Civil Engineering BEng/MEng

Geotechnical Engineering 3 ENG3073

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Engineering
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 3 (SCQF level 9)
  • Typically Offered: Runs Throughout Semesters 1 and 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes

Short Description

This course aims to develop the theoretical and practical skills required for geotechnical design. Building on the material presented in Soil Mechanics 2, the fundamental compression and strength behaviour of soils is introduced.  This is then developed into methods of analysis and design using EC7 for common geotechnical problems, such as shallow foundations, retaining walls and the stability of slopes.


Two lectures per week

Excluded Courses





60% Written Exam in Semester 2

40% Written assignment: 2 assignments (1 in Semester 1 and the other in Semester 2, each worth 20%)

Main Assessment In: April/May

Course Aims

The aims of this course are to:

■ develop a knowledge of the fundamental behaviour of soils, particularly regarding compressibility and shear strength;

■ develop an awareness of the simplifications used in soil mechanics theory and the consequences for analysis and design;

■ introduce the basics of critical state soil mechanics;

■ introduce basic geotechnical analysis and design techniques for earth-retaining structures, shallow foundations and slope stability;

■ introduce the concept of partial factors in geotechnical design and apply Eurocode 7 factors in geotechnical design;

■ develop a general awareness of i) the effect of climate change on the stability of natural and man-made slopes, and on retaining structures, and ii) the approaches that are needed to ensure the climate change adaptation of existing and new-built geo-structures.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

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

■ evaluate in-situ stresses and describe basic stress-strain relationships in soils;

■ evaluate shallow foundation settlement using elastic solutions and consolidation theory;

■ explore sustainable methods for reducing the differential settlement of foundations;

■ explain shear failure in soils using the Mohr-Coulomb criterion;

■ assess and explain triaxial test results for sands and clays under drained and undrained loading conditions;

■ interpret the soil behaviour using the critical state soil mechanics;

■ evaluate lateral earth pressure based on plasticity theory, using Rankine and Coulomb theories;

■ apply Eurocode 7 partial factors in geotechnical design;

■ assess the stability of slopes (vertical cuts, rotational and translational slides) and how it is affected by environmental conditions;

■ understand the impact of climate change on slope stability and sustainable methods for slope stabilization;

■ analyse and design simple retaining structures (gravity walls, embedded walls) and shallow foundations.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must attend the degree examination and submit at least 75% by weight of the other components of the course's summative assessment.