Skip to main content Skip to navigation
Throughout the 2021-22 academic year, we will be prioritising face to face teaching as part of a blended learning approach that builds on the lessons learned over the course of the Coronavirus pandemic. Teaching will vary between online and on-campus delivery through the year, and you should read guidance from the academic department for details of how this will work for a particular module. You can find out more about the University’s overall response to Coronavirus at:

ES3H4-15 Biomechanics

School of Engineering
Undergraduate Level 3
Module leader
Neil Evans
Credit value
Module duration
10 weeks
30% coursework, 70% exam
Study location
University of Warwick main campus, Coventry
Introductory description


Module web page

Module aims

To impart a firm understanding and knowledge of the principles of mechanics as applied to biomedical and biological systems, across the spectrum from single cell and tissue mechanics, through to analysis of human gait. The module will introduce fundamental principles involved in both experimental and analytical methods, and enable students to use such methods.

Outline syllabus

This is an indicative module outline only to give an indication of the sort of topics that may be covered. Actual sessions held may differ.

  • Experimental methods for single cells. Introduction of various techniques for measuring the mechanical properties of single biological cells
  • Cell mechanics. Mechanical models for cell deformation and their biomedical applications
  • Cell adhesion and cell-material interaction. Mechanistic and adhesion mechanisms in cell-to-cell and cell-biomaterial interactions
  • Tissue mechanics. Measurement and modelling of the deformation behaviours of biological tissues
  • Multi-scale biomechanics. Mechanical characterisations bridging the gap between discrete cell level and continuous tissue level
  • Kinematics, anatomical models and marker sets. Will include: the standard anatomical position, associated terms of location, axes and planes; the use of markers with motion capture to obtain kinematic variables, including a simple and Vicon’s Plug-in-Gait marker sets; conventions for kinematics, such as global and segment reference frames, and descriptions of segments in space; techniques for direct measurement of certain kinematic variables; calculation of other kinematic variables (such as limb-segment angles). Associated with these topics are training sessions (4 hours in total) in the use of the School of Engineering’s Gait Laboratory.
  • Kinetics: Forces and moments. Will include: link-segment biomechanical models; ground reaction force and force plates; combining force plate data and kinematic data for a basic foot model, and then using the Gait Laboratory for inverse dynamics [this will form basis for related assignment]; centers of mass and pressure, and their differences; the inverted pendulum model.
  • Mechanical Work, Energy and Power. Will include: the relationship between moments, angular velocity and joint power during normal gait; internal versus external work, and their calculation; sign convention for muscle work; mechanical energy transfer between segments, power balances at joints and within segments; forms of energy storage and the total energy of a multi-segment system.
  • Forward dynamics. Lagrangian mechanics based formulation of so-called forward models to include: Generalised coordinates, degrees of freedom and reference systems; displacement and velocity vectors; system energy; external forces and torques.
  • Muscle mechanics. Will include: Basic introduction to muscles; Hill-type mathematical models of muscles; force-length and force-velocity characteristics of muscles; processing of the electromyogram.
Learning outcomes

By the end of the module, students should be able to:

  • Be able to apply the core principles of biomechanics to mechanical systems in biology and medicine
  • Demonstrate understanding of kinematics, and be able to determine key kinematic variables in human motion
  • Use state-of-the-art data capture, via a Gait Laboratory, to determine and analyse key kinematic and kinetic variables in human motion
  • Be able to derive basic link-segment equations; and perform a kinetic analysis of reaction forces and moments in 2D for human motion
  • Understand the concepts of work, energy and power in human movement and how they relate to muscle function
  • Demonstrate understanding of mechanical models in biological cells/ tissues; be able to derive force-balance equations
  • Understand and evaluate modern experimental techniques for the measurements of cell and tissue/ mechanics; and be able to explain the working principles, merits and drawbacks of the techniques
Subject specific skills


Transferable skills


Study time

Type Required
Lectures 28 sessions of 1 hour (19%)
Seminars 2 sessions of 1 hour (1%)
Other activity 6 hours (4%)
Private study 114 hours (76%)
Total 150 hours
Private study description

Reinforcement of concepts introduced in lectures and seminars. Further directed reading of relevant sections of principal module text and papers from the literature. Self-directed learning and training associated with mastery of skills in the gait laboratory in order to perform a gait analysis on a healthy volunteer.

Other activity description

2×1 hr revision classes
4x1 hr training in Gait Laboratory


No further costs have been identified for this module.

You must pass all assessment components to pass the module.

Assessment group D1
Weighting Study time
Assignment 30%

Gait laboratory assessment (max 8 sides A4 excluding title page, references and appendices)

Online Examination 70%


~Platforms - QMP

  • Students may use a calculator
  • Engineering Data Book 8th Edition
Feedback on assessment

Seminars and Revision Classes to align student expectation with requirements for assessment, and preparation for coursework. Coursework marked with detailed individual comments (aligned with assessment criteria) together with cohort feedback. Cohort level feedback on examinations.

Past exam papers for ES3H4


This module is Core for:

  • Year 3 of UESA-H161 BEng Biomedical Systems Engineering
  • Year 3 of UESA-H163 MEng Biomedical Systems Engineering

This module is Core optional for:

  • Year 4 of UESA-H164 MEng Biomedical Systems Engineering with Intercalated Year
  • Year 3 of UESA-H115 MEng Engineering with Intercalated Year

This module is Optional for:

  • Year 3 of UESA-H113 BEng Engineering
  • Year 3 of UESA-H114 MEng Engineering
  • Year 4 of UESA-H115 MEng Engineering with Intercalated Year

This module is Option list A for:

  • Year 4 of UESA-H111 BEng Engineering with Intercalated Year
  • Year 3 of UESA-H112 BSc Engineering