Course Title: Unsaturated Soils and Advanced Laboratory Testing

Part A: Course Overview

Course Title: Unsaturated Soils and Advanced Laboratory Testing

Credit Points: 12.00

Important Information:

The title of this course changed from "Engineering Geology and Advanced Laboratory Testing" to "Unsaturated Soils and Advanced Laboratory Testing" in 2022.



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


120H Civil, Environmental & Chemical Engineering


Sem 2 2016


City Campus


172H School of Engineering


Sem 2 2017,
Sem 2 2018,
Sem 2 2019,
Sem 2 2020,
Sem 2 2022

Course Coordinator: Associate Professor Annan Zhou

Course Coordinator Phone: +61 3 9925 0407

Course Coordinator Email:

Course Coordinator Location: 10.13.12

Pre-requisite Courses and Assumed Knowledge and Capabilities


Course Description

The course covers fundamental understanding of theoretical and applied unsaturated soil mechanics and advanced testing methods for unsaturated soils. By treating saturated soil as a special case of unsaturated soil, topics cover will include effective stress principle and its applicability, state variables, matric and osmotic suctions, soil-water retention, shear strength, and deformation analysis for both saturated soils and unsaturated soils.

Both theoretical analysis and laboratory testing techniques for both saturated and unsaturated soil will be covered. This course will extend your knowledge of soil mechanics and geotechnical testing/analysis from saturated cases to unsaturated cases. The students will work individually to apply this knowledge to tests/assignments/reports.

Objectives/Learning Outcomes/Capability Development

This course contributes to development of the following program learning outcomes for MC257 Master of Engineering (Civil Engineering):

  1. Needs, Context and Systems
    • Exposit legal, social, economic, ethical and environmental interests, values, requirements and expectations of key stakeholders
  2. Analysis
    • Comprehend and apply advanced theory-based understanding of engineering fundamentals and specialist bodies of knowledge in the selected discipline area to predict the effect of engineering activities
  3. Professional Practice
    • Initiate, plan, lead or manage engineering activities
    • Understand the scope, principles, norms, accountabilities and bounds of contemporary engineering practice in the specific discipline

On completion of this course you should be able to:

  1. Understand soil suction and how soil suction affect the safety and deformation of geotechnical structures
  2. Understand how to conduct advanced geotechnical lab tests to determine material parameters for saturated and unsaturated soils
  3. Analysis strength and deformation of saturated and unsaturated soils by using advanced soil models

Overview of Learning Activities

A modular, blended learning model comprising pre-recorded lectures, tutorials, workshop sessions, group discussions, and presentations will be employed in this course.


Overview of Learning Resources

Course-related resources will be provided on Canvas, which is accessed through myRMIT. This can include lecture material, case studies, supplementary course notes, problem sheets and solutions, practice exams, quiz questions and references.

Subject Guides are available from the RMIT Library:

Overview of Assessment

Assessment will be based on both individual and collaborative performance of requisite assessment tasks namely the building design project, online quiz and concrete lab report.

This course has no hurdle requirements.

Assessment Tasks

Assessment Task 1: Project 1
Weighting 30%
This assessment task supports CLOs 1-3.

Assessment Task 2: Project 2
Weighting 30%
This assessment task supports CLOs 1-3.

Assessment Task 3: Final Assessment
Weighting 40%
This assessment task supports CLOs 1-3.