MSc Track: Structural Engineering

Structures such as bridges, high-rises, tunnels and storm surge barriers clearly may not collapse or fall over. They may not deflect too much or vibrate annoyingly. Moreover, often they need to last for more than 100 years without much maintenance. In the MSc Structural Engineering track you will learn to calculate which deflections we can expect, whether a structure will buckle, whether its strength will be sufficient, etcetera.

Essential to this are physical models of structures, of materials and of loading. You will learn to formulate these models, to test them and to apply them. Simple models are used for hand calculations to quickly make decisions in meetings with owners, architects, contractors and local governments. Complicated models are used for computer simulations to accurately determine whether a structure will comply with the design specifications. Examples are the stresses that will occur in a concrete dam of an artificial lake or the damage that will occur in a high-rise due to a strong earthquake.


The Structural Engineering track offers the following specialisations:

Structural Mechanics

The basis of every structural analysis is applied mechanics. This is used to calculate structures ever since Isaac Newton discovered his laws, 300 years ago. In the Structural Mechanics specialisation there is much attention for applied mechanics.

In the graduation project you will develop tools for other engineers to design structures, for example a calculation method for computers, rules of thumb or design charts. In your career you can develop yourself further as the one who solves structural problems for which others do not know a solution.

Materials Science

If you aim to design constructions, you have to be very much aware of the properties of the materials you plan to use. For example, what is the load bearing capacity of a prefab concrete driven pile? When does metal fatigue occur in aluminium? How can you make strong joints with wood? What is the minimum life span of the various building materials? You will learn the answers to these and other questions within the Materials Science specialisation. 

Concrete Structures

Reinforced Concrete is the most use construction material. Architects and contractors appreciate this material because of the freedom in design, the low costs, the strength and the durability. However, designing a reinforced concrete structure is a specialisation in it self. For example every reinforced structure has small cracks that cannot be seen by the naked eye. These cracks are necessary for activating the reinforcement but when they become too large the concrete is no longer water proof and the reinforcement will corrode.

In the Concrete Structures specialisation you learn to make the right decisions for obtaining an optimal design. Despite that the material is being used for over 100 years, in the last years many innovations occurred in material, construction and applications to which this specialisation gives much attention.

  • For more information about the chair Concrete Structures click here
Steel, hybrid and composit structures

You encounter structures made of steel, wood, aluminium and fibre-reinforced plastic everywhere you go. Think for example of applications in high-rise and low-rise buildings, in factory buildings, towers, masts, locks, weirs, bridges and viaducts. You will find out how to design and execute these constructions, as well as carry out the necessary calculations, within the Steel and Timber Structures specialisation.

  • For more information about the chair Steel and Composite Structures click here
Road and Railway Engineering

Infrastructural facilities such as roads, airfields, port areas, railways and tramways are essential for the proper functioning of our modern society.

The structures required for these facilities are complex because they consist of multiple layers or components which together – over a long period – need to withstand increasingly heavy traffic loads. In the case of roads, airfields and port areas this involves asphalt, concrete or clinkers, a solid foundation and a sand foundation. In the case of railways the basic structure is, in principle, rails connected by sleepers (or ties), a ballast foundation and a sand foundation, while tramways are mostly embedded in a road structure. The structures are built on the natural soil; in large parts of the Netherlands this is extremely weak, thus leading to a range of complications.

In the Road and Railway Engineering specialisation you learn not only how to design the aforementioned structures but also how they should be constructed and maintained.

  • For more information about the section Pavement Engineering click here
  • For more information about the section Railway Engineering click here
Hydraulic Engineering Structures
  • For more information visit the website of Hydraulic Engineering  

After your study

Structural designers work on projects all over the world for employers like consultancy firms, contractors and research institutions. 

Erasmusbrug Rotterdam