1. Handbook
  2. Subjects
  3. Engineering Site Characterisation

Engineering Site Characterisation (CVEN90044)

Graduate courseworkPoints: 12.5On Campus (Parkville)

You’re viewing the 2019 Handbook:
Or view archived Handbooks


Year of offer2019
Subject levelGraduate coursework
Subject codeCVEN90044
Semester 1
FeesSubject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date


Characterisation of sites is an important step in any engineering study or design. In order to devise a design for an engineering project a range of contextual factors need to be determined. These include intrinsic aspects of natural and anthropogenic history, such as geological context and former industrial use as well as it indigenous heritage. Extrinsic impacts on the site such as the risk of flood, fire, and earthquake also need to be well understood. Finally the relationship with the surrounding natural and social environment needs to be characterised to ensure cross boundary effects of the project implementation of post-commissioning use do not cause unpredicted adverse impacts. This subject will examine typical technical tools for characterising a site for infrastructure development, covering a range of the above aspects that are relevant to the site and development. In doing so students will learn the skills and an approach to conduct site assessments, including the ability to select the appropriate geo-environmental tools for site investigations.

This subject is part of a trio of subjects that consider different aspects of infrastructure projects; Engineering Site Characterisation studies how to determine the character of a site for a infrastructure project, Sustainable Infrastructure Engineering examines how the project relates to the broader social, political, economic and environmental context, while Engineering Project Implementation concentrates on the operational aspects of implementing a project. Together they form the basis of further professional infrastructure engineering subjects. Students who have completed this subject will have valuable skills to gain engineering work experience.


Geotechnical site investigations, noise evaluation and mitigation, natural disaster characterisation (fire, wind, earthquakes), introduction to surveying and levelling, in situ testing (soil), geophysical testing and fieldwork, and exposure to laboratory testing (compaction and permeability).

Intended learning outcomes


On completion of this subject the student is expected to:

  1. Conduct a simple topographic survey of a site
  2. Evaluate the soil and geology of the site as it impacts the intended development
  3. Evaluate the relationships of a site and its intended changes with its neighbours
  4. Select the appropriate geo-environmental technical tools for site investigations
  5. Estimate critical design parameters
  6. Identify, assess and document the risk arising from natural disasters
  7. Examine planning requirements
  8. Write a report to communicate key aspects of the character of a site as it affects the design of changes to the site.

Generic skills

  • Ability to apply knowledge of science and engineering fundamentals
  • Understanding of social, cultural, global, and environmental responsibilities and the need to employ principles of sustainable development
  • Ability to utilise a systems approach to complex problems and to design and operational performance
  • Ability to communicate effectively, with the engineering team and with the community at large
  • Ability to manage information and documentation
  • Ability to function effectively as an individual and in multidisciplinary and multicultural teams, as a team leader or manager as well as an effective team member
  • Capacity for lifelong learning and professional development.

Last updated: 22 August 2019