement 4 below for the requirements to receive a passing grade in this course.

  3. Penalties for late submission of required work:
    Students should refer to the Assessment Procedure (point 4.2.4)

  4. Requirements for student to be awarded a passing grade in the course:
    To be assured of receiving a passing grade in a course a student must obtain at least 50% of the total weighted marks for the course.

  5. Method used to combine assessment results to attain final grade:
    The final grades for students will be assigned on the basis of the weighted aggregate of the marks (or grades) obtained for each of the summative assessment items in the course.

  6. Examination information:
    There is no examination in this course.

  7. Examination period when Deferred/Supplementary examinations will be held:
    Not applicable.

  8. University Student Policies:
    Students should read the USQ policies: Definitions, Assessment and Student Academic Misconduct to avoid actions which might contravene University policies and practices. These policies can be found at

Assessment notes

  1. The due date for an assignment is the date by which a student must email the assignment to USQ. The onus in on the student to provide proof of the dispatch date, if requested by the Examiner.

  2. Students must retain a copy of each item submitted for assessment. This must be dispatched to USQ within 24 hours if required by the Examiner.

  3. In accordance with University Policy, the Examiner may grant an extension of the due date of an assignment in extenuating circumstances.

  4. If electronic submission of assessments is specified for the course, students will be notified of this in the course Introductory Book and on the USQ Study Desk. All required electronic submission must be made through the Assignment Drop Box located on the USQ Study Desk for the course, unless directed otherwise by the examiner of the course. The due date for an electronically submitted assessment is the date by which a student must electronically submit the assignment. The assignment files must be submitted by 11.55pm on the due date using USQ time (as displayed on the clock on the course home page; that is, Australian Eastern Standard Time).

  5. If the method of assessment submission is by written, typed or printed paper-based media students should (i) submit to the Faculty Office for students enrolled in the course in the on-campus mode, or (ii) mail to the USQ for students enrolled in the course in the external mode. The due date for the assessment is the date by which a student must (i) submit the assessment for students enrolled in the on-campus mode, or (ii) mail the assessment for students enrolled in the external mode.

  6. The Faculty will NOT normally accept submission of assessments by facsimile or email.

  7. Students who do not have regular access to postal services for the submission of paper-based assessments, or regular access to Internet services for electronic submission, or are otherwise disadvantaged by these regulations may be given special consideration. They should contact the examiner of the course to negotiate such special arrangements prior to the submission date.

  8. Students who have undertaken all of the required assessments in a course but who have failed to meet some of the specified objectives of a course within the normally prescribed time may be awarded the temporary grade: IM (incomplete - Make up). An IM grade will only be awarded when, in the opinion of the examiner, a student will be able to achieve the remaining objectives of the course after a period of non directed personal study.

  9. Students who, for medical, family/personal, or employment-related reasons, are unable to complete an assignment or to sit for an examination at the scheduled time may apply to defer an assessment in a course. Such a request must be accompanied by appropriate supporting documentation. The following temporary grade may be awarded: IDM (Incomplete Deferred Make-up).

  10. Harvard (AGPS) is the referencing system required in this course. Students should use Harvard (AGPS) style in their assignments to format details of the information sources they have cited in their work. The Harvard (AGPS) style to be used is defined by the USQ Library's referencing guide. //

Other requirements

  1. Students must have access to e-mail and internet access to UConnect for this course.