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Structural engineering is one of the most complicated engineering. It gets so deep that you should learn all the aspects and it is also important that your basics should be crystal clear. Let us start from scratch and understand all the basics.

Structural Engineering has 4 aspects.
1. Structural Behavior
2. Structural Analysis
3. Structural Design
4. Seismic Analysis and Design

In order to master structural engineering, you should learn all four aspects. If you fail to conquer any one, you will fail. So read the post carefully.

1. Structural Behavior

Start with structural behaviour. It is the subject closest to our everyday life and our understanding. Without getting a deep insight of structural behavior, you can never perform correct structural analysis. If I pour water on floor, I know that it will flow from a high point to a low point (Flow under gravity). Similarly structural behavior will be very simple if you perform some in house tests, like bend a scale and see what it does. Bend a sponge and see how its pores behave. In order to understand structural behavior, refer to the following sets of books.

The Elements of Structures by W Morgan edited by I.Buckle
Structures by Schodek and Bechthold

2. Structural Analysis

Understanding structural behavior is one thing. That will help you in developing your intuition to understand the deflected shapes for structures under a set of forces. But in order to quantify their deflected shape, the forces and moments, the curvature and deformations you need to valuate it numerically. This numerical evaluation can be done by either simplified set of equations and simplified structure or a complicated set of equations with the entire structure. But this phase is called structural analysis. You either use spreadsheets, software or a pen and a paper to get these values of forces so that you can design the structure. The best books that you can possibly read:
Static Analysis:

Structural Analysis by Devdas Menon
Advanced Structural Analysis by Devdas Menon
Indeterminate structural analysis by C.K. Wang
Structural analysis by R. C. Hibbeler
Strength of Materials by Stephen Timoshenko
Structural Analysis: A unified classical matrix approach by A. Ghali, A.M.Neville and T.G.Brown
Fundamentals of Structural Stability by Simitses and Hodges
Theory of Elastic Stability by Timoshenko

Dynamic Analysis:

Dynamics of structures by A.K.Chopra
Fundamentals of Vibrations by Leonard Meirovitch

Finite Element Analysis:

Fundamentals of Finite element analysis by David Hutton
Nonlinear finite element analysis by Bathe

Plates and Shells:

Theory of Plates and Shells by Reddy

3. Structural Design

Now once you evaluate the forces in the structures you are 20% there in completing the structure. Rest all is structural design. It is important to thoroughly understand structural analysis, because if you evaluate the forces wrong, then your design has already failed. It is like opening up a broken umbrella. You know that it is not going to work. So make sure you are good at analysis before you start designing structure. Now design is different for different materials. There is steel and there is reinforced concrete. So here are a few books to understand design of structures.

Reinforced Concrete Design by Park and Paulay
Reinforced Concrete: Mechanics and Design by Wight and MacGregor
Reinforced Concrete Design by Devdas Menon
Steel Structures Design by Alan Williams
Ductile Design of Steel Structures by Michael Bruneau

4. Seismic Analysis and Design

Oh boy, this is my favorite part. I love designing buildings to resist earthquakes. I am living near one of the world’s most dangerous fault (Cascadia subduction zone). Dynamic analysis and design of structure is my favorite topic. I love doing this thing and I could do it forever. Just because it can present the biggest challenges ever. So in order to understand designing of structures in earthquakes you have to study dynamic analysis. You have to be good at mathematics. So here are some books on seismic analysis and design:

Modelling for Structural Analysis : Behavior and Basics by Powell
Seismic Design of reinforced concrete buildings by Jack Moehle
Seismic Design of Reinforced Concrete and Masonry Buildings by Paulay and Priestley
Displacement Based Seismic Design by Priestley
Plastic analysis of steel structures by M Bill wong
Plasticity in reinforced concrete by Wai Fah Chen

This was just about books. Now apart from this you should refer to building codes in your country. That will give you more information regarding design restrictions.


Youtube has pretty good collection of video lectures by experts in different field of structural engineering. For example NPTEL has good collection in almost every aspect of structural engineering. If you are learning finite element analysis you can look up for videos of Finite element analysis by Bathe and his whole video series from MIT will pop up.

Also you can refer to my blog structural madness if you are starting from basics: Structural Madness. I hope this was sufficient information for the books that you can refer in order to master structural engineering.

All the Best


  1. Thanks a lot. This is of great help to beginners like me.

  2. Thank you very much, I find it very helpful.


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