ACS133 Physical Systems 

Module Description (subject to change)

This module will introduce students to the modelling and analysis of dynamic systems. Students will learn about the different types of physical systems based on real-world case-studies. This 20-credit year-long module is to be delivered over two semesters. In the autumn semester mechanical and electrical-mechanical systems will be introduced. In the second semester the mechanical theme will continue with rotational systems, and then introduce thermodynamic systems as well as flow systems. Students will gain an appreciation of the physics laws governing a variety of physical systems, the impact and interaction of various system components, as well as systematic methods for modelling and analysing such systems.

Credits: 20 (Academic Year)

Module Leader

LZG Profile Picture

Dr Lingzhong Guo

If you have any questions about the module please talk to us during the lectures or the labs in the first instance. It is likely that other students will learn from any questions you ask as well, so don’t be afraid to ask questions.

Outside of lectures please contact one of us via email, or drop in to see one of us.

Other teaching staff

Dr Simon A. Pope

Dr I Lilley

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the module students will be able to:

  • Recognise and describe simple physical systems, their characteristics and operation, and illustrate these using examples [EA4p].
  • Distinguish between modelling methods that are suitable for a given system from a variety of domains [SM2p, EA4p].
  • Build performance metrics into a system model and interrogate these metrics to appreciate the performance of different system
  • Configurations or designs [EA2p, D3p].
  • Use industry-relevant modelling and simulation software tools to model the behaviour and performance of semi-realistic case study systems [EP3p].
  • Organise a modelling and simulation workflow, and apply a workflow to address performance questions related to a system [EA1p, EP1p].

This module satisfies the AHEP3 (Accreditation of Higher Education Programmes, Third Edition) Learning Outcomes that are listed in brackets after each learning outcome above. For further details on AHEP3 Learning Outcomes, see the downloads section of our accreditation webpage.



    This module will include the following topics:

  • Continuous systems: classification of systems, system’s abstraction and modelling, types of systems and examples, system variables, input-output system description, system response, analysis of system behaviour, linear system, superposition principle, linearisation, system performance and performance targets.
  • System simulation (computer aided), real-world system examples: ElectroMechanical, Thermodynamic and flow systems, systems of systems.
  • Practical laboratory sessions (in the Diamond) support the teaching content throughout both semesters.
  • MATLAB and Simulink as a systems modelling and simulation platform
Teaching Methods

Learning and Teaching Methods

NOTE: This summary of teaching methods is representative of a normal Semester. Owing to the ongoing disruption from Covid-19, the exact method of delivery will be different in 2020/21.

The main teaching methods are lectures, example and case-study classes, tutorial sessions as well as lab-based sessions (practical as well as computer-based labs). All learning outcomes will be addressed via the above teaching methods, with the addition of the use of industry-standard software in the form of instructor-led pc-lab sessions.

Lectures: 48 hours
Tutorials: 12 hours
Labs: 12 hours
Independent Study: 102 hours
Other: 24 hours

Teaching Materials

Learning and Teaching Materials

All teaching materials will be available on MOLE.



Assignment 1, Semester 1 (10%)

Diamond Lab 1, Semester 1 (3% Pass/Fail)

Diamond Lab 2, Semester 1 (3% Pass/Fail)

Assignment 2, Semester 2 (6%)

Assignment 3, Semester 2 (12%)

Diamond Lab 3, Semester 2 (3% Pass/Fail)

Diamond Lab 4, Semester 2 (3% Pass/Fail)

End of Year Exam Covering Semester 1 and Semester 2 (60%)



  • Feedback will be provided throughout the semester, via the scheduled laboratory/tutorial sessions.
  • Assignments/Reports: Coursework is returned marked to the students, along with individual and group feedback as appropriate.
  • A Discussion board will be available in this module to give responses to student queries (MOLE)
Student Evaluation

Student Evaluation

Students are encouraged to provide feedback during the module direct to the lecturer. Students will also have the opportunity to provide formal feedback via the Faculty of Engineering Student Evaluation Survey at the end of each semester.

You can view the latest Department response to the survey feedback here.

Recommended Reading

Recommended Reading

Core Texts:

  • Dorf R. C. and Bishop R. H., Modern Control Systems, 9th Ed., Prentice Hall, 2011. Other editions are also acceptable.
  • Charles M Close, Dean K Frederick, Jonathan C Newell, Modelling and Analysis of Dynamic Systems, 3rd Ed., Wiley, 2002
  • Young, Freeman, University Physics, 9th Ed., Addison Wesley, 1996