Postgraduate taught 

Civil Engineering MSc

Geotechnical Engineering 4 ENG4070

  • Academic Session: 2022-23
  • 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 three distinct topics, which are essential to the application of soil mechanics principles in geotechnical engineering practice, namely: Ground Improvement, Deep Foundations and Site Investigation.


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 Soil Mechanics 3 and Geotechnical Engineering. 3 and which is essential to the further development of the subject in this course;

2) to describe the wide range of methods which are used in practice to improve the engineering properties of soils;

3) to develop understanding of the mechanics of piled foundations in soft soils and to use that knowledge for design purposes;

4) to gain insight into the purposes, scope and conduct of site investigation procedures.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

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

1) list and discuss the purposes of ground improvement and the factors which govern the choice of one technique in preference to another;

2) list and describe techniques for ground improvement;

3) provide illustrative examples of GI applications;

4) discuss the purpose, advantages and dis-benefits of various GI techniques;

5) identify the likely ground problems and discuss the means by which these problems could be overcome when given a geotechnical scenario;

6) check the design of a reinforced earth wall to sustain a given height of fill and, given external loads, consider both external stability conditions and internal stability conditions;

7) compare and contrast soil nailing with soil reinforcement;

8) list and discuss the range of pile types, installation methods, and their purposes and the consequent implications for pile selection/design etc;

9) determine the axial capacity of a single vertical pile in cohesive soils under undrained conditions and in the long-term, establishing the relevant ground parameters in each case.

10) determine the settlement of a single pile, taking into account rigidity and variable soil profiles;

11) determine the settlement/rotation of : - a pile group given the pile loads,- a pile group given the group load and the "rigid cap" condition, - a pile group given the group moment and the "rigid cap" condition,(exploiting appropriate symmetry conditions) using the "interaction factor" method;

12) determine the vertical capacity of a pile group under block-failure conditions and hence determine pile-group efficiency;

13) determine the lateral capacity of a single pile, for free-head and fixed-head conditions; establishing the relevant ground parameters and identifying whether the pile is 'long' or otherwise;

14) determine the pile head rotations and deflections of laterally loaded piles;

15) list and discuss the objectives of a "standard" site investigation; a "desk study" and a "walk-over" study, describing the resources commonly employed in each case and their use;

16) describe the philosophy of the "observational method";

17) list and describe the common insitu soil testing techniques and their purpose.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Attendance at all tutorials

Submission of all assignments

Attendance at all tests and examinations, gaining a nonzero mark