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CIVL6456: Energy Geotechnics (2020 - Semester 2)

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Unit: CIVL6456: Energy Geotechnics (6 CP)
Mode: Normal-Day
On Offer: Yes
Level: Postgraduate
Faculty/School: School of Civil Engineering
Unit Coordinator/s: Dr Gan, Yixiang
Session options: Semester 2
Versions for this Unit:
Campus: Camperdown/Darlington
Pre-Requisites: None.
Brief Handbook Description: This is an advanced course on geotechnical engineering. The Unit of Study will focus on the design and analyses of geotechnical applications related to energy and sustainability. This course covers essential geotechnical design concepts related to some of the current and emerging energy projects, starting from the governing mechanisms controlling heat and mass transfer, to designing geothermal foundations and geological storage facilities, as examples. Other energy geotechnical problems include the design and analyses of offshore foundations for oil and gas platforms, which must sustain unique and harsh loading conditions, and carbon geosequestration facilities subjected to high temperatures, pressures and hydrological conditions.

The course concerns with the constitutive behaviour of soils, including stress, strain, heat and mass transfer, and the application of this knowledge in practical engineering problems. Theme topics related with these materials will be discussed with specific emphases on the areas of energy and environmental engineering. This course aims to develop theoretical and numerical skills for students interested in structural and geotechnical engineering.
Assumed Knowledge: [CIVL2410 OR CIVL9410] AND [CIVL3411 OR CIVL9411].
Lecturer/s: Dr Gan, Yixiang
Timetable: CIVL6456 Timetable
Time Commitment:
# Activity Name Hours per Week Sessions per Week Weeks per Semester
1 Lecture 2.00 1 13
2 Tutorial 1.00 1 13
3 Independent Study 6.00 1 13
T&L Activities: The course will contain the following aspects:

• Lectures: providing background information, concepts, and theoretical and analytical approaches in geotechnical topics related to energy and sustainability.

• Tutorials: developing analytical and computational problem-solving skills through a range of practical examples.

• Laboratory works: for students to experiment the thermo-hydro-mechanical properties of soils and critically assess the predictions of existing engineering models against the experimental results.

• Group projects: developing student’s collaborative and co-operative skills and ability to design optimal engineering solutions on complex practical situations.

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
Soil modelling and design project assignments provide practice in evaluation and preparation of laboratory data, comparative evaluation of modelling methods and interpretation of complex results. (1) Maths/ Science Methods and Tools (Level 4)
Introduction to poromechanics framework for considering THM behaviour and practice in applying this framework to new and unfamiliar data sets. Three assignment exercises provide practice in use of various modelling methods for predicting soil behaviour and determining soil parameters for engineering design. (2) Engineering/ IT Specialisation (Level 4)
Two assignments and one quiz provide practice in investigating and analysing complex and ambiguous geotechnical engineering situations and determining relevant design parameters. (4) Design (Level 4)
Two assignments for provide understanding of the complex nature of these engineering problems for developing and broadening their research and critical thinking skills. (6) Communication and Inquiry/ Research (Level 4)

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.

(6) Communication and Inquiry/ Research (Level 4)
1. Ability to effectively source information from literatures, critically analyse the conclusions, and identify the assumptions used and limitations of the existing approaches.
(4) Design (Level 4)
2. Ability to determine the design parameters for given geotechnical engineering conditions based on a rational consideration of soil factors.
(2) Engineering/ IT Specialisation (Level 4)
3. Ability to identify the contributing factors influencing thermo-hydro-mechanical (THM) behaviour of soils and explain their interactions, using the theoretical framework of poromechanics.
4. Ability to explain models used in predicting THM behaviour of geo-materials, including their practical requirements and potential limitations.
5. Ability to operate the poromechanics models using real laboratory data to produce meaningful results, and critically evaluate the quality of lab data and ensure readiness for use in soil behaviour modelling for energy geotechnics.
(1) Maths/ Science Methods and Tools (Level 4)
6. Ability to produce soundly-based interpretations of soil modelling results, giving due consideration to assumptions and limitations of the data used and those to the model used.
7. Ability to engage with alternative possible interpretations of the same results, critically examine the merits of each and draw appropriate conclusions.
Assessment Methods:
# Name Group Weight Due Week Outcomes
1 Assignment 1: THM models No 20.00 Week 1 3, 4, 5,
2 Assignment 2: Literature review Yes 20.00 Week 1 1, 2, 4, 5,
3 Assignment 3: Design projects Yes 20.00 Week 1 1, 2, 4, 5, 7,
4 Quiz 1 (1.5hrs) No 20.00 Week 1 3, 4, 5, 6,
5 Quiz 2 (1.5hrs) No 20.00 Week 1 2, 3, 4, 5, 6,
Assessment Description: Assessment in this unit is based on a combination of two quizzes and three assignments. The quizzes are 1.5 hours each and test understanding of key concepts and ability to apply them in working with unfamiliar sets of data. The three assignments require student to work through modelling exercises of progressively increasing levels of challenge. Students aiming for higher grades should note the ability to evaluate and interpret complex data, to weigh up alternative explanations and to recognise limitations of conclusions reached (represented by Learning Outcomes 4-7) are important for high achievement in this unit.
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.
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.
  • Mechanics and Physics of Porous Solids

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

Week Description
Week 1 Assessment Due: Assignment 1: THM models
Assessment Due: Assignment 2: Literature review
Assessment Due: Assignment 3: Design projects
Assessment Due: Quiz 1 (1.5hrs)
Assessment Due: Quiz 2 (1.5hrs)

Course Relations

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

Course Year(s) Offered
Master of Professional Engineering (Accelerated) (Geomechanical) 2019, 2020
Master of Professional Engineering (Geomechanical) 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020
Master of Engineering 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020
Master of Professional Engineering (Accelerated) (Civil) 2019, 2020
Master of Professional Engineering (Civil) 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020

Course Goals

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

Attribute Practiced Assessed
(6) Communication and Inquiry/ Research (Level 4) Yes 9%
(4) Design (Level 4) Yes 13%
(2) Engineering/ IT Specialisation (Level 4) Yes 64.98%
(1) Maths/ Science Methods and Tools (Level 4) Yes 13%

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.