Module code: ENGM269

Module Overview

This module is designed to provide insights into aspects of advanced soil mechanics, which are necessary to carry out design of geotechnical structures and foundations.

Module provider

Civil and Environmental Engineering

Module Leader

CUI Liang (Civl Env Eng)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 7

JACs code: H250

Module cap (Maximum number of students): N/A

Module Availability

Semester 1

Prerequisites / Co-requisites

A knowledge of basic soil mechanics to FHEQ Level 6

Module content

Indicative content includes:

  • Revision of basic soil mechanics

Index properties of soil, soil classification, charicterisation and testing, permeability, compressibility and consolidation, fundamental soil testing

  • Strength of soil

Effective stress concept, undrained strength of clay, drained strength of sand and clay (peak, residual, critical state)

  • Soil stiffness

Undrained/drained modulus, Young’s modulus, shear modulus, bulk modulus, strain level, stiffness variation against depth, anisotropy.

  • Constitutive models for soil

Basic FE in geotechnical engineering, stress paths, compression and swelling, normal compression line (NCL), critical state line (CSL), Mohr-Coulomb model, Cam-clay model, critical state framework

  • Advanced soil testing

Cyclic triaxial tests, dynamic simple shear, bender element test, resonant column test.

  • Site Investigation

Exloration and sampling, in-situ testing, interpretation of test data.

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Examination 2 HOUR EXAM 70
Coursework COURSEWORK 30

Alternative Assessment


Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate

  • Knowledge and understanding of advanced aspect of soil behaviour, appropriate choice of stiffness in geotechnical design, and plan of experimental testing for attaining design parameters (LOs 1-5) are through a 2 hour unseen examination.

  • Ability to interpret advanced soil test data to obtain the design parameters (LO 5) is assessed through coursework.

Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:

·         Examination [Learning outcomes assessed 1, 2, 3, 4, 5] (2 hours) {70%}

·         Coursework: Process advanced soil test data provided; make appropriate selections for the design scenarios provided. [Learning outcomes assessed 5] (38 hours) {30%}

Formative assessment and feedback

Formative Feedback will also be given in tutorial sessions.

Students will receive written feedback on the coursework as well as verbal feedback. 

Module aims

  • interest students in the deeper aspects of geotechnical engineering.
  • introduce the drained and undrained shear strenth of soils and its implicaiton for geotechnical design.
  • introduce stiffness of soils, in particular its nolinearity and anosotropy.
  • provide students with advanced understanding of the constitutive models of soils including critical state framework.
  • introduce the advanced soil testing methods for obtaining the design parameters

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
1 Explain various aspect of soil behaviour including strength and stiffness. KC
2 Make an appropriate choice of strength parameters to be used in geotechnical design for various ground conditions and loading conditions. KCPT
3 Make an appropriate choice of soil stifness in geochnical design. KCPT
4 Compare the advantages and limitations of typical constitutive models of soil KCPT
5 Make an appropriate choice of soil testing, and interprete test data to obtain   paramters for a range of geotechnical design scenarios such as the design of earth retaining structures. KCPT
6 Independent learning skills T
7 Oral & written communication T
8 Graphical presentation of data T
9 Synthesis of data T
10 3D spatial awareness T
11 Use of word processor, spreadsheet, drawings T
12 Critical thinking T

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Overall student workload

Independent Study Hours: 117

Lecture Hours: 33

Methods of Teaching / Learning

The learning and teaching strategy is designed to:

  • cover advanced topics in geotechnical engineering in addition to the fundamental geotechnical engineering and soil mechanics found in undergraduate modules, and is delivered principally by lectures with tutorial/question classes.

The learning and teaching methods include:

  • Revision lectures/tutorials (4 hours)

  • Soil strength lectures/tutorials (4 hours)

  • Soil stiffness lectures/tutorials (4 hours)

  • Constitutive models lectures/tutorials (9 hours)

  • Advanced soil testing lectures/lab demonstration (6 hours)

  • Site investigation lectures/tutorials (3 hours)

  • Directed and guided reading (80 hours)

  • Coursework (38 hours)

  • Exam (2 Hours)


Indicated Lecture Hours (which may also include seminars, tutorials, workshops and other contact time) are approximate and may include in-class tests where one or more of these are an assessment on the module. In-class tests are scheduled/organised separately to taught content and will be published on to student personal timetables, where they apply to taken modules, as soon as they are finalised by central administration. This will usually be after the initial publication of the teaching timetable for the relevant semester.

Reading list


Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Structural Engineering MSc 1 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module
Civil Engineering MSc 1 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module
Bridge Engineering MSc 1 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module
Infrastructure Engineering and Management MSc 1 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module
Advanced Geotechnical Engineering MSc 1 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module
Civil Engineering MEng 1 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module

Please note that the information detailed within this record is accurate at the time of publishing and may be subject to change. This record contains information for the most up to date version of the programme / module for the 2018/9 academic year.