Module code: ENGM271

Module Overview

This module is designed to provide insights into aspects of design of specialist geotechnical structures (dams, tunnels and deep basements).

Module provider

Civil and Environmental Engineering

Module Leader

CAVARRETTA I Dr (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


Factors influencing design, type of earth dams,  control of pore pressure, failure and damages, dynamic safety, surface drying, overtop, seepage analysis, difficult subsoil conditions, stability analyses, implementation of limit equilibrium methods using MATLAB, interfaces and filters, internal erosion, special remediation methods, treatement of rock foundation, embankment construction, in situ measurements and control, service control and rutinal investigations, improvement of poorly constructed embankments, use of Eurocodes, hydraulic control, sedimentation, decommissioning


Tunnel and structural safety, Different construction methods: TBM, NATM, SCL (spray concrete lining), shaft construction, tunnelling methods in rock, empirical design methods, analytical and numerical (FEM) approach, ground movement, site investigation required, in situ measurements, observational approach, hazards and mitigation measures

Deep Basement

Demand for deep basements in densely populated cities, displacement and stability requirements, seepage, ground heave, solutions and stage construction to minimize the disturbance in nearby structures, underpinning and overall stability, hazards and mitigation measures

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Examination 2 HOUR EXAMINATION 60
Coursework COURSEWORK 40

Alternative Assessment


Assessment Strategy

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

Ability to process real data and undertake specific calculations for the optimal choice of materials and sizing of the constructions through one Coursework covering the three sections (dams, tunnels and deep basements)
Knowledge and understanding of advanced design of geotechnical structures and skills in closed form solutions through a 2 hour unseen examination

Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:

·         Examination [Learning outcomes assessed 1, 2, 3, 4, 5] (2 hours) {60%}

·         Coursework [Learning outcomes assessed 5] (38 hours) {40%}

Formative assessment and feedback

Formative Feedback will also be given in tutorial sessions and after specific request using SurreyLearn.

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

Module aims

  • Explain the main aspects of engineering design of geotechnical stuctures (dams, tunnels and deep basements)
  • Study the conditons that may influence the design of geotechnical stuctures
  • Illustrate how to synthesize soil and material data for a design and define methodologies/techniques for soil and material characterization
  • Describe and study the causes and mechanisms of failure
  • Introduce robust computational methods for analysis (analytical and/or numerical approach)
  • Provide the ability to design and implement in situ investigation for detailed design
  • Provide the ability to plan the construction of geotechnical structutes and establish a program of monitoring
  • Explain criteria for observational approach

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 Process data to define basic schemes for analyizing and designing engineering solutions. Apply engineering judgement KCPT
002 Identify and interpret the limitation of design methods and calculations in order to finalize optimal solution KCPT
003 Perform analytical and numerical analysis and critically assess the validity of the characterization assumed in the design KC
004 Define a range of scenarios to be used for sensitivity analysis within observational approach T
005 Independent learning skills T
006 Oral & written communication T
007 Graphical presentation of data T
008 Synthesis of data T
009 3D spatial awareness T
010 Use of word processor, spreadsheet, drawings T
011 Critical thinking T

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Overall student workload

Independent Study Hours: 120

Lecture Hours: 30

Methods of Teaching / Learning

The learning and teaching strategy is designed to:

Improve the awareness and skills required for the design and analysis of geotechnics structures (dams, tunnels and deep basements), and will be delivered principally by lectures with tutorial/question classes.

The learning and teaching methods include:

Lectures and tutorials (30 hours)

Dams [Lectures (8 hours), tutorials (5 hours)]

Tunnels [Lectures (8 hours), tutorials (5 hours)]

Deep Basements [Lectures (2 hours), tutorials (2 hours)]

Directed and guided reading (78 hours)
Coursework writing (40 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
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.