Course Title: Geotechnical Engineering 1

Part A: Course Overview

Course Title: Geotechnical Engineering 1

Credit Points: 12.00

Course Code




Learning Mode

Teaching Period(s)


City Campus


120H Civil, Environmental & Chemical Engineering


Sem 2 2006,
Sem 2 2007,
Sem 2 2008,
Sem 2 2009,
Sem 2 2010,
Sem 2 2012,
Sem 2 2013,
Sem 2 2015,
Sem 1 2016,
Sem 2 2016

Course Coordinator: Dr Gang Ren

Course Coordinator Phone: +61 3 9925 2409

Course Coordinator Email:

Course Coordinator Location: 12.12.06

Pre-requisite Courses and Assumed Knowledge and Capabilities

CIVE1187 Statics


Course Description

Geotechnical engineering deals with the behaviour of soils under the influence of loading from structures. It is one of the most important branches of civil engineering. It uses the concepts of soil and rock mechanics to model real world engineering problems, aided by empirical observations and a systematic classification of soil materials which seeks to correlate classification and physical properties with engineering behaviour. This course serves as an introduction to geotechnical engineering and covers basic concepts and terminology.  It is a prerequisite course for the subsequent Geotechnical Engineering 2 (CIVE1108) and Geotechnical Engineering 3 (CIVE1159).

This course is a designated Work Integrated Learning (WIL) course within the BH077 program.  It includes a WIL experience in which your knowledge and skills will be applied and assessed in a real or simulated workplace context and where feedback from industry and/or community is integral to your experience.


Objectives/Learning Outcomes/Capability Development

This course contributes to the following Program Learning Outcomes for BH077, Bachelor of Engineering, Civil and Infrastructure, (Honours):

1.3 In depth understanding of specialist bodies of knowledge within the engineering discipline.

1.6 Understanding of the scope, principles, norms, accountabilities and bounds of contemporary engineering practice in the specific discipline.

2.1 Application of established engineering methods to complex engineering problem solving.

2.2 Fluent application of engineering techniques, tools and resources.

On completion of this course you should be able to:

1. Define geotechnical engineering, determine soil physical characteristics (including unit weight / density - water content relationship), classify soils and describe field compaction methods and related quality control.

2. Determine the coefficient of permeability and equivalent hydraulic conductivity in stratified soil (according to established scientific principles for the flow of water through saturated soils) and calculate seepage, pore water pressure distribution, uplift forces and seepage stresses for simple geotechnical systems.

3. Describe the purposes and different phases of a soil investigation, soil exploration program, soil exploration methods and soil identification in the field.

 4. Discuss the concept of effective stress and determine stress distribution within a soil mass.

5. Explain the ‘shear strength’ of soil, describe the direct shear test method and interpret direct shear test results.

6. Calculate the bearing capacity of shallow foundations and factor of safety.

Overview of Learning Activities

You will learn this course through lectures, tutorials and laboratory demonstrations.

The course is supported by the Blackboard learning management system.

Total study hours: You will undertake the equivalent of four hours per week in face to face lectures and tutorials. In addition you should expect to spend a minimum of four hours per week in independent study.

Overview of Learning Resources

Prescribed text, recommended references, available computer and simulation programs and Geomechanics Laboratory resources are used in this course. Online resources will be made available through myRMIT.

RMIT Library Subject Guide: 

Overview of Assessment

Assessment will be based on the following individual test and examinations:

Note that: ☒This course has no hurdle requirements.

Assessment Task 1: Mid-semester test

Weighting 40% (closed book test)

This assessment task supports CLOs 1, 3 & 4

Assessment Task 2: Mini-test

Weighting 10% (open book quiz carried out in tutorial classes)

This assessment task supports CLOs 2, & 5

Assessment Task 3: Final Examination

Weighting 50% (closed book final examination)

This assessment task supports CLOs 1-6