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CIVL2410: Soil Mechanics (2014 - Semester 2)

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Unit: CIVL2410: Soil Mechanics (6 CP)
Mode: Normal-Day
On Offer: Yes
Level: Intermediate
Faculty/School: Civil Engineering
Unit Coordinator/s: Prof Airey, David
Session options: Semester 2
Versions for this Unit:
Campus: Camperdown/Darlington
Pre-Requisites: None.
Brief Handbook Description: This course provides an elementary introduction to Geotechnical Engineering, and provides the basic mechanics necessary for the detailed study of Geotechnical Engineering. This course aims to provide an understanding of: the nature of soils as engineering materials; common soil classification schemes; the importance of water in the soil and the effects of water movement; methods of predicting soil settlements, the stress-strain-strength response of soils, and earth pressures.
Assumed Knowledge: CIVL2201 AND GEOL1501. An understanding of simple statics, equilibrium, forces and bending moments, and of stress and strain and the relationship between them. This is covered by University of Sydney courses ENGG 1802 Engineering Mechanics, CIVL2201 Structural Mechanics. Familiarity with the use of spreadsheets (Excel, Mathcad) to obtain solutions to engineering problems, and with the graphical presentation of this data. Familiarity with word processing packages for report presentation. Some of this is covered in the University of Sydney course ENGG1801 Engineering Computing. Familiarity with partial differential equations, and their analytical and numerical solution.
Lecturer/s: Prof Airey, David
Timetable: CIVL2410 Timetable
Time Commitment:
# Activity Name Hours per Week Sessions per Week Weeks per Semester
1 Independent Study 4.00 13
2 Lecture 3.00 2 13
3 Tutorial 1.00 1 12
4 Laboratory 2.00 1 5
T&L Activities: Lecture: Mon 9-10am, Thurs 9-11am

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
An understanding of the engineering behaviour of the ground and the interaction between the ground and any structures built in or on the ground is essential for all Civil Engineers Engineering/IT Specialisation (Level 2)
This course develops the fundamental knowledge of stress and strain Maths/Science Methods and Tools (Level 2)
Developing skills of experimentation and analysis of experimental data. Developing use of spreadsheets for data analysis and reporting. Information Seeking (Level 2)
Laboratory reports require the ability to communicate effectively, clearly and concisely in writing for technical readers. 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.

Design (Level 1)
1. Use a spreadsheet to analyse a geotechnical design problem
Engineering/IT Specialisation (Level 2)
2. Give an engineering classification of any piece of soil, and on this basis predict how it will perform as an engineering material
3. Calculate the settlements, and rates of settlement, under structures of various shapes and sizes
4. Explain the advantages and limitations of the different methods of settlement calculation
5. Determine the strength parameters appropriate to a range of stability problems, and understand the difference between total and effective stress approaches
Maths/Science Methods and Tools (Level 2)
6. Understand the principle of effective stress, and be able to apply this to calculate the stresses causing soil deformation
7. Calculate quantities of water flowing through the ground, and understand the effects that water flow has on the soil
Information Seeking (Level 2)
8. Proficiency in handling experimental data, including strength parameters.
Communication (Level 2)
9. To report the results of a laboratory experiment at a professional standard
Assessment Methods:
# Name Group Weight Due Week Outcomes
1 Assignment Yes 9.00 Week 9 (Friday, 5 pm) 1, 3,
2 Assignment No 9.00 Week 11 (Monday, 9 am) 1, 3,
3 Lab Report No 10.00 Multiple Weeks 9,
4 Quiz No 12.00 Multiple Weeks 3, 5, 6, 8,
5 Final Exam No 60.00 Exam Period 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8,
Assessment Description: Assignment: Computer assignment is designed to reinforce theoretical concepts and develop the students` skills in the use of Excel.

Lab Report: Students submit one lab report on one out of their 5 sessions, one week after the session. Lab reports will address student development in their presentation and analysis skills. Students are expected to present a professional documentation of their experiments and analysis associated with the concepts learned within this UoS.

Final Exam: The examination at the end of the semester will measure students’ understanding of the concepts covered during the semester within this UoS.

Weighted 70% for repeating students who are exempt from laboratories

Quiz: Tutorial exercises are used to assess the student understanding of key concepts. Short formative assessments will be used each week. On three occasions these will be marked to encourage students to work consistently through the semester.
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 Introduction, Classification
Week 2 Definitions, Compaction
Week 3 Effective Stress, Water in soil
Week 4 Flow Nets
Week 5 Flow Nets
Week 6 1-D compression, 1-D settlement
Week 7 1-D settlement, Consolidation
Week 8 Consolidation, 3-D settlement
Week 9 3-D settlement, rate of settlement
Assessment Due: Assignment
Week 10 Soil strength
Week 11 Stress-strain response
Assessment Due: Assignment
Week 12 Earth pressures
Week 13 Earth pressures, Revision
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 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
Civil Engineering / Arts 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014
Civil Engineering / Commerce 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014
Civil Engineering / Design in Architecture 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014
Civil Engineering / Medical Science 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 (Geotechnical) 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
Civil Engineering / Law 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014
Civil (Structures) 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
Civil / Arts 2015
Civil / Commerce 2015
Civil / Design in Architecture 2015
Civil / Medical Science 2015
Civil / Project Management 2015
Civil / Science 2015
Project Engineering and Management (Civil) 2010, 2011, 2012
Project Engineering and Management (Civil) / Arts 2011
Project Engineering and Management (Civil) / Commerce 2010, 2011
Project Engineering and Management (Civil) / Science 2011
Bachelor of Project Management (Civil Engineering Science) 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015

Course Goals

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

Attribute Practiced Assessed
Design (Level 1) No 9%
Engineering/IT Specialisation (Level 2) Yes 49.3%
Maths/Science Methods and Tools (Level 2) Yes 20.15%
Information Seeking (Level 2) Yes 11.57%
Communication (Level 2) Yes 10%

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.