Structural Systems

Victoria University of Wellington

Course Description

  • Course Name

    Structural Systems

  • Host University

    Victoria University of Wellington

  • Location

    Wellington, New Zealand

  • Area of Study


  • Language Level

    Taught In English

  • Prerequisites

    SARC 121,122, Students must provide a portfolio of work for pre-approval before International Orientation and Enrolment week at Victoria University of Wellington. Students can only submit portfolios in a CD, PDF, website or proper booklet format. Printouts are strongly discouraged. The portfolio must be an accurate representation of the student?s skills set to date.

  • Course Level Recommendations


    ISA offers course level recommendations in an effort to facilitate the determination of course levels by credential evaluators.We advice each institution to have their own credentials evaluator make the final decision regrading course levels.

    Hours & Credits

  • Credit Points

  • Recommended U.S. Semester Credits
    3 - 4
  • Recommended U.S. Quarter Units
    4 - 6
  • Overview

    Introduction to the basic structural principles and material properties that underpin the fabric of natural and constructed environments. The course presents the basic requirements for structural systems; structural form and proportion; equilibrium; strength of materials; bending and shear; combined stresses; elasticity, plasticity and ductility; elastic deformation; buckling; structural design principles; and, elementary soil mechanics.

    For a building to remain standing it must be structurally stable and possess sufficient strength and stiffness so it doesn?t deflect too much. Hence to produce architecture and prepare for a career in building science an understanding of how buildings go together and knowledge of structures is essential. Structural considerations have a considerable impact on the forms, dimensions and materials of structural elements in a building, and as such are a significant influence in building science and on architectural design. An understanding of structural principles is therefore a key part of understanding buildings.

    The course covers a broad range of structural forms and analyses of how they work, their advantages and, disadvantages. The content, specifically defined in the following list leads to understanding:-
    - Types of trusses (shapes) and understanding of vertical and horizontal forces as vectors and
    equilibrium at a point using method of joints for analysis of simple determinate trusses.
    - Loads, gravity loads, lateral loads and how structural elements carry loads ? tension, compression, bending and shear, and torsion.
    - How different structural forms distribute and carry loads
    - How a building must have support for every part of it, using light timber frame buildings as an example.
    - How earthquake and wind loads are affected by building location, size and mass, and how bracing
    elements must be distributed to resist lateral loads in any direction including torsional effects, using light timber frame buildings as an example.
    - How different materials vary in structural properties including elastic and ductile behaviour.
    - The advantages and disadvantages of different materials or combinations for structural performance, durability, and with reference to life cycle and energy costs.
    - Knowledge of the section properties used in structural design and understanding of how section
    properties affect the strength of structural elements.
    - The principles of equilibrium and finding reactions on simply supported and cantilever beams using equations of equilibrium.
    - How shear force and bending moment diagrams vary along simply supported and cantilever beams for standard cases and how this can affect the shape and size of beams.
    - How beams carry loads in bending and shear, designing beams and appreciating the effects of material types and section shapes.
    - How beams deflect under load and by how much, including effects of material types and section
    - Column crushing and buckling failure modes including effects of material types and section shapes.
    - Soil classification, soil strength, and types of foundations for different soils, building types and sizes.
    - Forces on retaining walls and how to prevent failure with emphasis on good drainage to improve the factor of safety.

    Course Learning Objectives
    Students who pass this course will be able to:
    1. Analyse and design quantitatively determinate beams and trusses using basic principles of structural mechanics
    2. Describe how beams of all materials resist loads, construct bending moment and shear force diagrams for determinate beams, and design quantitatively steel and timber beams.
    3. Explain how structural loads are transferred through light-timber framed construction and design individual members using a New Zealand Standard.
    4. Explain the following aspects of building structures; the relationship between structural form, materials and loads; basic soil mechanics, and the structural behaviour of ties and columns.

    Assignment 1: PeerWise 10%
    Assignment 2: Light timber framing ( 50%
    Final examination 40%

Course Disclaimer

Courses and course hours of instruction are subject to change.

Eligibility for courses may be subject to a placement exam and/or pre-requisites.

Some courses may require additional fees.

Credits earned vary according to the policies of the students' home institutions. According to ISA policy and possible visa requirements, students must maintain full-time enrollment status, as determined by their home institutions, for the duration of the program.

Please reference fall and spring course lists as not all courses are taught during both semesters.

Availability of courses is based on enrollment numbers. All students should seek pre-approval for alternate courses in the event of last minute class cancellations

Please note that some courses with locals have recommended prerequisite courses. It is the student's responsibility to consult any recommended prerequisites prior to enrolling in their course.