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CIVL6452: Foundation Engineering (2018 - Semester 1)

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Unit: CIVL6452: Foundation Engineering (6 CP)
Mode: Normal-Day
On Offer: Yes
Level: Postgraduate
Faculty/School: Civil Engineering
Unit Coordinator/s: Prof Airey, David
Session options: Semester 1
Versions for this Unit:
Campus: Camperdown/Darlington
Pre-Requisites: None.
Prohibitions: CIVL5452.
Brief Handbook Description: The objectives of this unit are to gain an understanding of the design process in foundation engineering, to understand the importance of site investigation and field testing, and to learn how to deal with uncertainty. To achieve these objectives students are asked to design foundations using real data. Students will develop the ability to interpret the results of a site investigation; to use laboratory and field data to design simple foundations; develop an appreciation of the interaction between the soil, foundation system and the supported structure. The syllabus is comprised of field testing, site characterisation, interpretation of field data, design pof pile raft and surface footings, support of excavations, soil improvement, and geotechnical report writing.
Assumed Knowledge: CIVL2410 AND CIVL3411. Students are assumed to have a good knowledge of fundamental soil mechanics, which is covered in the courses of soil mechanics (settlement, water flow, soil strength) and foundation engineering (soil models, stability analyses; slope stability; retaining walls; foundation capacity)
Timetable: CIVL6452 Timetable
Time Commitment:
# Activity Name Hours per Week Sessions per Week Weeks per Semester
1 Project Work - in class 3.00 1 1
2 Lecture 2.00 1 12
3 Independent Study 5.00 1 12
4 Tutorial 2.00 1 12
T&L Activities: Lecture: Lectures will be given to provide background information, new concepts, and theoretical and analytical approaches to foundation problems.

Project Work - own time: Project will require work outside class time to complete.

Tutorial: Tutorial exercises will be conducted throughout the semester, to develop analytical skills in foundation design and to provide indication of exam questions

Independent Study: Study of course material to enable assignments to be completed and concepts understood

Attributes listed here represent the key course goals (see Course Map tab) designated for this unit. The list below describes how these attributes are developed through practice in the unit. See Learning Outcomes and Assessment tabs for details of how these attributes are assessed.

Attribute Development Method Attribute Developed
Students have to work from basic soil log data and finally design a foundation. As the data is messy the need to develop judgement and problem solving skills is required. There is no single solution to the design problem. Design (Level 4)
Current methods of design used in industry are taught, and students use current computer programs to perform analysis and design Engineering/IT Specialisation (Level 4)
A thorough knowledge of the theories and concepts of soil mechanics, and how these are applied in practice is required in this unit Maths/Science Methods and Tools (Level 4)
Students are required to write a professional engineering report for an imaginary client. Communication (Level 4)
Students work in teams to solve the design problems. Project and Team Skills (Level 3)

For explanation of attributes and levels see Engineering & IT Graduate Outcomes Table 2018.

Learning outcomes are the key abilities and knowledge that will be assessed in this unit. They are listed according to the course goal supported by each. See Assessment Tab for details how each outcome is assessed.

Design (Level 4)
1. Creative application of theories of soil mechanics to Foundation design. In particular, the ability to deal with parameter variability and uncertainty that arises with real problems.
Engineering/IT Specialisation (Level 4)
2. Ability to design foundations (shallow, piled, piled raft) and retaining wall systems
3. Ability to interpret borehole log data to determine soil parameters and develop a geotechnical model
Maths/Science Methods and Tools (Level 4)
4. Understanding of basic principles of soil mechanics, and of the limitations of these theories
Communication (Level 4)
5. Ability to write a geotechnical report
Assessment Methods:
# Name Group Weight Due Week Outcomes
1 Quiz No 20.00 Week 8 2, 3, 4,
2 Quiz 2 No 20.00 Week 13 2, 3, 4,
3 Site Investigation Report Yes 20.00 Week 5 1, 3, 5,
4 Foundation Design Yes 20.00 Week 9 1, 2, 3, 4,
5 Retaining Wall design Yes 20.00 Week 11 1, 2, 3, 4,
6 Project Yes 0.00 Week 13 1, 2, 3, 4, 5,
Assessment Description: Two Quizzes to test individual understanding of soil mechanics theories and concepts applied to foundation design

Three assignments to demonstrate design and problem solving skills and reporting. These will cover development of a geotechnical model from site investigation data and designs for foundation and retaining walls.

The Final Design Project is an additional opportunity to demonstrate and earn marks for creatively applying the skills you have developed over the Foundation Engineering course: thinking about time, cost and risk issues associated with parameter variability and uncertainty that arise with real problems, communicating these to the client, and teamwork.
Grade Type Description
Standards Based Assessment Final grades in this unit are awarded at levels of HD for High Distinction, DI (previously D) for Distinction, CR for Credit, PS (previously P) for Pass and FA (previously F) for Fail as defined by University of Sydney Assessment Policy. Details of the Assessment Policy are available on the Policies website at . Standards for grades in individual assessment tasks and the summative method for obtaining a final mark in the unit will be set out in a marking guide supplied by the unit coordinator.
Policies & Procedures: See the policies page of the faculty website at for information regarding university policies and local provisions and procedures within the Faculty of Engineering and Information Technologies.
Recommended Reference/s: Note: References are provided for guidance purposes only. Students are advised to consult these books in the university library. Purchase is not required.
  • Foundation Design and Construction
  • Foundation Engineering
  • Pile Foundation Analysis and Design
  • Piling Engineering
  • Principles of Foundation Engineering

Note that the "Weeks" referred to in this Schedule are those of the official university semester calendar

Week Description
Week 1 Site investigation
Week 2 Soil and rock properties, Developing a geotechnical model
Week 3 Shallow foundations - bearing capacity and settlement
Week 4 Pile raft foundations and analysis, Design codes
Week 5 Axial pile capacity and settlement analysis
Assessment Due: Site Investigation Report
Week 6 Laterally loaded piles and pile group analysis
Week 7 Slope instability, stabilisation and risk assessment
Week 8 Retaining structures and gravity wall design
Assessment Due: Quiz
Week 9 Embedded wall design, excavation induced movements and risk management
Assessment Due: Foundation Design
Week 10 Earthworks and problematic soils
Week 11 Soft ground characterisation, behaviour and improvement
Assessment Due: Retaining Wall design
Week 12 Ground improvement
Week 13 Design Project
Assessment Due: Quiz 2
Assessment Due: Project
STUVAC (Week 14) This week is free for independent study
Exam Period Final exam

Course Relations

The following is a list of courses which have added this Unit to their structure.

Course Year(s) Offered
Master of Engineering (2024 and earlier) 2016, 2017, 2018
Master of Professional Engineering (Civil) 2016

Course Goals

This unit contributes to the achievement of the following course goals:

Attribute Practiced Assessed
Design (Level 4) Yes 15%
Engineering/IT Specialisation (Level 4) Yes 56.66%
Maths/Science Methods and Tools (Level 4) Yes 23.33%
Communication (Level 4) Yes 5%
Professional Conduct (Level 3) No 0%
Project and Team Skills (Level 3) Yes 0%

These goals are selected from Engineering & IT Graduate Outcomes Table 2018 which defines overall goals for courses where this unit is primarily offered. See Engineering & IT Graduate Outcomes Table 2018 for details of the attributes and levels to be developed in the course as a whole. Percentage figures alongside each course goal provide a rough indication of their relative weighting in assessment for this unit. Note that not all goals are necessarily part of assessment. Some may be more about practice activity. See Learning outcomes for details of what is assessed in relation to each goal and Assessment for details of how the outcome is assessed. See Attributes for details of practice provided for each goal.