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Unit information: Applied Soil Mechanics 2 in 2019/20

Please note: Due to alternative arrangements for teaching and assessment in place from 18 March 2020 to mitigate against the restrictions in place due to COVID-19, information shown for 2019/20 may not always be accurate.

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name Applied Soil Mechanics 2
Unit code CENG20007
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2C (weeks 13 - 18)
Teaching Block 4 (weeks 1-24)
Unit director Dr. Diambra
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of Civil Engineering
Faculty Faculty of Engineering


To enable students to gain a sound grasp of the fundamentals of soil material behaviour. To introduce students to some methods of Geotechnical Analysis.

Intended learning outcomes

At the end of the unit the student will be able to

1. Recognise the nature of stress and pore water pressure in soils; state the definition of the principle of effective stress and state its importance; and calculate profiles of total and effective stress beneath horizontal ground for one-dimensional cases.

2. State the definitions of soil phase relationships and soil properties (void ratio, porosity, moisture content, density, etc.); calculate these properties from their inter-relationships.

3. Recall and use simple descriptions of one-dimensional stiffness of soils to estimate deformations of soils. Be able to describe the time dependent effective stress changes in fine-grained soils and calculate short term and long term responses to changes in total stress. .

4. Explain and be able to apply the basic principles of the seepage in both uniform and layered soils, to determine the flow of water around typical geotechnical structures. Be able to calculate and sketch profiles of total head, elevation head and pressure head, pore water pressure and effective stress with seepage.

5. Be able to draw, interpret and use Mohr's circle of stress (total and effective) and stress paths to illustrate and explain soil behaviour.  .

6. Be able to describe procedures and basic concepts of standard laboratory tests. Develop some practical experience of using such test results in geotechnical calculations.   .

7. Be able to describe and derive the concept of failure criteria for soils. Be able to explain the concept of drained and undrained shear strength and the implications for typical geotechnical problems. Be able to predict the pore water pressure generation during undrained loading and the relevant link between drained and undrained shear strength. Be able to discuss and compare the main similarities and differences between the stressstrain behaviour of sands and clays under consolidation and shearing.

8. Be able explain the factors which influence compaction of soils. Be able to interpret standard compaction tests.  Have some knowledge of how earthworks contracts are controlled. 

9. Be able to apply some methods of Geotechnical Analysis to solve simple problems for two-dimensional flow in soils, slope stability and earth retaining structures.

Teaching details

30 hours of Lectures

15 hours of Examples classes

6 hours of laboratory work

Assessment Details

Laboratory work (25%) (ILOs 6,9)

3 hour written exam (75%) (ILOs 1-5,7-9)

Reading and References

Muir Wood D. "Soil mechanics: a one-dimensional introduction". CUP, 2009

Craig RF. "Soil Mechanics". 8th Ed. E & FN Spon, 2012

Scott CR. "An Introduction to Soil Mechanics and Foundations". Applied Science, 1980

Powrie W. “ Soil Mechanics, concepts and applications” 2nd Edition, Spon, 2014