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CIVL3411: Geotechnical Engineering (2015 - Semester 2)

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Unit: CIVL3411: Geotechnical Engineering (6 CP)
Mode: Normal-Day
On Offer: Yes
Level: Senior
Faculty/School: Civil Engineering
Unit Coordinator/s: Dr Einav, Itai
Session options: Semester 2
Versions for this Unit:
Campus: Camperdown/Darlington
Pre-Requisites: None.
Brief Handbook Description: The objectives of this unit are to provide an understanding of the factors influencing soil strength, and to give practice in the application of this understanding by exploring the stability of slopes, retaining walls and foundations. At the end of this unit students will be able to: determine the strength parameters appropriate to a range of stability problems, and understand the difference between total and effective stress approaches; evaluate strength parameters from laboratory data; critically analyse foundation stability and slope stability problems; use spreadsheets to perform parametric studies and produce design charts for simple geotechnical design problems; and communicate the results of experiments and analyses using written methods appropriate for professional geotechnical engineers. The syllabus comprises; methods of analysis for gravity and sheet pile retaining walls; reinforced soil; slope stability, including modes of failure, analysis and computer methods; bearing capacity of shallow foundations under general loading, and axial and lateral capacities of deep pile foundations; the mechanical behaviour of sands and clays; and Critical State models.
Assumed Knowledge: CIVL2410.
Lecturer/s: Dr Gan, Yixiang
Tutor/s: Alessandro Tengattini, Danielle Griffani, Dang Khoa Phan
Timetable: CIVL3411 Timetable
Time Commitment:
# Activity Name Hours per Week Sessions per Week Weeks per Semester
1 Lecture 4.00 2 13
2 Tutorial 2.00 1 13
3 Independent Study 6.00 1 13
T&L Activities: Tutorials start in 2nd week of the semester. Attending the tutorial is compulsory. Students must attend the tutorial where they are specifically listed, unless approved by the coordinator.

Students should be aware that missing more than two tutorials can lead to failing the course, unless their absence is fully justified via the proper special consideration form.

Attributes listed here represent the key course goals (see Course Map tab) designated for this unit. The list below describes how these attributes are developed through practice in the unit. See Learning Outcomes and Assessment tabs for details of how these attributes are assessed.

Attribute Development Method Attribute Developed
Spreadsheet calculations are required to solve the problems given in the projects. In addition, students are instructed on how to perform parametric studies for simple geotechnical design problems Design (Level 2)
Specific analytical tools are taught that are required for geotechnical engineers Engineering/IT Specialisation (Level 3)
The first 4 weeks of the course focus on the fundamental of soil mechanics, from advanced models of the material to their use in critically designing engineering solution strategies. Maths/Science Methods and Tools (Level 3)
Students are required to submit their results through assignments/projects, following specific instructions on their written communication. Communication (Level 2)

For explanation of attributes and levels see Engineering & IT Graduate Outcomes Table.

Learning outcomes are the key abilities and knowledge that will be assessed in this unit. They are listed according to the course goal supported by each. See Assessment Tab for details how each outcome is assessed.

Engineering/IT Specialisation (Level 3)
1. Explain the effects of void-ratio, pressure, friction, and dilation on the strength of clays and sands using models of soil-mechanics.
2. Critically analyse slope and retaining walls stability problems, and shallow foundation and pile stability.
3. Use spreadsheets to perform parametric studies and produce design charts for simple geotechnical design problems
Maths/Science Methods and Tools (Level 3)
4. Determine the strength parameters appropriate to a range of stability problems, and understand the difference between total and effective stress approaches.
Communication (Level 2)
5. Communicate the results of analyses using written and visual methods appropriate for professional geotechnical engineers.
Assessment Methods:
# Name Group Weight Due Week Outcomes
1 Quiz No 15.00 Week 5 1, 4, 5,
2 2 project assignments (15% + 15%) No 30.00 Multiple Weeks 2, 3, 5,
3 Final Exam No 55.00 Exam Period 1, 2, 3, 4, 5,
Assessment Description: Project: Two project assignments (15% and 15%) due in week 8 and at end of semester.
Assessment Feedback: Every effort will be made to ensure that submitted work is returned within two weeks.
Grade Type Description
Standards Based Assessment Final grades in this unit are awarded at levels of HD for High Distinction, DI (previously D) for Distinction, CR for Credit, PS (previously P) for Pass and FA (previously F) for Fail as defined by University of Sydney Assessment Policy. Details of the Assessment Policy are available on the Policies website at . Standards for grades in individual assessment tasks and the summative method for obtaining a final mark in the unit will be set out in a marking guide supplied by the unit coordinator.
Policies & Procedures: See the policies page of the faculty website at for information regarding university policies and local provisions and procedures within the Faculty of Engineering and Information Technologies.
Recommended Reference/s: Note: References are provided for guidance purposes only. Students are advised to consult these books in the university library. Purchase is not required.

Note that the "Weeks" referred to in this Schedule are those of the official university semester calendar

Week Description
Week 1 Intro to foundation engineering + Soil Characterisation
Week 2 Soil Characterisation
Week 3 Models of soil mechanics
Week 4 Slope stability: Intro
Models of soil mechanics
Week 5 Quiz @ tutorial time. On "soil characterisation and models"
Slope stability: Limit equilibrium
Assessment Due: Quiz
Week 6 Project #1– description
Slope stability: Limit equilibrium
Week 7 Retaining Walls: Intro, Limit equilibrium
Week 8 Retaining Walls: Rankine’s method
Assessment Due: Project #1
Foundations: modes of failure, plus intro to bound theories/solutions
Week 9 Foundation: bound theories/solutions.
Foundations: bound theories/solutions
Week 10 Foundations: general bearing capacity formulations and formulae
Project #2 description
Week 11 Other bearing capacity applications. critical settlements
Week 12 Other bearing capacity applications. critical settlements
Week 13 Foundations: bearing capacity ofpiles
Assessment Due: Project #2
Exam Period Assessment Due: Final Exam

Course Relations

The following is a list of courses which have added this Unit to their structure.

Course Year(s) Offered
Civil (Geotechnical) 2013, 2014, 2015, 2011, 2012
Civil 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
Civil Engineering / Arts 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014
Civil Engineering / Project Management 2012, 2013, 2014
Civil Engineering / Science 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014
Civil (Construction Management) 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
Civil (Environmental) 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
Civil (Structures) 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
Civil / Arts 2015
Civil / Project Management 2015
Civil / Science 2015
Project Engineering and Management (Civil) 2010, 2011, 2012
Project Engineering and Management (Civil) / Science 2011
Flexible First Year (Stream A) / Science 2012
Civil / Commerce 2015
Civil / Design in Architecture 2015
Civil / Medical Science 2015

Course Goals

This unit contributes to the achievement of the following course goals:

Attribute Practiced Assessed
Design (Level 2) Yes 0%
Engineering/IT Specialisation (Level 3) Yes 64%
Maths/Science Methods and Tools (Level 3) Yes 11.5%
Information Seeking (Level 1) No 0%
Communication (Level 2) Yes 24.5%

These goals are selected from Engineering & IT Graduate Outcomes Table which defines overall goals for courses where this unit is primarily offered. See Engineering & IT Graduate Outcomes Table for details of the attributes and levels to be developed in the course as a whole. Percentage figures alongside each course goal provide a rough indication of their relative weighting in assessment for this unit. Note that not all goals are necessarily part of assessment. Some may be more about practice activity. See Learning outcomes for details of what is assessed in relation to each goal and Assessment for details of how the outcome is assessed. See Attributes for details of practice provided for each goal.