Course Title: Soil Mechanics

Part A: Course Overview

Course Title: Soil Mechanics

Credit Points: 12.00

Important Information:

Please note that this course may have compulsory in-person attendance requirements for some teaching activities.
To participate in any RMIT course in-person activities or assessment, you will need to comply with RMIT vaccination requirements which are applicable during the duration of the course. This RMIT requirement includes being vaccinated against COVID-19 or holding a valid medical exemption.
Please read this RMIT Enrolment Procedure as it has important information regarding COVID vaccination and your study at RMIT:
Please read the Student website for additional requirements of in-person attendance:

Please check your Canvas course shell closer to when the course starts to see if this course requires mandatory in-person attendance. The delivery method of the course might have to change quickly in response to changes in the local state/national directive regarding in-person course attendance.


Course Code




Learning Mode

Teaching Period(s)


City Campus


130T Vocational Engineering


Sem 1 2010,
Sem 1 2011,
Sem 1 2012,
Sem 1 2013,
Sem 1 2014,
Sem 1 2015,
Sem 2 2015,
Sem 1 2016,
Sem 2 2016


City Campus


174T School of VE Engineering, Health & Science


Sem 1 2018,
Sem 2 2018,
Sem 1 2019,
Sem 2 2019,
Sem 1 2020,
Sem 2 2020,
Sem 1 2021,
Sem 2 2021


City Campus


520T Future Technologies


Sem 1 2022

Course Coordinator: Program Manager

Course Coordinator Phone: +61 3 9925 4468

Course Coordinator Email:

Course Coordinator Location: 57.5.17

Pre-requisite Courses and Assumed Knowledge and Capabilities

Before commencing this course you should have completed course MATH2167– Mathematics 1 or equivalent, or provide evidence of equivalent capabilities.

Course Description

This course aims to provide you with a detailed knowledge of the behaviour of engineering soils through theory classes and laboratory testing.

Objectives/Learning Outcomes/Capability Development

This course contributes to the following Program Learning Outcomes (PLOs):

1.1 Descriptive, formula-based understanding of the underpinning natural and physical sciences and the engineering fundamentals applicable to the practice area.
1.2 Procedural-level understanding of the mathematics, numerical analysis, statistics, and computer and information sciences which underpin the practice area.
1.3 In depth practical knowledge and skills within specialist sub-disciplines of the practice area.
1.5 Knowledge of contextual factors impacting the practice area.

Course Learning Outcomes (CLOs)
Upon successful completion of this course, you should be able to:
1. Identify and classify soils with reference to their characteristics
2. Describe the behaviour and effect of water in soils
3. Examine modes of soil behaviour
4. Calculate and plot soil strength parameters
5. Describe methods of improving soil stability including reference to compaction plant
6. Undertake a variety of laboratory tests on soils
7. Calculate soil properties from test results

Overview of Learning Activities

This unit will be assessed in the classroom and the laboratory environment using holistic assessment based on typical workplace
activities, including:
1. Exams/tests
2. Laboratory work
3. Practical work and/or demonstration
4. Assignment and/or presentation
The format of the test will include theory based knowledge, case studies and scenarios based on typical workplace activities to
support problem-based assessment of ability accurately complete calculations to industry standards.

Activities Teacher-led :
• The origin and the process of soil formations are explained.
• Parameters related with soil are explained.
• Atterberg limits test is explained and demonstrated.
• Sieve analysis test is performed and explained.
• Soil particle density test is demonstrated.
• Compaction test is explained and demonstrated.
• Parameters associated with the compaction test are explained.
• The principles of CBR test are examined.
• The operation of the triaxial and the direct shear tests are examined.
• Parameters related with triaxial and direct shear tests are explained.
• The main groupings of soils are explained.
• Soil stability, soil stabilisation and related parameters are examined.
• Site exploration methods, sampling and testing techniques and equipment are described.
• Relations between soil and structures are described.

Student-based problem-solving :
Participate in individual problem solving activities (completed to industry standard) requiring:
• Calculation of various soil parameters.
• Calculation and completion of test work sheets for sieve analysis, soil particle density, Atterberg limits, compaction and CBR tests.
• Determination of cohesion and angle of internal friction values of soils by using Mohr’s circle.

Lab work
• Observe soil particle density test.
• Observe Rock and Soil classification methods.
• Perform sieve analysis test.
• Perform Atterberg Limits test.
• Perform compaction test (standard/modified).
• Observe CBR test.
• Observe triaxial and direct shear tests.

Overview of Learning Resources

Students will be able to access information and learning materials through myRMIT and may be provided with additional materials in class. List of relevant reference books, resources in the library and accessible Internet sites will be provided where possible. During the course, you will be directed to websites to enhance your knowledge and understanding of difficult concepts.

Overview of Assessment

Assessment Tasks 

There are two types of assessments: theoretical and laboratory assessments. Details of the assessments are as follows:


Assessment 1: Tests  

Weighting towards final grade: 35% 

Assessment 1 assesses the following learning outcomes: 

PLO 1.1, 1.2, 1.5 

CLO 1, 2, 3, 6 ,7 

Assessment 2: Laboratory assessment  

Weighting towards final grade: 30% 

The breakdown of Assessment 2 is given below: 

Assessment 2 addresses the following learning outcomes:  

PLO 1.1, 1.2, 1.5 

CLO 1, 2, 3, 6, 7 
Assessment 3: Final Assessment  

Weighting towards final grade: 35% 

Assessment 3 addresses the following learning outcomes:  

PLO 1.1, 1.2, 1.5 

CLO 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7