Course Title: Rock Mechanics

Part A: Course Overview

Course Title: Rock Mechanics

Credit Points: 12.00


Course Code




Learning Mode

Teaching Period(s)


City Campus


120H Civil, Environmental & Chemical Engineering


Sem 1 2007,
Sem 1 2008,
Sem 1 2009,
Sem 1 2010,
Sem 1 2012,
Sem 1 2013,
Sem 1 2014,
Sem 1 2015,


City Campus


172H School of Engineering


Sem 1 2018,
Sem 1 2019

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

The required prior study for this course is:

CIVE1187 Statics

CIVE1178 Geotechnical Engineering 1

Course Description

Rock Mechanics deals with the behaviour of rocks under the influence of loading or unloading. The engineering principles are applied to the design of rock structures, such as tunnels, underground caverns and rock slopes. After an introduction to the engineering properties of rock, as a substance and in mass, the initial part of the course will concentrate on the use of analytical and mathematical tools in describing rock mass properties and stress fields. You will learn rock strength testing, rock mass classification and the application of the principles to rock engineering designs. Specific applications in rock excavation, tunnelling and slope stability assessment will be introduced as projects, class exercises and assignments. The aims of this course are to learn about the mechanical behaviour of rock and rock masses, the engineering properties of rock and techniques for the classification of rock masses and analysis of rock structures. 

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. Critically review rock mechanics principles and methods and their applications to engineering practices.

2. Measure the physical characteristics of rock masses, including the engineering description of rocks, discontinuities and rock mass; the strength of rock substance, defects and rock mass; laboratory testing of rock, data presentation.

3.  Analyse stresses under gravitational and imposed loads for rock engineering applications.

4.  Predict the response of rock masses to loading (and unloading).

5.  Classify rock masses for engineering applications, such as tunnel design and construction.

6. Analyse rock slope stability and foundations on rock.

Overview of Learning Activities

Course content will be elaborated via lectures, tutorials, laboratories and projects.

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 can expect to spend a minimum of four hours per week in independent study and project assignment.

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 individual project assignment and final examination.

Note that: ☒This course has no hurdle requirements.

Assessment Task 1:  Rock point -load testing and reporting

Weighting 10%

This assessment task supports CLOs 1 & 2.

For this assignment you will be required to carry out:

Literature reviews on point-load testing, procedures and interpretation.

Testing on a given rock sample at RMIT Rock laboratory in accordance with the Australian Standard AS4133.4.1-2007.

Reporting on the rock strength characteristics based on visual inspection and the point-load test results.

Assessment Task 2:  Interpretation of Rock Masses for a Tunnelling Project

Weighting 40%

This assessment task supports CLOs 3, 4 & 5.

The objective of this assignment is to use the knowledge and skills that you have acquired from the course to solve engineering problems and provide professional advice in relation to a tunnel design and construction.

A project report will be prepared individually and submitted in accordance with an established format and assessment rubric.

Assessment Task 3: Final closed-book examination

Weighting 50%

This assessment task supports CLOs 1-6.