About this online course


Fatigue fractures may occur as a consequence of cyclic loading structures. In particular within the context of fatigue and damage tolerance certification, engineers should have the knowledge and skills to analyse and assess fatigue life and fatigue performance. This includes the ability to design against fatigue, and to validate designs with validated fatigue strength justifications. Fatigue fractures and related structural failures may be caused by a variety of factors, such as quality of applied materials, the production technology, the structural design, inappropriate reliability calculations, underestimations of load spectra, and inappropriate use of structures. With so many possible factors an integral and rigorous engineering approach is required.

This course will provide you with the knowledge and skills to identify potential critical locations and sources of poor fatigue performance; to develop strategies to avoid fatigue fractures and to improve fatigue performance of structures.

The course suits mainly aerospace engineers whose responsibilities include aircraft structures. However civil engineers, structural engineers, as well as engineers working in the manufacturing industry would benefit as well from high level review of fatigue life assessment and damage growth.

For anyone working on development, design or strength justification of engineering structures this course will be invaluable. It will not only learn the methods and best practices, but also explain thoroughly the fundamentals that allow to assess the limits of current practices, and ways to overcome such limitations. In short, you will become a fatigue and damage tolerance specialist!

By the end of this course you will be able to:

  • Interpret and discuss the fatigue fracture features with respect to the characteristics of each phase in fatigue life.
  • Define and determine stress concentration factors for notched structures with or without residual stresses.
  • Explain and discuss S-N curves with respect to mean stress, material surface effects, and scatter, and perform fatigue life analyses considering mean stress and notch root plasticity.
  • Assess the fatigue life of tension and shear joints, and explain limitations to the similarity principles.
  • Explain Linear Elastic Fracture Mechanics concepts for damage growth, and perform crack growth analyses with these concepts.
  • Explain the consequences of variable- and constant amplitude loading on fatigue life and damage growth, and perform fatigue life analyses for arbitrary load spectra.
  • Explain the effect of environment on fatigue life and fatigue phenomena.
  • Perform residual strength analyses.

Watch sample video lectures


Course Syllabus

Week 1: Fatigue phenomena and societal consequences. Understanding the various fatigue fracture phenomena in engineering metallic and composite structures. Definition of fatigue and description of history of fatigue assessment. Principles for designing against fatigue. Fatigue damage initiation and growth mechanisms.

Week 2: introduction to stress concentration factors (SCFs), principles to work with and calculate SCFs and design against stress concentrations. Influence of residual stresses.

Week 3: Assessment of fatigue life, definitions and best practices, discussion of scatter. Discussion of joining in relation to fatigue, aspects like fretting corrosion and pretensioning.

Week 4: Introduction to stress intensity factors (SIFs) and damage growth predictions. Relation between physics of phenomena and stress based methods. Crack growth predictions.

Week 5: Discussion of effect of variable amplitude loading on fatigue life assessment and damage growth predictions. Load spectra measurements and usage monitoring.

Week 6: Fatigue in composites; description of typical fatigue mechanisms and phenomena in relation to best practices for evaluation. Influence of environment.

Week 7: Residual strength analysis and testing in relation to aerospace damage tolerant design certification.

Assignment(s) and Assessment

This course aims to convey the knowledge via online lectures, while quizzes and assignments aim to practice the related skills. Collaboration and discussion with fellow online students are strongly recommended to improve the learning experience: you learn it best by explaining it others.

Student/professionals are expected to complete the following assignments prior to the written examination:

Assignment 1: Stress concentration factors

Assignment 2: Fatigue properties and S-N curves

Assignment 3: Pre-tensioning and fatigue

Assignment 4: Stress intensity factors

Assignment 5: Fatigue life under variable amplitude loading

Assignment 6: Crack growth under variable amplitude loading

Assignment 7: Residual strength

Literature & Study Materials

  • Peterson's Stress Concentration Factors, Walter D. Pilkey, Deborah F. Pilkey, ISBN-13: 978-0470048245 (Amazon.com $143.63).
  • J. Schijve, Fatigue of Structures and Materials, 2nd edition, 2009, Springer Science+Business Media, B.V., ISBN-13: 978-1-4020-6807-2 e-ISBN-13: 978-1-4020-6808-9 (online provided by TU Delft Library).

Readers, formative tests, documentation, and other relevant material provided via e-learning platform.

Further reading (optional):

Other Study Material:

  • matweb, an online database for material properties
  • efatigue, an online tool for fatigue calculations



If you successfully complete your online course you will be awarded with a TU Delft certificate.

This certificate will state that you were registered as a non-degree-seeking student at TU Delft and successfully completed the course.

If you decide that you would like to apply to the full Master's program in Aerospace Engineering, you will need to go through the admission process as a regular MSc student. If you are admitted, you can then request an exemption for this course that you completed as a non-degree-seeking student. The Board of Examiners will evaluate your request and will decide whether or not you are exempted.


General admission to this course

Required prior knowledge

  • A relevant BEng or BSc degree in a subject closely related to the content of the course or specialized program in question, such as aerospace engineering, aeronautical engineering, mechanical engineering, civil engineering or (applied) physics.
  • If you do not meet these requirements because you do not have a relevant Bachelor's degree but you have a Bachelor's degree from a reputable institution and you think you have sufficient knowledge and experience to complete the course, you are welcome to apply, stating your motivation and reasons for admission. The faculty of aerospace engineering will decide whether you will be admitted based on the information you have provided. Appeal against this decision is not possible.

Expected prior knowledge
In addition to the entry requirements mentioned above, prior knowledge of mechanics of structures and materials is necessary in order to complete this course. For admission purposes, TU Delft will not ask you for proof of this prior knowledge, but it is your responsibility to ensure that you have the sufficient knowledge, obtained through relevant work experience or prior education.

To view the essential background knowledge, please check your knowledge against the learning objectives of these comparable TU Delft course:

Expected Level of English
English is the language of instruction for this online course. If your working language is not English or you have not participated in an educational program in English in the past, please ensure that your level of proficiency is sufficient to follow the course. TU Delft recommends an English level equivalent to one of the following certificates (given as an indication only; the actual certificates are not required for the admission process):

  • TOEFL score 90+ (this is an internet-based test)
  • IELTS (academic version) overall Band score of at least 6.5
  • University of Cambridge: "Certificate of Proficiency in English" or "Certificate in Advanced English"

Admission process

In order to complete your admission process you will be asked to upload the following documents:

  • a CV which describes your educational and professional background (in English)
  • a copy of your passport or ID card (no driver's license)
  • a copy of relevant transcripts and diplomas


If you have any questions about this course or the TU Delft online learning environment, please visit our Help & Support page.

Enrollment period is over

  • Start date
    Future dates to be announced
  • Cost
    € 750
  • Course length
    7 weeks
  • Estimated effort
    7 - 8 hours per week
  • Course code

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