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Unit 013 – Principles and Applications of Fluid Mechanics – Level 3 – 10 Credits

Aim and purpose

This unit will give learners an understanding of the behaviour and characteristics of engineering fluids and their application in hydrostatic and dynamic fluid systems.

Unit introduction

Hydraulic and pneumatic power is widely used in the operation of engineering systems. The brakes on motor vehicles, railcar doors and hydraulic actuators and presses are typical examples. Fluid power is also widely used on aircraft, particularly for lowering and raising the undercarriage and for operating the flight control surfaces.

The study of this unit will introduce learners to a range of concepts and applications of fluid mechanics that will enable them to solve engineering problems associated with fluid systems.

The unit will provide learners with an understanding of surface tension and the viscous behaviour of Newtonian fluids that will then be used to determine a range of parameters in bearing systems. Learners will be introduced to the characteristics and behaviour of fluids at rest and will apply this knowledge to the inputs and outputs of hydraulic devices and systems, as well as to the determination of thrust forces and pressures that act on immersed rectangular and circular surfaces.

Learners will be introduced to fluid flow in piped systems and to the measurement of flow velocities, pressures and energy, using a variety of measuring instruments. The behaviour of fluid jets will be studies, in particular the jets from nozzles that impinge on stationary vanes, will be considered. This knowledge will be useful as a precursor to the study of turbo-machines, should they choose to go onto more advanced fluid studies. Finally a study of the concepts associated with the wind tunnel testing of models, that find use in the design and testing of motor vehicles and aircraft, when subject to external fluid flows, will be made.

Learning outcomes

On completion of this unit a learner should:

  1. Understand the physical properties and characteristic behaviour of fluids and system parameters for oiled bearings
  2. Be able to determine the parameters that act in hydrostatic devices and act on immersed surfaces
  3. Be able to apply fluid flow theory to determine parameters for piped measuring systems and nozzle vane systems
  4. Understand the use of wind tunnel testing, aerodynamic theory and associated test data to determine the aerodynamic parameters of test models.

Recommended Resources


Darbyshire A – Mechanical Engineering BTEC National Option Units (Elsevier, 2008) ISBN 075068657X
Douglas J, Gasiorek J and Swaffield J – Fluid Mechanics (Prentice Hall, 2006) ISBN 0131292935
Fox R, McDonald A and Pritchard P – Introduction to Fluid Mechanics (John Wiley and Sons, 2009) ISBN 9780470234501
Hannah J and Hillier M J – Mechanical Engineering Science (Prentice Hall, 2000) ISBN 0582326753





This unit links to the following related units:

Level 4

  • U029 – Electro, Pneumatic and Hydraulic Systems (RQF)

Links to the following courses


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