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Biomechanical Physics & Computation (BMEN20001)

Undergraduate level 2Points: 12.5On Campus (Parkville)

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Year of offer2019
Subject levelUndergraduate Level 2
Subject codeBMEN20001
Semester 1
FeesSubject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date


This subject aims to introduce students to the use of computational modelling to apply biomechanical physics to problems in bioengineering research and industry. The course introduces students to important fundamentals of software programming (through the use of MATLAB) and numerical techniques to solving biomechanics equations. The course will introduce students to relevant applications in human movement, soft-tissue mechanics and cellular mechanobiology.


Topics include:

  • Kinematics – displacement/velocity/acceleration relationships; speed vs velocity; linear and angular velocity.
  • Forces, moments, free body diagrams, normal/shear stress and strain.
  • Mechanics of materials – stress/strain relations, Young’s modulus, Poisson’s ratio.
  • Newton’s laws.
  • Deriving ODEs to solve simple dynamics problems – mass and spring; pendulum swing; projectile motion.
  • Data structures/types in programs – variables, numbers, characters, arrays, strings, floating point, single and double precision (pointers).
  • Writing programs – main program, functions, scope of variables in programs (whole-program vs function-specific variables).
  • Control structures – if/else, for loops, while loops, do until loops.
  • Numerical methods for solving linear ODEs.
  • Approximation and errors in numerical computation.

Intended learning outcomes


On completion of this subject students should be able to:

  1. Use Newton's Laws of Motion to analyse equilibrium and dynamics in biomechanics applications.
  2. Analyse stresses and strains of biological materials under different loads.
  3. Analyse human motion and impact using fundamental kinematics and kinetics equations.
  4. Read, write and debug small-scale numerical programs in MATLAB.
  5. Translate biomechanics related mathemtical equations into computer programs in MATLAB.
  6. Implement and utilise fundamental numerical methods to solve biomechanic equations (e.g. ordinary differential equations).

Generic skills

On completion of this subject, students should have developed the following generic skills:

  • The ability to undertake problem identification, formulation and solution.
  • Capacity for independent critical thought, rational inquiry and self-directed learning.
  • Profound respect for truth and intellectual integrity, and for the ethics of scholarship.
  • An ability to apply knowledge of basic science and engineering fundamentals.

Last updated: 10 August 2019