River Hydraulics

Lecturer(s): Richard PERKINS
Course ⋅ 16 hPW ⋅ 4 hStudy ⋅ 8 h


For centuries rivers have been exploited in many ways (e.g. to provide water for domestic or irrigation purposes, for transportation, for power generation) but even today, major river floods can have devastating consequences. The aim of this course is to provide students with a comprehensive understanding of the fundamental processes in hydraulic engineering, through the development of suitable yet simple models.


Rivers, Hydraulics, Free-surface flows, Specific energy, Specific force, Hydraulic jump, Surge waves, Sediment transport


  1. Introduction Hydrological cycle - the river system - current issues in river engineering.

  2. Uniform flow in open channels Wave speed - Critical depth - flow regimes - Specific energy - Specific force - Hydraulic jump.

  3. Gradually-varied flow Flow resistance - Uniform flow and the normal depth - surface profiles

  4. Unsteady flows Rapidly-varied flow - Surge waves - slowly-varied flow - St Venant equations - flood wave propagation

  5. Sediment transport Motion of solid particles - Threshold of movement - Bed forms - Bed load transport - Sediment suspension - Suspended load

Learning Outcomes

  • Students should be able to calculate the surface profile for steady flow through a change in channel section.
  • Students should be able to calculate the surface profile of a steady flow in an inclined channel, as a function of channel slope, channel roughness, flow rate and inlet or outlet conditions.
  • Students should be able to calculate the propagation of a wave in an open channel.
  • Students should be able to calculate the threshold of movement for given sediment properties.


Written exam (2h): 40%; Lab reports and design exercises (3): 60%