MSc Advanced Structural Engineering

Postgraduate, Full-time

Advanced Structural Engineering MSc

Develop skills in design and assessment of engineering structures subject to seismic, extreme loading and environmental conditions


Accredited by relevant professional bodies and designed to meet the needs of the modern construction industry, this course offers a wide range of structural engineering principles as you learn about issues relating to steel and concrete structures and foundations.

Funding available

Thanks to the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal, there are a limited number of fully-funded postgraduate scholarships available at Edinburgh Napier University for qualified Scottish, British and EU students studying full-time, part-time or via distance learning, interested in leading innovation within construction and the built environment. To receive the funding – which will pay for your postgraduate tuition fees – you must agree to engage with an industry partner to identify and develop solutions to construction challenges as part of your Masters studies.
To qualify for the funding, you must identify as someone underrepresented in the construction industry, especially those identifying as women, BAME, with caring responsibilities, and/or with a disability. You must also live in Edinburgh, Fife, East Lothian, West Lothian, Midlothian or the Scottish Borders.
If interested, please email Kirsty Connell-Skinner who will register your interest and share more information regarding the scholarship application process.

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Mode of Study:

Full-time (available as Part-time)


1 year

Start date:


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Course details

Through this highly technical course you will develop skills in numerical simulation using a variety of advanced software.

You will also learn failure analysis methods, the Eurocodes and the code of practice for the design of various construction materials, research skills and the legal issues surrounding construction.

The course is accredited by the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE), the Institution of Structural Engineers (IStructE) and the Chartered Institution of Highways & Transportation (CIHT).

Industry practitioners are regularly invited as guest speakers and lecturers.

  • calendar How you’ll be taught

    The main approach is face-to-face lectures and tutorial. In addition to this, computer labs are used to teach engineering software and structural laboratory will be used to conduct small to large-scale structural test.  You will also undertake independent learning and research. 

    This is a full-time course and is split up into three trimesters. You can choose to start in either January or September.


    • September starts: 12 months
    • January starts: 18 months with a three-month break over the summer (after the first taught trimester)
  • note and pen Assessments Your performance will be assessed by course work, assignments, laboratory reports and final examination.
  • library Facilities

    Heavy structural lab at Merchiston allows to conduct small to large scale structural engineering tests. Computer suites supports students to use different finite element based software to analyse and design structures.


Modules that you will study* as part of this course

Advanced Mechanics of Material and Finite Element Analysis ( CTR11129 )

Review of Matrix algebra; force method & stiffness method
Stress, strain and their relation, equilibrium and compatibility.
Yield criteria and limit analysis.
Formulation of boundary value problems in elasticity, solution techniques and examples.
Torsion theory, membrane analogy, effect of warping restraint.
method, Solution of large systems of linear equations
Finite element method, solution procedures, and solution bound
Plane strain and plane stress elements
Isoparametric elements
Beam elements
Plate bending elements
Flat shell elements
Structural dynamics & eigenvalue problems
Three-dimensional stress analysis

Further information

Advanced Structural Concrete ( CTR11118 )

Concrete: constituents and their properties, plastic and hardened properties, strength, durability and influencing factors as well as strengths, stiffness, fracture parameters, loading/environmental conditions, constitutive relationships, plastic and visco-plastic models, cracking models.
Reinforcement: properties, bond-slip, stiffening, dowel action, constitutive relationships.
Reinforced concrete (RC): stress-strain relationship of concrete and steel and their relevance to reinforced concrete design, the importance of the interaction between concrete and steel and its influence on RC behaviour and structural response.
Durability of reinforced concrete: durability of reinforced concrete and influencing factors.
Basic principles of:
EC2: design of (prestressed) concrete structures and components.
EC4: Design of composite structures.

Further information

Advanced Structural Steel Design ( CTR11119 )

Eurocodes: EN1990, EN1991 and EN 1993
Lattice girder design: secondary bracing and secondary bending systems.
Buckling Instability: modes of buckling instability, i.e. local, flexural, LTB, torsional etc.
Structural stability of frames: second-order effects.
Buckling behaviour of thin plates: in-plane compression, shear, bending and bearing.
Plate Girder Design: single span plate girder design, i.e. flanges, webs, stiffeners & welds.

Further information

Geotechnical Earthquake and Offshore Engineering ( CTR11134 )

General (and Re-cap): Bearing capacity theory, philosophy of Eurocode 7 and 8, limit state design, EQU and GEO limit states, design of shallow and deep foundations: by ground test results; by load test results.
Cyclic behaviour of soils: Dynamic properties of soils, their measurement and interpretation. Pore water pressure development, soil liquefaction and stiffness degradation. Wave propagation, soil amplification and topography effects.
Seismic geotechnical design: Seismic bearing capacity according to Eurocode 8. Mononobe-Okabe approaches for the calculation of earth pressures, pipeline design.
Offshore geotechnical design: Cyclic behaviour of piles. Interaction diagrams. ICP and API design methods

Further information

MSc Dissertation ( CTR11111 )

Research Theory and Experimentation: research hypothesis, research design, experimentation and data gathering, hypothesis testing and data analysis

Research Presentation: abstracts, synopses, documentation, writing, referencing and presentation

Further information

Structural Dynamics and Earthquake Design ( CTR11102 )

Introduction: types and sources of dynamic loading, structural vibration and consequences;
Single-degree-of-freedom (SDOF) systems: motion, natural frequency, undamped/damped free vibration, excitation response, numerical analysis;
Multi-degree-of-freedom (MDOF) systems: property matrices, mode shapes, mode superposition;
Continuous systems: longitudinal/transverse vibration;
Case studies: earthquake ground motion;
Eurocode 1998 (EC8): Design of structures for earthquake resistance.

Further information

Timber Engineering ( CTR11136 )

1. An Introduction to the Module, Timber and Timber engineering – Robert Hairstans (RH)
2. Material Grading, Classification and Mechanical Properties: the material properties of time and how it is classified and graded for structural use – Dan Ridley Ellis (DRE)
3. Ultimate Limit State & Serviceability Limit State and the Basis of Timber Design – Bernardino D’Amico (BDA)
4. Member Design: analyse and design statically determinate timber beams, columns and load bearing elements – (BDA)
5. Connections 1: The theory of connection design and Eurocode design principles – Andrew Livingston (AL)
6. Connections 2 / Diaphragm Action: An overview of other connection types such as toothed nailed plates and moment connections and also the design of systems using connections such as wall diaphragms - AL
7. Case Study / Coursework: an overview of a case study with design related coursework activity - TBC
8. Engineered and Truss Systems: the design principles of engineered systems including truss design - Wojciech Plowas (WP)
9. Dynamics / Vibrational Performance: theory of the dynamic response of timber systems and vibrational performance – Aamir Khokhar (AK)
10. Massive Timber Systems: an overview of the varying types of mass timber systems and their structural design considerations – RH
11. Fire: fire performance of structural timber systems in the temporary and permanent state – Martin Milner or Ivor Davies
12. Engineering Timber Products and Systems: Case study of structural timber use by an invited guest lecturer – TBC

Further information

* These are indicative only and reflect the course structure in the current academic year. Some changes may occur between now and the time that you study.


Institute for Sustainable Construction

The Institute comprises some of Scotland’s leading built environment applied research and knowledge transfer centres. We cover a range of disciplines, including SMART cities, acoustics, energy, offsite construction, timber engineering, wood science.


Study modules mentioned above are indicative only. Some changes may occur between now and the time that you study.

Placement and study abroad opportunities are subject to UK and Scottish Government health and travel advice.

Full information is available in our disclaimer.

Entry requirements

Entry requirements

The entry requirement for this course is a Bachelor (Honours) degree at 2:2 or above with a background in Civil Engineering.

We may also consider lesser qualifications if you have sufficient relevant work experience within the industry.

English language requirements

If your first language isn't English, you'll normally need to undertake an approved English language test and our minimum English language requirements will apply.

This may not apply if you have completed all your school qualifications in English, or your undergraduate degree was taught and examined in English (within two years of starting your postgraduate course). Check our country pages to find out if this applies to you.

International students

We welcome applications from students studying a wide range of international qualifications.
Entry requirements by country

Please note that international students are unable to enrol onto the following courses:
  • BN Nursing/MSc Nursing (Pre-registration) (Adult or Mental Health)
  • BM Midwifery/MM Midwifery

Admissions policies

We’re committed to admitting students who have the potential to succeed and benefit from our programmes of study. 

Our admissions policies will help you understand our admissions procedures, and how we use the information you provide us in your application to inform the decisions we make.

Undergraduate admissions policies
Postgraduate admissions policies

Fees & funding

The course fees you'll pay and the funding available to you will depend on a number of factors including your nationality, location, personal circumstances and the course you are studying. We also have a number of bursaries and scholarships available to our students.

Tuition fees
Students From 2021/22 2022/23
Scotland, England, Wales, Northern Ireland, and Republic of Ireland £6,525 tba
Overseas and EU £15,490 tba

Please note tuition fees are subject to an annual review and may increase from one year to the next.
For more information on this and other Tuition Fee matters please see Frequently Asked Questions about Fees

Click this link for Information of Bursaries and Scholarships

The University offers a 20% discount on Postgraduate Taught Masters programmes to its alumni. The discount applies to all full-time, part-time and online programmes.

Built Environment Exchange

Join beX, our Built Environment Exchange programme that provides employability projects, internship opportunities and scholarships.


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Quantity Surveying student Alanna Miller with a clipboard in her hands looking up to the sky