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CIVL6455: Engineering Behaviour of Soils (2020 - Semester 2)

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Unit: CIVL6455: Engineering Behaviour of Soils (6 CP)
Mode: Normal-Day
On Offer: Yes
Level: Postgraduate
Faculty/School: Civil Engineering
Unit Coordinator/s: Dr Gan, Yixiang
Session options: Semester 2
Versions for this Unit:
Campus: Camperdown/Darlington
Pre-Requisites: None.
Prohibitions: CIVL5455.
Brief Handbook Description: This is an advanced soil mechanics course. It is concerned with the mechanical stress, strain, strength behaviour and the application of this knowledge in geotechnical engineering. The course includes an introduction to critical state soil mechanics, which is used to assist with the interpretation of soil data, and to enable prediction of ground behaviour. The course uses the critical state framework to provide a firm basis for an understanding of the stress, strain, strength behaviour of all soils, and to enable a rational approach to the selection of parameters for use in geotechnical design.
Assumed Knowledge: CIVL2410 AND CIVL3411. A knowledge of basic concepts and terminology of soil mechanics is assumed. Experience with geotechnical practice in estimating parameters from field and laboratory data would be useful but not essential.
Lecturer/s: Dr Gan, Yixiang
Timetable: CIVL6455 Timetable
Time Commitment:
# Activity Name Hours per Week Sessions per Week Weeks per Semester
1 Lecture 2.00 1 12
2 Laboratory 3.00 1 1
3 Tutorial 1.00 1 12
4 Independent Study 4.00 1 13
T&L Activities: Laboratory: Demonstration of soil testing equipment, and carrying out a variety of soil tests.

Tutorial: Tutorial exercises will be worked through in class.

Independent Study: Independent study is required to master the course concepts, complete tutorial exercises, and prepare for quizzes.

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.

Unassigned Outcomes
1. Ability to identify the contributing factors influencing soil behaviour and explain their interactions, using the framework of critical state soil mechanics.
2. Ability to explain models used in predicting soil behaviour, including their practical requirements and potential limitations.
3. Ability to operate the cam clay model using real laboratory data to produce reliable, meaningful results.
4. Ability to critically evaluate the quality of soil lab data sets and ensure readiness for use in soil behaviour modelling.
5. Ability to produce soundly-based interpretations of soil modelling results, giving due consideration to assumptions and limitations of the data used and those of the model used.
6. Ability to engage with alternative possible interpretations of the same results, critically examine the merits of each and draw appropriate conclusions.
7. Ability to determine the soil design parameters for given geotechnical engineering situations based on a rational consideration of soil factors.
Assessment Methods:
# Name Group Weight Due Week Outcomes
1 Assignment 1 No 20.00 Week 4 1, 2, 4,
2 Quiz 1 (2 hrs) No 20.00 Week 7 1, 2, 3,
3 Assignment 2 No 20.00 Week 9 2, 3, 4, 7,
4 Assignment 3 No 20.00 Week 13 2, 3, 4, 6,
5 Quiz 2 (2 hours) No 20.00 Exam Period 1, 2, 4, 5, 7,
Assessment Description: Assessment in this unit is based on a combination of two quizzes and three assignments. The quizzes are 2 hours each and test understanding of key concepts and ability to apply them in working with unfamiliar sets of soil data. The three assignments require students to work through soil 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.
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.

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

Week Description
Week 1 Principle of Effective Stress
Week 2 Selection of stress and strain parameters
Week 3 Introduction to Laboratory testing of soils
Week 4 Soil Compression
Assessment Due: Assignment 1
Week 5 - Importance of dilation
Critical State Soil Mechanics
- Historical development
- Critical States
Week 6 - Cam Clay models
Critical State Soil Mechanics
- Essential elasticity and plasticity
Week 7 Critical State Soil Mechanics
- Using the model
Assessment Due: Quiz 1 (2 hrs)
Week 8 Soil Strength - Undrained
Week 9 Soil strength - Drained
Assessment Due: Assignment 2
Week 10 Index tests
Week 11 Soil stiffness
Week 12 - Loess
Problematic soils
- Effects of structure and cementation
- Soils with porous/friable particles
Week 13 Advanced soil models
- Cyclic loading
Assessment Due: Assignment 3
STUVAC (Week 14) Assignments
Exam Period Final quiz
Assessment Due: Quiz 2 (2 hours)

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, 2021, 2022
Master of Professional Engineering (Geomechanical) 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022
Master of Engineering 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022
Master of Professional Engineering (Accelerated) (Civil) 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022
Master of Professional Engineering (Civil) 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022
Master of Professional Engineering (Fluids) 2016
Master of Professional Engineering (Structural) 2016

Course Goals

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

Attribute Practiced Assessed
(5) Interdisciplinary, Inclusiveness, Influence (Level 4) No 0%
(4) Design (Level 4) No 0%
(3) Problem Solving and Inventiveness (Level 4) No 0%
(2) Engineering/ IT Specialisation (Level 4) No 0%
(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.