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Geotechnical Engineering (CVEN90050)

Graduate courseworkPoints: 12.5On Campus (Parkville)

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Year of offer2019
Subject levelGraduate coursework
Subject codeCVEN90050
Semester 1
FeesSubject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date


Soil and rock are among the most important civil engineering materials. They form the foundations of all structures, can be rearranged to provide a topography to suit particular needs like embankments for road and railways, can form a structure in its own right when used for levee banks or dam walls, or may need to be removed to allow access such as with tunnels and cuttings. Students completing this unit should understand how to make simplifications to complex soil conditions, how to establish strength/deformation characteristics of the soil and how to apply fundamental geomechanics knowledge learned in earlier units to solve problems involving the stability of an earth mass for these various situations. Graduates from this subject will be able to work under the guidance of a chartered engineer to design and supervise construction of a range of geotechnical structures such as foundations, roads, and retaining walls.

This subject builds directly on knowledge from a range of undergraduate and postgraduate subjects in the areas of mathematics, statistics, earth processes, and fluid mechanics. It also draws on knowledge of sustainability and management to provide context for problems.


Topics covered include a detailed review of pore-water pressures and effective stress, soil strength and compressibility (direct shear and triaxial testing, and others), consolidation, compaction and their applications to geotechnical design in selected areas, rigid and flexible earth retaining structures, reinforced soil walls, pavements, introduction to liquefaction, and introduction to geothermal energy.

Intended learning outcomes


On completion of this subject the student is expected to:

  1. Make simplifications to complex soil conditions
  2. Establish strength/deformation characteristics of soil
  3. Apply fundamental geomechanics knowledge learned in earlier units to solve problems involving the stability of an earth mass.

Generic skills

  • Ability to apply knowledge of basic science and engineering fundamentals
  • Ability to communicate effectively, not only with engineers but also with the community at large
  • Ability to undertake problem identification, formulation and solution
  • Ability to utilise systems approach to design and operational performance
  • Ability to function effectively as an individual in multi-disciplinary and multicultural teams, with the capacity to be a leader or manager as well as an effective team member
  • Expectation of the need to undertake lifelong learning and the capacity to do so
  • Capacity for independent critical thought, rational inquiry and self-directed learning
  • Intellectual curiosity and creativity, including understanding of the philosophical and methodological bases of research activity.

Last updated: 22 August 2019