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Unit information: Structural Earthquake Engineering in 2020/21

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Unit name Structural Earthquake Engineering
Unit code CENGM0075
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 4 (weeks 1-24)
Unit director Professor. Sextos
Open unit status Not open

Advanced Structural Analysis (CENG30010) or equivalent, and Design of Geotechnical Structures (CENG30005) or equivalent



School/department Department of Civil Engineering
Faculty Faculty of Engineering


This unit will provide a grounding in the basic principles and practices of Earthquake Engineering in structural engineering. The emphasis will be on understanding how seismic loads affect typical building and other kinds of structures, how the various materials respond up to the ultimate limit state (i.e. collapse), and how the structures shall be designed to meet pre-defined performance objectives.

Within the context of structural earthquake engineering, background theory for experimental design, vibration monitoring methods, instrumentation and basic data processing will be provided.

The unit will enable students to understand the basic principles behind structural vibration and structural element testing and be able to conceptually develop the setup of experiments, collect, analyse and interpret the data.

The content will be set within the context of the European Code of Practice for Earthquake Engineering, Eurocode 8 and the associated Eurocodes for Steel and Concrete. Reference will also be made to the newly evolving Performance Based Engineering paradigm, which is the basis for the next generation of design codes.


  • To develop students' awareness of the nature of earthquakes and their effects on typical civil engineering systems;
  • To develop students' knowledge and understanding of the underpinning principles of earthquake design and construction;
  • To enable students to apply the above principles to the basic earthquake design and detailing of some typical structural systems, with emphasis on buildings;
  • To develop students' awareness of important evolutions in earthquake engineering practice expected over the next 10 years.
  • To develop student awareness of the basic principles of set up of experiments related to performance assessment of structures.

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of the course, the students will be able to:

1. Be able to explain the main methods for characterizing seismic hazard

2. Be able to explain how ground shaking drives the dynamic response of single and multi-degree of freedom systems and how the characteristics of those systems (i.e. mass, stiffness, damping, yielding ,etc.) can be selected during design to optimize their performance for different levels of earthquake loading

3. Understand the philosophy and evolution of current codes of practice (particularly Eurocode 8, in terms of force-based, capacity- and performance-based design)

4. Be able to apply the above concepts in a professional framework for typical steel and concrete buildings and bridges

5. Understand the fundamental seismic analysis concepts

6. Understand the fundamental design concepts of modern seismic codes

7. Design buildings to Eurocode 8 (Part 1)

8. Use the concepts taught in an international environment and successfully adapt Eurocode 8 to the legislative framework of different countries

9. Be able to design simple experimental tests using appropriate scaling laws

10. Understand the types of instrumentation, signal conditioning and acquisition systems available to researchers

11. Be able to do basic data processing of vibration data collected from structures

12. Understand and be able to apply methods for ambient and forced vibration testing of structures

13. Learn how to do hammer tests and analyse the data

14. Understand the principles behind shaking table testing

15. Understand the seismic qualification test process and have an awareness of a number testing specifications

Teaching details

Teaching will be delivered through a combination of synchronous and asynchronous sessions, including lectures, practical activities supported by drop-in sessions, problem sheets and self-directed exercises.

Assessment Details

Single coursework submission – 100%

Reading and References

Avramidis, I.E., Athanatopoulou, A.M., Morfidis, K., Sextos, A.G., Giaralis, A., 2015. Eurocode-Compliant Seismic Analysis and Design of R / C Buildings. Springer, Netherlands.

CEN, 2004. European Standard EN 1998-1. Eurocode 8: Design of structures for earthquake resistance, Part 1: General rules, seismic actions and rules for buildings”, Committee for Standardisation (Book), Design. European Committee for Standardization, Brussels, Belgium.

Chopra, A.K., 2014. Dynamics of structures—Theory and applications to earthquake engineering. Pearson.

Elghazouli, A., 2009. Seismic design of buildings to Eurocode 8, Buildings. Spon Press, New York, NY, USA.

Fardis, M.N., 2009. Seismic Design, Assessment and Retrofit of Concrete Buildings, based on Eurocode 8. Springer, Netherlands.

Structural Modeling and Experimental Techniques, Second Edition. Harry G. Harris, Gajanan Sabnis. 1999.

CRC Press. // 9780849324697