Postgraduate taught 

Civil Engineering MSc

Geotechnical Engineering 4 ENG4070

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Engineering
  • Credits: 10
  • Level: Level 4 (SCQF level 10)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 1
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes

Short Description

The course consists of two distinct topics, which are essential to the application of soil mechanics principles in geotechnical engineering practice, namely: site investigation and deep foundations


2 lectures per week, 1 tutorial per week

Excluded Courses





Examination (70%), Coursework (30%)

Main Assessment In: December

Are reassessment opportunities available for all summative assessments? Not applicable

Reassessments are normally available for all courses, except those which contribute to the Honours classification. For non Honours courses, students are offered reassessment in all or any of the components of assessment if the satisfactory (threshold) grade for the overall course is not achieved at the first attempt. This is normally grade D3 for undergraduate students and grade C3 for postgraduate students. Exceptionally it may not be possible to offer reassessment of some coursework items, in which case the mark achieved at the first attempt will be counted towards the final course grade. Any such exceptions for this course are described below. 

Course Aims

The aims of this course are:

1) to consolidate material taught in basic courses in soil mechanics and geotechnical engineering (e.g. Soil Mechanics 2 and Geotechnical Engineering 3) and which is essential to the further development of geotechnical engineering in this course;

2) to gain insight into site investigation procedures, to develop detailed knowledge of selected topics, and apply learnings to a range of practical problems;

3) to develop understanding of the mechanics and design of piled foundations and to use that knowledge for design purposes.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

At the end of this course students will be able to:

1) list and discuss the phases of a "standard" site investigation describing the resources commonly employed;

2) list the application of drilling and sampling methods and be familiar with soil index testing and the relevance of the results;

3) describe standard laboratory element tests (the triaxial test, the direct shear test and the oedometer test); describe the procedure for and interpret data from standard in situ tests (standard penetration, cone penetration, vane shear and pressuremeter);

4) gain knowledge of the application of a range of pile types, construction/installation methods, and their purposes and the consequent implications for selection/design etc;

5) evaluate the axial capacity of a single vertical pile in the short-term and under long-term conditions;

6) utilise analytical approaches to determine the settlement of a single vertical pile. Be familiar with common static and dynamic pile testing methods; determine the lateral capacity of a single pile considering factors such as restrained and unrestrained loading on short stiff and long flexible piles.

7) design pile groups and determine the vertical capacity of a pile group under individual and block-failure conditions;

8) apply EC7 partial factors in pile design.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Attendance at all tutorials

Submission of all assignments

Attendance at all tests and examinations, gaining a nonzero mark