Module code: ENGM272

Module Overview

Civil engineers are often called on to design systems that will support large structures at depth or steep / vertical faces in soil. The former case will normally require large foundations, sometimes at depth whereas the latter may require an earth-retaining structure of some kind. Ground modifications techniques are often employed to improve the physical properties of ground before construction begins.  This module applies the basic principles of soil mechanics to the safe and sustainable design of large foundations and earth-retaining structures.

Module provider

Sustainability, Civil & Env Engineering

Module Leader

BHATTACHARYA Suby (Civl Env Eng)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 7

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

Overall student workload

Independent Learning Hours: 73

Seminar Hours: 18

Tutorial Hours: 4

Guided Learning: 44

Captured Content: 11

Module Availability

Semester 2

Prerequisites / Co-requisites

A knowledge of basic soil mechanics and structural mechanics to FHEQ Level 6.

Module content

Indicative content includes:

  • Overview of foundation design

Flow chart and basic ingredients for foundation design, summary of soil parameters and soil testing required, engineering correlations for obtaining soil parameters

  • Design of shallow foundations (carrying moments) and deep foundations

Bearing capacity for shallow foundations with large moments, types of pile foundations and the method of construction, Bridge foundations and design considerations under special conditions (seismic areas), geotechnical bearing capacity of piles (shaft resistance and end bearing using API Code), Structural capacity of piles, Eurocode provisions, settlement calculations, analysis of laterally loaded piles (p-y, t-z, q-z), Stiffness of piles and caissons, Analysis of caissons supporting bridges

  • Earth-Retaining Structures

Limit states for design, General Wall selection (sheet pile, secant piles, contiguous piles, diaphragm wall), Practical design issues, Case histories

  • Ground Improvement:

Requirements for ground improvement, ground improvement techniques widely used in practice: principles on each type of ground improvement methods and their suitability, case studies on ground improvement methods.

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Coursework COURSEWORK 25

Alternative Assessment


Assessment Strategy

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

·         Knowledge and understanding of the principles of deep foundation and earth-retaining structure design (LOs 1-5) – assessed through a 2-hour unseen examination.

·         The ability to solve open-ended design problems using real data (LOs 3, 5)  - assessed through coursework assignments.

Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:

·         Foundation design coursework due Week 8 of Semester 2

·         Examination (2 hours, closed book)

Formative assessment and feedback

Feedback will be given on both coursework assignments, in the form of generic comments through SurreyLearn and more detailed and individualised feedback given on the marked assignments within the time allowed for marking coursework. Formative assessment will be through solving problems in class (and getting feedback on the correct solution there and then) and also through tackling tutorial sheets – for which feedback takes the form of full worked solutions posted on SurreyLearn after the student has had an opportunity to try the problems for him/herself.

Module aims

  • understanding the overview of foundation design through the use of generic flowchart and the required basic ingredients
  • understanding of the failure mechanisms for foundations and earth-retaining structures through Limit States
  • ability to carry out analysis and design of foundations (deep foundations for complex applications, shallow foundations with large moments) using different codes of practices.
  • understanding of some fundamental design issues through case studies and assignment work
  • understanding of some design and analysis issues for foundations (to provide an appreciation of the issues related to foundation construction)
  • knowledge and understanding of design and the need for site investigation 
  • an overview and broader understanding of ground improvement techniques including design methodologies  

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 Carry out design of deep foundations for major bridges, oil platforms, wind turbines K
002 Identify relevant limit states for foundation design K
003 Carry out earth pressure calculations for earth retaining structures KCT
004 Forensic studies of foundation failures under different conditions KCPT
005 Prepare a design basis document for complex foundation design KCPT
006 Carry out design of shallow foundation with large overturning moment KCPT
007 Select foundation options for a specfic project and compare the advantages and limitations of different types of foundations KCPT
008 Select appropriate analysis methods to be used for foundation design KCPT
009 Identify appropriate soil testing, and interprete soil testing data to obtain the design parameters. KCPT
010 Identify preliminary design requirements for ground improvement methods. T
011 Appreciate that changes to a retaining wall or foundation design require a reassessment of risks
012 Independent learning skills T
013 Oral & written communication T
014 Graphical presentation of data T
015 Synthesis of data T
016 3D spatial awareness T
017 Use of word processor, spreadsheet, drawings T
018 Critical thinking

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Methods of Teaching / Learning

The learning and teaching strategy is designed to:

Build on students’ knowledge of geotechnical engineering and help them to apply it to the design and analysis of deep foundations and earth-retaining structures.  

The learning and teaching methods include:

  • combined lectures/problem-solving/software demonstration classes (3hrs per week for 11 weeks = 33hrs)

  • independent learning (reading, tutorials, using software, coursework assignments, and revision) (115hrs)

  • unseen written examination (closed book) (2hrs)


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: ENGM272

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Advanced Geotechnical Engineering MSc 2 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module
Bridge Engineering MSc 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module
Structural Engineering MSc 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module
Infrastructure Engineering and Management MSc 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module
Civil Engineering MSc 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module
Civil Engineering MEng 2 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 2021/2 academic year.