Course Title: Forensic Engineering (Structural)

Part A: Course Overview

Course Title: Forensic Engineering (Structural)

Credit Points: 12.00

Course Code




Learning Mode

Teaching Period(s)


City Campus


120H Civil, Environmental & Chemical Engineering


Sem 1 2014,
Sem 1 2015,
Sem 1 2016


City Campus


172H School of Engineering


Sem 1 2017

Course Coordinator: Dr. Saman de Silva

Course Coordinator Phone: +61 3 9925 3235

Course Coordinator Email:

Course Coordinator Location: 10.13.05d

Pre-requisite Courses and Assumed Knowledge and Capabilities

Completion of structural design and analysis courses at undergraduate level program or demonstrated equivalent capability.

Course Description

Using major structural failures as case studies and tools for learning , this course will introduce you to the life cycle of creation and operation of major civil structures with a focus on elements that have the potential to cause a catastrophe. You will be introduced to technical or procedural causes of failure, typical consequences of failure such as injury, functional loss and other issues and application of knowledge acquired from failure analysis in new structural design.

Objectives/Learning Outcomes/Capability Development

This course contributes to the following Program Learning Outcomes for MC207 Master of Engineering (Structures and Forensics):

  • Undertake advanced methods of computational mechanics, analysis, structural optimisation and design
  • Apply the mechanics of materials in post elastic behaviour for reliable structural systems design and resilient response under extreme events
  • Undertake problem-diagnosis and treatment during the structural design and construction phase
  • Identify, diagnose and treat complex problems in relation to whole-of-life reliability and resilient performance during occupancy

On completion of this course you should be able to:

  1. Describe and evaluate the use of structural forensics in creating and maintaining resilient stock of urban civil infrastructure.
  2. Identify common failure modes of structures and classify them according to criticality/risk.
  3. Classify an observed structural failure as a technical or procedural failure or a combination.
  4. Implement a structural design/construction/procurement process with an understanding of key weak elements and methods of addressing the weaknesses.
  5. Investigate failures of structures, reverse engineer the lessons learnt and produce technical notes – simulating a mechanism of confidential reporting of structural safety (CROSS).

Overview of Learning Activities

A modular, blended learning model comprising lecture/workshop sessions, on-line forums and team based activities will be employed in the course.

You will be working on selected case studies applying a systems approach to ascertain the systemic and potential risk of failure of structural systems.

You will engage in on-line forums to share information and participate in case studies.

Total study hours: Lectures and tutorial sessions involve 3 hours/week over 12 weeks. In addition you are expected to spend around 6 hours/week in independent study on revision, additional research and assignments.

Overview of Learning Resources

Lecture notes, references and further reading material will be posted on the course web-site (Blackboard). Any appropriate computer software packages are usually available in the School of Engineering computer laboratories.

RMIT Library Subject Guide:

Overview of Assessment

Note that: ☒This course has no hurdle requirements.

Assessment Task 1:  Confidential Reporting Technical Note

Weighting 20%

This assessment task supports CLO 5.

Assessment Task 2:  Post Failure Investigation Mapping

Weighting 30%

This assessment task supports CLOs 1 to 3.

Assessment Task 3: Major Project (re-engineering existing structures)

Weighting 50%

This assessment task supports CLOs 1 to 5.