Fall 2020 - BPK 201 D100

Biomechanics (3)

Class Number: 6008

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Mo, We 3:30 PM – 4:50 PM

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Dec 18, 2020
    12:00 PM – 3:00 PM

  • Instructor:

    Steve Robinovitch
    1 778 782-3566
    Office: K9642
  • Prerequisites:

    MATH 150, 151 or 154, MATH 152 or 155 (may be taken concurrently), PHYS 101 (or 120 or 125 or 140), BPK 142.



This course will cover the application of basic mechanics to human movement. It will provide students with a basic understanding of how forces act on body segments and how movements are produced. The subject matter of this course is relevant to quantifying all forms of physical activity, from activities of daily living, physically challenged movement patterns, to elite athletic performance. It also has applications in medical settings, including rehabilitation and sports medicine. Quantitative.


BPK 201 applies the principles of Newtonian mechanics to analyze humans movement. The course examines the forces that are generated in muscles and joints to support external loads and produce  movements. The subject matter of the course is relevant to quantifying all forms of physical activity, including activities of daily living, athletic performance, and physically challenged movement patterns. The course will draw on numerous examples relevant to rehabilitation, sports medicine and orthopaedics. This course is designated quantitative. 

BPK 201 is a 13-week course with 3 hours of lecture per week and one 50-minute tutorial per week. The class will meet Mondays and Wednesdays between 3:30 – 4:50 for live Zoom sessions, that include lectures and time for questions and answers. We will work to video record these sessions for later viewing.

Lecture Outline

  1. Forces: Part 1
  2. Forces: Part 2
  3. Moments/ torques: Part 1 
  4. Moments/ torques: Part 2 
  5. Static equilibrium: using free body diagrams to analyze muscle and joint loads during stationary activities 
  6. Free body diagrams: rules for construction 
  7. Centre-of-mass and centre-of-pressure 
  8. Anthropometry for biomechanical models 
  9. Applications: biomechanics of lifting 
  10. Applications: biomechanics of single-legged stance 
  11. Mechanical properties of muscle: force-length and force-velocity behaviour 
  12. Kinematics: linear and angular systems for describing movement 
  13. Motion capture and wearable sensors 
  14. Kinematics: numerical differentiation and integration 
  15. Joint energy: how muscles propel and brake movements through concentric and eccentric contractions 
  16. Dynamic equilibrium: expanding the free-body diagram to consider conservation of momentum in human body movements 
  17. Biomechanics of human balance 
  18. Impulse and momentum: dynamics of jump take-offs and landings 
  19. Mass-spring models of human body impact and cushioning with protective gear 
  20. Biomechanics of human gait 


 It is the responsibility of the student to keep their BPK course outlines if they plan on furthering their education.

Missed Exams:

Students who miss examinations due to exceptional circumstances (such as serious illness or compassionate reasons) are required to obtain a physician's certificate, whereby the physician states that you were unable to write your midterm or final on the set date due to a medical condition beyond your control, or other supporting documents in order to obtain consideration in the course. Such documents must be filed with the Department Chair (via the Biomedical Physiology and Kinesiology office) or Registrar within four calendar days of the date on which the examination was to have been written. Exceptional circumstances must be approved by the Undergraduate Program Committee in order for a student to receive consideration. Students must check the examination schedule when making course selections. Students are reminded that final examinations may be scheduled at any time during the examination period and that students should avoid making travel or employment arrangements for this period. In the event of a missed midterm or final examination the instructors reserve the right to give an oral examination of the material. Approximate midterm dates are provided, but may be subject to change.


BPK Grading Policy:

For more information on the department's grading policy & guidelines go to: 



Student Learning Outcomes for BPK 201  

(I) Introduces (E) Emphasizes (R) Reinforces (A) Applies 

Learning outcomes: at the end of the course, students will be able to:

  1. Apply biomechanical principles to solve quantitative and qualitative problems. (I)(R) (TE) (IC) (A) (P)
  2. Correctly apply free body diagrams to isolate mechanical systems and solve for joint torques and forces
  3. Understand the inertial properties of body segments for linear and angular movement these systems, and correctly draw free body diagrams. (I) (TE) (IC) (A)
  4. Apply biomechanical principles to the whole body and/or individual components to construct biomechanical models of human systems. (I) (TE) (IC) (A) (P)
  5. Explain the function of biomechanical equipment and devices, including motion capture and force plates.  (I) (TE) (IC) (A)
  6. Quantify human motion, including linear and angular kinematics. (I)(R) (TE) (IC) (A)
  7. Understand how muscle forces stabilize joints against external loads.  (I)(R) (TE) (IC) (A)
  8. Describe the principle of balance and stability, particularly in human standing and walking. (I)(R) (TE) (IC) (A)
  9. Describe the concepts and equations of static and dynamic equilibrium, and the application of inverse and forward dynamics models for estimating joint loads and for system identification. (I)(R) (TE) (IC) (A) (P)
  10. Explain how muscle, bone, cartilage and tendon are designed to meet the mechanical demands of daily activities and how they respond to trauma. (I) (TE) (IC) (A)
  11. Describe how muscle generate force and perform work. (I)(R) (TE) (IC) (A) (P)
  12. Explain applications of biomechanics in exercise and athletics, rehabilitation, injury prevention, sports medicine and orthopaedics.  (I) (TE) (IC) (A) (P)



Assessment Method: 


(TE) Theory exams are a mix of quantitative problem solving, short answer questions, multiple choice and fill in the blanks (one midterm and final)

(IC) Online (Canvas) quizzes on lecture material are multiple choice.

(A) Assignments are mostly formal problems requiring quantitative solutions, which are completed independently. Assignments will also have components related to updates on progress in the term projects.

(P) Term projects are done in groups who work together to develop short videos that address controversies in biomechanics.




Canvas quizzes




Midterm exam


Assignments (3 x 5%)


Term project


Final exam




Penalties for Missed Deadlines


There will be no extensions on deadlines for assignments, except for extenuating medical circumstances and/or family emergencies. Please plan in advance to ensure you meet the deadlines. A penalty of 20% per day will be deducted for each day an assignment is late.


A missed exam can only be rewritten if the instructor is notified before the exam would be written and if medical evidence of inability to write is presented. Excused absence from the midterm may require a make-up exam, or heavier weighting of scores on the assignments and the final exam, at the discretion of the instructor.


If you are unable to make a deadline or attend an exam, please complete the SFU Health Care Provider Statement.


The tutorial topics will mainly be lecture reviews and sample problem solving. Tutorial attendance is not mandatory. However, if you do attend, you must attend your own tutorial group unless you have specific agreement with the TA that it is OK to switch for that week.



Özkaya N, Leger D, Goldsheyder D, Nordin M: Fundamentals of Biomechanics Equilibrium, Motion, and Deformation. 4th edition, 2017. ISBN: 3319447386. NOTE: This textbook is available online for SFU students at: https://link-springer-com.proxy.lib.sfu.ca/content/pdf/10.1007%2F978-3-319-44738-4.pdf

Department Undergraduate Notes:

It is the responsibility of the student to keep their BPK course outlines if they plan on furthering their education.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html


Teaching at SFU in fall 2020 will be conducted primarily through remote methods. There will be in-person course components in a few exceptional cases where this is fundamental to the educational goals of the course. Such course components will be clearly identified at registration, as will course components that will be “live” (synchronous) vs. at your own pace (asynchronous). Enrollment acknowledges that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes. To ensure you can access all course materials, we recommend you have access to a computer with a microphone and camera, and the internet. In some cases your instructor may use Zoom or other means requiring a camera and microphone to invigilate exams. If proctoring software will be used, this will be confirmed in the first week of class.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who believe they may need class or exam accommodations, including in the current context of remote learning, are encouraged to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112).