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ECM3157 - Geotechnics 2 (2019)

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MODULE CODEECM3157 MODULE CONVENERDr Amir Hosein Sakhaei (Coordinator)
DURATION: WEEKS 11 weeks 0 0
Number of Students Taking Module (anticipated) 39
DESCRIPTION - summary of the module content

A good knowledge of the philosophies and techniques of geotechnical design and analysis are essential elements of the training of civil engineers, and this module will give you a useful grounding in these important topics. You will get the chance to interpret geological features in the field and gain experience of field observation and measurement techniques, site investigation and preliminary design of a civil engineering structure. Furthermore, you will develop essential awareness of ground conditions and general safety on civil engineering sites. Finally, you will learn how to assess stresses in the soil mass, bearing capacity and  settlement of shallow and deep foundations, stability of gravity and embedded retaining walls and stability of slopes.

Prerequisite module: ECM2110 or equivalent

AIMS - intentions of the module

To introduce you to the techniques of geotechnical design and analysis and their limitations, the underlying philosophies of current geotechnical practice, and different practical applications in civil engineering projects, such as the design of foundations, the design of retaining walls and the stability of slopes.



INTENDED LEARNING OUTCOMES (ILOs) (see assessment section below for how ILOs will be assessed)

This is a constituent module of one or more degree programmes which are accredited by a professional engineering institution under licence from the Engineering Council. The learning outcomes for this module have been mapped to the output standards required for an accredited programme, as listed in the current version of the Engineering Council’s ‘Accreditation of Higher Education Programmes’ document (AHEP-V3).

This module contributes to learning outcomes: SM2m, SM5m, EA1m, EA2m, EA3m, EA6m, D1m, D2m, D3m, D4m, D5m, D6m, ET2, ET4, EP3m, EP6m, G1m, G4m

A full list of the referenced outcomes is provided online:

The AHEP document can be viewed in full on the Engineering Council’s website, at

On successful completion of this module, you should be able to:

Module Specific Skills and Knowledge: SM2m, SM5m

1 understand the physical and mechanical properties of soils and methods of determination of soil parameters;

2 display competence in analysing and solving problems related to geotechnical engineering;

3 appreciate the influence of soils and ground conditions on the design of civil engineering structures;

4 apply techniques acquired in previous modules to site investigation, field measurements, geotechnical analysis, observations and the practice observations in the field;

5 comprehend the relevance of geology and the role of geotechnical engineering in civil engineering;

6 relate geotechnical engineering considerations to analysis and design of civil engineering projects;

7 grasp the variability inherent in field data.

Discipline Specific Skills and Knowledge: EA1m, EA2m, EA3m, EA6m, D1m, D2m, D3m, D4m, D5m, ET2, ET4, EP3m, EP6m

8 fathom the variability of natural materials and how this influences the choice of design parameters;

9 demonstrate a deep understanding of the main concepts of the mechanical behaviour of soils;

10 use laboratory and in-situ test results in practical design;

11 show awareness of engineering design procedures through being able to estimate the reliability of soil parameters;

12 recognise how parameters measured in the field are used in design calculations;

13 take notes and make sketches in the field;

14 exhibit awareness of health and safety aspects of work on site.

Personal and Key Transferable/ Employment Skills and Knowledge: D6m, G1m, G4m

15 exemplify observational skills in field work;

16 prove analytical skills in all the module topic areas;

17 reveal technical descriptive writing skills through writing reports on a field course and on laboratory testing;

18 cope with a long work day (daytime in the field followed up by exercises in the evening essential for the following day).

SYLLABUS PLAN - summary of the structure and academic content of the module

- stresses in soils: stresses at a point in a soil mass, geostatic stresses, stresses induced by various types of applied load, contact pressure;

- lateral earth pressure, retaining walls, gravity walls, cantilever and anchored sheet pile walls, braced excavations, diaphragm walls and reinforced soils;

- compression and consolidation of soils: immediate settlement, primary and secondary consolidation, foundation design criteria, theory of one-dimensional consolidation, governing equations, analytical and numerical solutions.

- bearing capacity of foundations: types of foundations, analytical methods for determination of the ultimate bearing capacity, determination of safe bearing capacity,  in-situ testing for ultimate bearing capacity, bearing capacity of pile foundations.

- slope stability: slopes in granular materials, circular arc analysis under undrained conditions, method of slices, wedge analysis, progressive failure, end-of construction and long-term stability; 

- choice of strength parameters; 


- fieldwork: the activities will include: surveying exercise, group discussions about stages of preliminary design of an earth dam, including best location for a dam, water resources study, environmental issues associated with construction of dams, site investigation activities and design of in-situ and laboratory tests; 

- site reconnaissance, surveying of the dam site, ground investigation (including drilling boreholes, carrying out in-situ tests, taking samples and carrying out laboratory tests; 

- analysis of the laboratory and in-situ test results, analysis and preliminary design of an earth dam, writing a report.

Scheduled Learning & Teaching Activities 101.00 Guided Independent Study 49.00 Placement / Study Abroad 0.00
Category Hours of study time Description
Scheduled learning and teaching activities 24 Lectures
Scheduled learning and teaching activities 12 Tutorials
Scheduled learning and teaching activities 15 Laboratories
Scheduled learning and teaching activities 10 Field work lectures
Scheduled learning and teaching activities 40 Field instruction
Guided independent learning 49 Preparation for scheduled tutorials, lectures, laboratory sessions and follow-up work, wider reading or practice, completion of assessment tasks, revision.


FORMATIVE ASSESSMENT - for feedback and development purposes; does not count towards module grade
Form of Assessment Size of Assessment (e.g. duration/length) ILOs Assessed Feedback Method
Not applicable      


Coursework 15 Written Exams 50 Practical Exams 35
Form of Assessment % of Credit Size of Assessment (e.g. duration/length) ILOs Assessed Feedback Method
Written exam – closed book 50 2 hours - January Exam 1-12, 16 Revision of previous year's exam papers
Coursework – technical report on laboratory tests 15 15-20 pages 1-12, 14-17 Feedback on reports
Practical – group report on field activities 35 20-25 pages 1-18 Feedback on reports


DETAILS OF RE-ASSESSMENT (where required by referral or deferral)
Original Form of Assessment Form of Re-assessment ILOs Re-assessed Time Scale for Re-reassessment
All above Written exam (100%) All August Ref/Def period



If a module is normally assessed entirely by coursework, all referred/deferred assessments will normally be by assignment.

If a module is normally assessed by examination or examination plus coursework, referred and deferred assessment will normally be by examination. For referrals, only the examination will count, a mark of 40% being awarded if the examination is passed. For deferrals, candidates will be awarded the higher of the deferred examination mark or the deferred examination mark combined with the original coursework mark.

INDICATIVE LEARNING RESOURCES - The following list is offered as an indication of the type & level of
information that you are expected to consult. Further guidance will be provided by the Module Convener


Reading list for this module:

Smith, GN and Smith, IGN. Elements of Soil Mechanics. 7th Edition, Blackwell Science 1998. ISBN: 000-0-632-04126-9

Craig , R.F. Soil Mechanics.E and F N Spon (Chapman & Hall) 2012. ISBN: 978-0471431176

Budhu, M. Soil Mechanics and Foundations. 2nd Edition, John Wiley & Sons 2000. ISBN: 978-0471431176

Das, B. Principles of Geotechnical Engineering, Thompson Learning 2007. ISBN: 000-0-534-38742-x

Azizi, F. Physical Behaviour in Geotechnics. Fethi Azizi 2007. ISBN: 978-0955599620

Azizi, F. Engineering design in geotechnics. Fethi Azizi 2007. ISBN: 9780955599613

Reading list for this module:

Type Author Title Edition Publisher Year ISBN Search
Set Craig , R.F Soil Mechanics E and F N Spon (Chapman & Hall) 2012 000-0-419-22450-5 [Library]
Set Budhu, M Soil Mechanics and Foundations 2nd John Wiley & Sons 2000 978-0471431176 [Library]
Set Das, B Principles of Geotechnical Engineering Thompson Learning 2007 000-0-534-38742-x [Library]
Set Smith, GN and Smith, IGN Elements of Soil Mechanics 7th Blackwell Science 1998 000-0-632-04126-9 [Library]
Set Azizi, F Physical Behaviour in Geotechnics Fethi Azizi 2007 978-0955599620 [Library]
Set Azizi, F Engineering design in geotechnics Fethi Azizi 2007 9780955599613 [Library]
ORIGIN DATE Tuesday 10 July 2018 LAST REVISION DATE Tuesday 10 July 2018
KEY WORDS SEARCH Geotechnical engineering; soil mechanics; consolidation and settlement; shallow and deep foundations; retaining walls; slope stability; geotechnical design; field course.