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CIVL5452: Foundation Engineering (2019 - Semester 1)

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Unit: CIVL5452: 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: CIVL6452.
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: CIVL5452 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

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 write a geotechnical report
(4) Design (Level 4)
2. Ability to interpret borehole log data to determine soil parameters and develop a geotechnical model
(2) Engineering/ IT Specialisation (Level 4)
3. Ability to design foundations (shallow, piled, piled raft) and retaining wall systems
4. Understanding of basic principles of soil mechanics, and of the limitations of these theories
(3) Problem Solving and Inventiveness (Level 4)
5. 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.
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, 2, 5,
4 Foundation Design Yes 15.00 Week 9 2, 3, 4, 5,
5 Retaining Wall design Yes 15.00 Week 11 2, 3, 4, 5,
6 Project Yes 10.00 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

Course Relations

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

Course Year(s) Offered
Master of Engineering (Geotechnical) 2011, 2012
Civil (till 2014) 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014
Civil Engineering / Arts 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014
Civil Engineering / Project Management 2012, 2013, 2014
Civil Engineering / Science 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014
Civil (Construction Management) (till 2014) 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014
Civil (Environmental) (till 2014) 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014
Civil (Geotechnical) (till 2014) 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014
Civil (Structures) (till 2014) 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014
Civil/ Project Management 2019, 2020
Civil 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020
Civil Mid-Year 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020
Project Engineering and Management (Civil) (till 2012) 2011, 2012
Project Engineering and Management (Civil) / Science 2011
Master of Engineering 2013, 2014, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2015
Master of Engineering (Civil Engineering) 2012
Master of Professional Engineering (Accelerated) (Civil) 2019, 2020
Master of Professional Engineering (Accelerated) (Fluids) 2019, 2020
Master of Professional Engineering (Accelerated) (Geomechanical) 2019, 2020
Master of Professional Engineering (Accelerated) (Structural) 2019, 2020
Master of Professional Engineering (Civil) 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020
Master of Professional Engineering (Fluids) 2010, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020
Master of Professional Engineering (Geomechanical) 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020
Master of Professional Engineering (Structural) 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020
Civil / Arts 2015
Civil / Project Management 2015
Civil / Science 2015
Flexible First Year (Stream A) / Science 2012
Civil Engineering / Design in Architecture 2010

Course Goals

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

Attribute Practiced Assessed
(6) Communication and Inquiry/ Research (Level 4) No 7%
(7) Project and Team Skills (Level 3) No 0%
(8) Professional Effectiveness and Ethical Conduct (Level 3) No 0%
(5) Interdisciplinary, Inclusiveness, Influence (Level 4) No 0%
(4) Design (Level 4) No 32.83%
(2) Engineering/ IT Specialisation (Level 4) No 45.66%
(3) Problem Solving and Inventiveness (Level 4) No 14.5%
(1) Maths/ Science Methods and Tools (Level 4) No 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.