Mechanical Engineering, Master

Academic content

Academic content

Studying the specialisation in Design of Mechanical Systems, you acquire the necessary tools of a mechanical engineer, which include classic engineering such as solid state mechanics and continuum mechanics as well as modern computer-based simulation systems and programmes.

You will work with topics such as:

  • Solid mechanics with microstructure
  • Finite element methods
  • Fracture mechanics and fatigue
  • Load carrying structural elements
  • Engineering design
  • Composite materials
  • Test and validation

Design of Mechanical Systems is specialisation on the two-year Master's programme, Mechanical Engineering. The teaching combines lectures, laboratory work and project work and each semester has an overall theme. Your semester project topics are chosen within these themes.

In the first two semesters of the programme, you will spend half of your study time on courses, while the other half of your time will be spent doing a semester project. Each semester has an overall theme and within this theme, you conduct a semester project with your project group, where you investigate and attempt to solve a relevant issue within your field of study. You are encouraged to carry out one or more semester projects in collaboration with external companies and organisations. This gives you an exceptional opportunity to combine theory and practice.

The study programmes at AAU are based on problem based learning and project work, which gives you a unique opportunity to acquire new knowledge and competences at a high academic level in an independent manner. You get to apply theory to practice in your semester projects, which will prepare you better for your future career.



The focus of this semester is simple geometry that will be analysed under load in different ways. You will learn all fundamental professional disciplines and be able to put the content from your Bachelor’s programme into perspective.

The first semester project has an obligatory theme: Analysis of the reaction of a simple construction element when carrying a mechanical load. You will apply analytical theories and computer-based methods to predict the reaction. In the laboratories, you will then conduct experiments to determine if the predictions are correct. Hereby, you will get thorough knowledge of the strengths and weaknesses of the various methods.


  • Solid Mechanics with Microstructure (5 ECTS)
  • Fracture Mechanics and Fatigue (5 ECTS)
  • Finite Element Methods (5 ECTS)


  • Stress and Deformation Analyses of Load Carrying Structural Element (15 ECTS)*

* For students without a B.Sc. in Mechanical Engineering and Manufacturing from Aalborg University a tailored project module of 10 ECTS and an INTRO Course of 5 ECTS (Problem-based Learning, Theory of Elasticity and the Finite Element Method, MATLAB) are provided on the 1st semester.

examples of pROJEcT topics

  • Evaluation of different methods for the determination of stresses and strains in a load carrying structural element
  • Stress and deformation analysis of a brake pedal
  • Stress and deformation analysis of a total hip replacement
  • Rear Spoiler Bracket: Stress and Deformation Analysis of a Frame Structure


During this semester, you will solve a product development task, where all disciplines will be involved. The starting point is a dynamically loaded and weight critical construction or a complex mechanical system, which needs to be designed with consideration for shape, function, stiffness, strength, life span, price, customer demands, and of course weight.

In order to solve the task, you and your project group will need to work in a multi-disciplinary manner with various methods and tools, including a comprehensive systematic design methodology, advanced materials, the most recent analysis methods, computer models for virtual prototyping, design optimisation and experimental methods.


  • Engineering Optimisation – Concepts, Methods and Applications (5 ECTS)
  • Mechanics of Composite Materials and Structures (5 ECTS)
  • Energy and Variational Methods with Applications (5 ECTS)


  • Engineering Design of Mechanical Systems (15 ECTS)

examples of pROJEcT topics

  • Analysis and redesign of spokes on rotary kiln
  • Design and analysis of a formula student carbon fibre rim
  • Design and optimisation of the rear subframe of the Agile SCX car
  • Design of a spherical mechanism as the external shoulder joint of an assistive exoskeleton
  • Design of carbon fibre kayak monocoque
  • Design of a test tool for experimental characterisation of fatigue-driven delamination in laminated composites
  • Investigation of the low-cycle fatigue behaviour of welded T-joints in high strength steel
  • Weight optimisation of an extreme rib
  • Design of a Monocoque for an LMP1 race car
  • Design of wind turbine blade joint


During the third semester, you have different options to earn the required 30 ECTS:

  • You can do a project oriented stay at a company in Denmark or abroad, where you take part in the day-to-day operations in the business. During the project oriented stay, you will write a project about one or more of your tasks during the process
  • You can study a semester at another educational institution abroad or in Denmark
  • You can do a regular semester at AAU with courses and project work
  • You can begin your Master’s thesis, so your work is spread out over both your 3rd and 4th semester

Aalborg University has collaboration agreements with universities around the world, and the programme’s research environment has a wide range of internship contacts.

Find out more about studying abroad and internships here.


  • Electives (5 ECTS): Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) and Multiphase Flow /  Test and Validation

examples of pROJEcT topics

  • Automation of experimental process for designing a mechanical failure criterion for living human tissue
  • Ballistic properties of projectile material
  • Buckling model development of hydraulic telescopic cylinders
  • Carbon fibre monocoque for a LMP3 racecar
  • Initial modelling of horizontal axis wind turbines
  • Sensors placement optimisation
  • Structural analysis and design of FlexiCrane
  • Base redesign for self-hoisting crane


On the fourth semester, you write your Master’s thesis, where you draw on all the knowledge, experience and skills you have acquired during your studies. Depending on your topic choice, the thesis will be in the nature of developmental work, further development, or actual research.

master’s thesis

  • Topic of own choice (30 ECTS)

examples of thesis topics

  • Design of a blast resistant armour plate
  • Design of mechanical failure criterion for living human tissue
  • Acoustic determination of pretensioned bolts
  • Reproducing the response of a structure by optimising the design of a test rig
  • Biomechanical analysis of anterior cruciate ligament injury mechanisms
  • Design of anthropomorphic robot arm

traineeship / study abroad

Study Method at AAU - Problem Based Learning

Study Method at AAU - Problem Based Learning

The study method at AAU is called Problem Based Learning (PBL). Together with your fellow students you will work with real life problems by way of problem based project work.

learn more about Pbl at aau