Continuum Mechanics

Course content

In the macroscopic world, most materials that surround us e.g. solids and liquids can safely be assumed to exist as continua, that is, the materials completely fill the space they occupy and the underlying atomic structures can be neglected. The course offers a modern introduction to the physics of continuous matter with an emphasis on examples from natural occurring systems (e.g. in the physics of complex systems and the Earth sciences). Focus is equally on the underlying formalism of continuum mechanics and phenomenology. In the course you will become familiar with the mechanical behavior of materials ranging from viscous fluids to elastic solids. 

A description of the deformation of solids is given, including the concepts of mechanical equilibrium, the stress and strain tensors, linear elasticity. A derivation is given of the Navier-Cauchy equation as well as examples from elastostatics and elastodynamics including elastic waves. A description of fluids in motion is given including the Euler equations, potential flow, Stokes' flow and the Navier-Stokes equation. Examples of numerical modeling of continous matter will be given.


MSc Programme in Physics
MSc Programme in Physics with a minor subject

Learning outcome

At the conclusion of the course students will be able to use the fundamental physical laws of mass conservation, conservation of momentum, and conservation of energy to derive partial differential equations describing the behavior of objects modeled as a continuum. The students will be able to calculate the stress and strain during small deformations of linear elastic materials in simple geometries as well as basic examples of fluid flow.

The student will be able 1) to describe the flow of ideal fluids in basic idealized systems 2) to describe in detail the Navier-Stokes equation and 3) be familiar with stress and strain tensors, linear elasticity and the Navier-Cauchy equation

This course will provide the students with a competent background for further studies within this research field, e.g. an M.Sc. project. 
The course will provide the students with tools that have application in a range of fields within and beyond physics.

Lectures and exercises

To be announced on Absalon

Academic qualifications equivalent to a BSc degree is recommended.

Continuous feedback during the course of the semester
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Oral examination, 30 min
Type of assessment details
Without preparation time
Exam registration requirements

3 projects (group or individual) must be approved in order to take the oral exam

Without aids
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Several internal examiners

Same as regular exam. If a student has not fulfilled the exam registration requirement, they can hand in new projects no later than 3 weeks before the oral re-exam.

Criteria for exam assessment

SeeLearning Outcome

Single subject courses (day)

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 24
  • Theory exercises
  • 35
  • E-Learning
  • 0,5
  • Exam
  • 146,5
  • English
  • 206,0


Course number
7,5 ECTS
Programme level
Full Degree Master

1 block

Block 3
No restriction
The number of seats may be reduced in the late registration period
Study Board of Physics, Chemistry and Nanoscience
Contracting department
  • The Niels Bohr Institute
Contracting faculty
  • Faculty of Science
Course Coordinator
  • Aslak Grinsted   (5-64766f646e4371656c316e7831676e)

Aslak Grinsted

Saved on the 28-02-2023

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