Megastructures - The Engineering Behind Ancient Monuments and Modern Marvels


During the course, we will go through the history of the most famous builds starting with ancient civilizations. We will learn how new materials have evolved through history and their impact on construction and modern architecture. The longest bridges, the tallest skyscrapers, the most famous canals, and the biggest dams will be introduced through case studies in order to illustrate the complex engineering behind them.

Challenges and solutions in foundation design, superstructure construction, and maintenance will be examined. We also examine how the world's tallest skyscraper the Burj Khalifa was built; why the Millennium bridge swayed and what it took to construct the Eurotunnel; these and many other examples will be covered in order to explain the extraordinary obstacles engineers have had to overcome in the construction of such marvels.

We will also discuss the longevity of megastructures in the face of man-made and natural hazards such as wind, water and earthquakes.

Programme details

Courses start: 2nd June 2023

Week 1:  Ancient civilizations and their advanced structures

Week 2:  Bridge the gap: connecting the world

Week 3:  The sky’s the limit: how to build a skyscraper

Week 4:  Dams, canals, and tunnels - controversies and successes

Week 5:  Extraordinary megaprojects and future developments


Students who register for CATS points will receive a Record of CATS points on successful completion of their course assessment.

To earn credit (CATS points) you will need to register and pay an additional £10 fee per course. You can do this by ticking the relevant box at the bottom of the enrolment form or when enrolling online.

Coursework is an integral part of all weekly classes and everyone enrolled will be expected to do coursework in order to benefit fully from the course. Only those who have registered for credit will be awarded CATS points for completing work at the required standard.

Students who do not register for CATS points during the enrolment process can either register for CATS points prior to the start of their course or retrospectively from the January 1st after the current full academic year has been completed. If you are enrolled on the Certificate of Higher Education you need to indicate this on the enrolment form but there is no additional registration fee.


Description Costs
Course Fee £130.00
Take this course for CATS points £10.00


Dr Olga Areshkovych

Dr Areshkovych has a Master’s degree in Civil Engineering, a doctorate in Geotechnical Engineering, and over 12 years experience as a University lecturer. She was a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Michigan, and a Visiting Lecturer at University College London, conducting research on offshore wind farm foundations. Olga is currently a STEM ambassador in the UK.

Course aims

To introduce the student to the evolution of engineering solutions behind both ancient and modern built wonders of the world: bridges, tunnels, canals, skyscrapers, artificial islands, and extreme environments, among others. 

Course Objectives:

Students will learn how the most iconic megastructures were built as well as what challenges those projects overcame. The course will also cover the use of engineering solutions to build and sustain structures in the face of a wide variety of natural and man-made hazards. Case studies will be supported with real-life examples along with videos about remarkable megaprojects.

Teaching methods

  • Powerpoint presentations.
  • Classwork/discussions/debates.
  • Case studies.
  • Practical demonstrations and experiments.
  • Video presentations.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course students will be expected to:

1. have basic knowledge of the engineering principles behind megastructure projects;

2. communicate their understanding using the appropriate terminology;

3. understand the main challenges involved in large construction projects;

4. show awareness of modern innovations in construction technology.

Assessment methods

As part of formative coursework, students are encouraged to complete an exercise preparing them for their summative assignment (e.g. essay plan). This should be up to 500 words (or equivalent).

Formally assessed coursework, submitted at the end of the course, is a single, 750-word essay on a topic of their choice and a short Powerpoint presentation based on their research.

Students must submit a completed Declaration of Authorship form at the end of term when submitting their final piece of work. CATS points cannot be awarded without the aforementioned form - Declaration of Authorship form


To earn credit (CATS points) for your course you will need to register and pay an additional £10 fee per course. You can do this by ticking the relevant box at the bottom of the enrolment form or when enrolling online.

Please use the 'Book' or 'Apply' button on this page. Alternatively, please complete an application form.

Level and demands

Introductory level so basic concepts will be covered in each lecture and illustrated with a variety of examples such as high profile engineering projects like the Burj Khalifa, Chernobyl New Safe Containment structure, etc.

Mathematical content will be kept to a minimum.

Most of the Department's weekly classes have 10 or 20 CATS points assigned to them. 10 CATS points at FHEQ Level 4 usually consist of ten 2-hour sessions. 20 CATS points at FHEQ Level 4 usually consist of twenty 2-hour sessions. It is expected that, for every 2 hours of tuition you are given, you will engage in eight hours of private study.

Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (CATS)