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


City Campus


172H School of Engineering


Sem 2 2019,
Sem 2 2020,
Sem 2 2021,
Sem 2 2022,
Sem 2 2023

Course Coordinator: A/Professor Gang Ren

Course Coordinator Phone: +61 3 9925 2409

Course Coordinator Email:

Course Coordinator Location: 10.12.27

Course Coordinator Availability: by appointment

Pre-requisite Courses and Assumed Knowledge and Capabilities

Required Prior Study
You should have satisfactorily completed CIVE1265 Introduction to Civil & Infrastructure Engineering before you commence this course.

Alternatively, you may be able to demonstrate the required skills and knowledge before you start this course.  

Contact your course coordinator if you think you may be eligible for recognition of prior learning.

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 (PLOs) for:
BH077P23 Bachelor of Engineering (Civil Engineering) (Honours)
BH080P23 Bachelor of Engineering (Environmental Engineering) (Honours)
BH088CIH23 Bachelor of Engineering (Civil and Infrastructure) (Engineering) (Honours) / Bachelor of Business

PLO 1: Demonstrate an in-depth understanding and knowledge of fundamental engineering and scientific theories, principles and concepts and apply advanced technical knowledge in specialist domain of engineering.
PLO 2: Utilise mathematics and engineering fundamentals, software, tools and techniques to design engineering systems for complex engineering challenges.
PLO 4: Apply systematic problem solving, design methods and information and project management to propose and implement creative and sustainable solutions with intellectual independence and cultural sensitivity. 
PLO 6: Develop and demonstrate the capacity for autonomy, agility and reflection of own learning, career and professional development and conduct.

This course contributes to the following Program Learning Outcomes (PLOs) for: 
BH076 Bachelor of Engineering (Sustainable Systems Engineering) (Honours)
BH077 Bachelor of Engineering (Civil and Infrastructure)(Honours)
BH080 Bachelor of Engineering (Environmental Engineering)(Honours)
BH088CIHDD Bachelor of Engineering (Civil and Infrastructure)(Honours) / Bachelor of Business (Management)
BH092SSHDD Bachelor of Engineering (Sustainable Systems Engineering) (Honours) / Bachelor of Business (Management)
BH100SSHDD Bachelor of Engineering (Sustainable Systems Eng) (Honours) / Bachelor of Industrial Design (Honours)

1 Knowledge and Skill Base
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 Engineering Application Ability
2.1 Application of established engineering methods to complex engineering problem solving.
2.2 Fluent application of engineering techniques, tools and resources.

For more information on the program learning outcomes for your program, please see the program guide.  

Upon successful completion of this course, you will 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. Describe soil and common rock formations and weathering process;
  3. 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;
  4. Describe the purposes and different phases of a soil investigation, soil exploration program, soil exploration methods and soil identification in the field. Describe geophysical principles and relate them to survey of geological materials;
  5. Discuss the concept of effective stress and determine stress distribution within a soil mass;
  6. Explain the ‘shear strength’ of soil, describe the direct shear test method and interpret direct shear test results.

Overview of Learning Activities

You will be actively engaged in a range of learning activities such as pre-recorded lecture videos, tutorials, laboratory demonstrations, class discussion, individual and group activities. Delivery may be face to face, online or a mix of both.  

Pre-recorded lecture videos will involve the discussion of theory on various topics of geotechnical engineering. You will learn to apply theoretical knowledge to problem solving in geotechnical engineering practice.

You are encouraged to be proactive and self-directed in your learning, asking questions of your lecturer and/or peers and seeking out information as required, especially from the numerous sources available through the RMIT library, and through links and material specific to this course that is available through myRMIT Studies Course

Total study hours: You will undertake the equivalent of 65 hours per semester in viewing lecture videos, tutorials and demonstrations. In addition you can expect to spend the same amount of hours in independent study.

Overview of Learning Resources

RMIT will provide you with resources and tools for learning in this course through myRMIT Studies Course

There are services available to support your learning through the University Library. The Library provides guides on academic referencing and subject specialist help as well as a range of study support services. For further information, please visit the Library page on the RMIT University website and the myRMIT student portal

Overview of Assessment

Note that: This course has no hurdle requirements

Assessment Tasks

Assessment Task 1: Timed Practical Assessments
Weighting 35% (Open book assessment)
This assessment task supports CLOs 1, 3 & 4.

Assessment Task 2 in Week 10: Online Quizzes
Weighting 20% (open book quiz online)
This assessment task supports CLOs 2, & 5.

Assessment Task 3: Take-home Assignment
Weighting 45% (A major assignment covering all topics)
This assessment task supports CLOs 1 - 6. 

If you have a long-term medical condition and/or disability it may be possible to negotiate to vary aspects of the learning or assessment methods. You can contact the program coordinator or Equitable Learning Services if you would like to find out more.