Module code: ENG1075

Module Overview

Engineering Geology & Geomechanics is explained in this module, not only as being significant in civil engineering works, but also as the root of sustainability. The lectures provide an explanation of the processes by which the rocks and soils are formed, how they behave as an engineering material and provide a valuable non-renewable resource for construction. The hazards geological features pose to construction will also be considered. Particular emphasis is placed on both sediments as well as sedimentary rocks. In this way the basic tools for characterising engineering soils will be outlined. Initial understanding of stresses in the soils. The module will also cover the flow of water in soils as well as practical sessions on borehole logging and five day residential field course in Devon which reinforces the learning from the lectures and borehole logging. This module is supplemented by two laboratory sessions covering soil/rock description and soil physical and flow characterisation.

Module provider

Sustainability, Civil & Env Engineering

Module Leader

WOODS Rick (Civl Env Eng)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 4

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

Overall student workload

Independent Learning Hours: 70

Tutorial Hours: 12

Laboratory Hours: 4

Practical/Performance Hours: 24

Guided Learning: 25

Captured Content: 15

Module Availability

Semester 2

Prerequisites / Co-requisites

Normal entry requirements for a degree course in Civil Engineering

Module content

Indicative content includes:

  • Recognition, nature and origin of common geomaterials

Basic recognition characteristics and classification of igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic rocks. Description common soil and rocks according to BS EN ISO 14688 & 14689 and BS5930:1999. Characterisation and classification of engineering soils. Natural construction materials and associated sustainability issues in terms of reserves and environmental impact of extraction from the ground.

  • Soil phase relationship and index properties:

Soil phase or block diagram, mass-volume & weight-volume relationship, particle size distribution curve, sieve analysis, hydrometer analysis, relative density, liquid limit, plastic limit, shrinkage limit.

  • Stress in soils and hydrostatic pressure:

Total stress, effective stress, pore water pressure, stress in the soils due to surface load.

  • Groundwater

Groundwater in its various forms (artesian and perched groundwater conditions) and its importance in construction.

  • Permeability and Seepage

Darcy’s law; coefficient of permeability and factors affecting it, the Laplace equation and various solutions (e.g. flow nets) , Dupuit approach; anisotropy, its causes and incorporation in solutions is considered. The quick condition, seepage through earth dams is reviewed.

  • Geohazards

A range of hazards to structures and construction associated with earthquakes, volcanoes, landslip, shrinkable soils, collapsing soils and subsidence are reviewed. Issues associated with some geotechnical hazards relating to climate change are discussed. 

  • Geological fieldwork

The recognition and description of geomaterials and geological structures together with the construction of a 3D ground model based on borehole log is covered in this activity. An introduction to health and safety issues related to fieldwork forms an integral part of this activity.

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Practical based assessment PRACTICAL PORTFOLIO 30

Alternative Assessment

  • Alternative instrument of assessment for fieldwork: coursework related to the fieldwork (including a presentation). [Learning outcomes assessed 2, 5, 6, b, d, e, f, g]
  • Alternative instrument of assessment for Laboratory work, coursework related to the description of selected soils and rocks and coursework related to soil physical and flow characteristics.

Assessment Strategy

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

  • Explain the basic principles of geology, describe geological features and hazards, geosustainability and seepage theory (Learning outcomes 1, 2, 3, 4, 5,7). This is assessed through a 2 hour unseen examination.

  • Demonstrate practical skills in recognition and description of common geomaterials and their physical and flow characteristics. This is assessed through laboratory work and subsequent reporting and interpretation of results (Learning outcomes 2, 4, a,b,c,f,g).

  • Demonstrate the necessary practical skills to recognise, describe and interpret geological features. This is assessed through fieldwork tasks together with oral and paper presentation of results (eg geological mapping) (Learning outcomes 2,5,6,b,d,e,f,g).

  • Interpret geological maps (Learning outcomes 5,b,c,e,g). This is assessed through fieldwork mapping task and unseen examination.

Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:

  • Examination [Learning outcomes assessed 1, 2, 3, 4, 5,7] (2 hours,60%)

  • Fieldwork comprising rock material and rock mass description, description of geological features through sketching and commentary and geological mapping through daily reports [Learning outcomes assessed 2, 5, 6, b, d, e, f, g] (27 hours,20%)

  • Soil and Rock description [Learning outcomes assessed 2,b,g] (15 hours, 10%) and Soil physical and flow characteristics [Learning outcomes assessed 4, a, b, c] (15 hours,10%).

Formative assessment and feedback

Formative assessment will be through a range of self assessment excersises provided on SurreyLearn. These excersises will provide automatic feedback where necessary. Feedback will also be given in tutorial sessions.

Students will receive written feedback on the laboratory work as well as verbal feedback. Both verbal and written feedback will be provided on the fieldwork.

Module aims

  • Provide an appreciation of the nature and range of geological features and hazards, and their occurrence
  • Describe potential impact of geological and geotechnical hazards on civil engineering construction
  • Describe the sources of the principal type of construction materials and to consider their sustainability
  • Provide the ability to recognise and describe common geomaterials and characterise soils based on their physical properties
  • Describe the understanding of total stress, effective stress and porewater pressure
  • Provide the ability to assess desired density in the field
  • Provide the ability to construct a simple geological model of the ground based on borehole log and field evidence

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 Describe a range of ground related hazards and risks and explain their significance for civil engineering construction. K
002 Recognise and describe a range of commonly occurring geomaterials and geological structures. KCPT
003 Characterise engineering soils in terms of their physical properties CPT
004 Determine compaction characteristics of soil KPT
005 Understand the concept of stress in soils KCPT
006 Evaluate one- and two-dimensional steady-state flow problems associated with soils KCPT
007 Interpret borehole logs in terms of soil strata and soil properties KCPT
008 Construct a basic geological model of a site through the application of borehole log, field observations and measurements KCPT
009 Recognise the issues associated with the use of geomaterials in engineering construction in relation to sustainability K
010 Technical report writing T
011 Oral & written communication T
012 Graphical presentation of data T
013 Sketching T
014 3D spatial awareness T
015 Critical thinking T
016 Observation T

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Methods of Teaching / Learning

This module forms to foundation to all the modules in Geotechnical Engineering at FHEQ Levels 5, 6 and 7 on the BEng and MEng programmes in Civil Engineering. It provides a basic knowledge of geology, geomechanics, seepage theory and the characterisation of engineering soils. It also reinforces some of the knowledge gained from ENG1063 in terms of the sources of commonly used construction materials and issues of sustainability.

The module is delivered principally by lectures but also includes laboratory work in seepage and the recognition and description of geomaterials. In addition the module introduces the students to ground mapping using borehole log interpretation through practical sessions and fieldwork. The fieldwork element is also a key component in reinforcing the student’s knowledge of geological structures as well as the description of rock material and rock masses.

The tentative learning and teaching methods include:

  • Geology and Geomechanics Lectures/Tutorials (20 hours)

  • Soil seepage Lectures/Tutorials (10hours)

  • Soil & Rock identification and description laboratory class (2 hours)

  • Soil physical and flow characteristics laboratory class (2 hours)

  • Geology fieldwork (22 hours)

  • Directed and guided reading (including revision, assessments and preparation for lab classes and fieldwork) (78 hours)

  • Report writing (16 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
Upon accessing the reading list, please search for the module using the module code: ENG1075

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Civil Engineering BEng (Hons) 2 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Civil Engineering MEng 2 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% 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 2021/2 academic year.