The University of Southampton

CENV1025 Civil and Environmental Engineering Fundamentals

Module Overview

This module presents knowledge and skills specific to civil/environmental engineering, in three areas: Chemistry and Computer Programming (in the first semester) and Geology for Engineers in the second semester. It complements the more general engineering science knowledge and understanding covered in the modules FEEG1002 and FEEG1003, and the civil engineering specific skills and knowledge with focus on design and construction in the module CENV1023 in the first year of the civil and environmental engineering degree programmes. The module content is developed further in the second year in modules on Numerical Methods and Soil Mechanics, and in the later years in the environmental engineering thread through the programmes. The skills and knowledge gained in this module are applicable across many areas of the programme, in modules involving design/manufacture and in individual and group research and development projects.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

In Computer Programming, the students are introduced to the basic ideas of computer programming. More formal procedural programming techniques are then developed, using Python as the scripting language. As a secondary aim - and to provide programming exercises with which to motivate the syntactic development - the students will be introduced to simple numerical methods (root finding, solving of equations and basic data processing). In Chemistry, students will be given a fundamental background in the most important chemical and biological principles and their application to influence basic engineering design for pollution and corrosion control. The course also enables students to appreciate the importance of environmental sustainability and the approach of life cycle assessment in civil and environmental engineering practice. In Geology for Engineers, the module provides a general introduction with an emphasis on understanding its importance to ground construction. The course provides an introduction to the main geological processes and a broad appreciation of geohazards and geotechnical risks, of the formation and variability of geotechnical materials, and the importance of groundwater. Fundamental soil and rock properties are introduced in the context of basic soil mechanics.

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • Strategies for decomposing a (mathematical) model of an engineering system or process into smaller tasks that may be solved sequentially (by a computer)
  • Effective stress and Mohr circles
  • Geohazards and geotechnical risks
  • Geological materials, their origins, distribution and uses
  • Groundwater
  • Plate tectonics and the structure of the Earth
  • The importance of geology to civil engineering
  • Methods by which a computer may be instructed to carry out a range of tasks, such as handling data, employing Boolean logic, undertaking iterative loops, receiving interactive input and producing graphical output
  • Techniques by which a computer program can be built up using appropriate code structure, such as functions, classes and modules
  • Basic techniques for the solution of linear equations, linear and non-linear regression, root finding and numerical differentiation and integration
  • The major elemental (e.g. carbon and nitrogen) cycle and water cycle
  • The principles of environmental sustainability and life cycle assessment
  • The chemical and biological theories that influence civil and environmental engineering
  • Sources of major environmental pollution and basic principles on their control and treatment
  • Chemical and biological processes of corrosion formation and measures applied for corrosion control
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Analyse the steps necessary to solve practical problems in engineering by means of computation and conceive of an appropriate algorithm to solve the problem
  • Evaluate the role of geological processes in ground engineering
  • Write and execute computer program to implement a chosen algorithm, with attention to logic, code structure, data types and input/output methods
  • Apply numerical techniques to the solution of equations or the handling and representation of data relevant to practical problems
  • Explain the procedures used to calculate carbon footprint, water footprint and embodied energy of construction materials
  • Identify and quantify chemical reactions needed for environmental engineering
  • Outline the impact of major environmental pollutants and engineering considerations on their treatment processes
  • Determine normal total and effective stresses, shear stresses and failure planes for simple situations
  • Describe a range of technical issues associated with geology and geotechnics
  • Represent stresses using Mohr circles
  • Analyse a soil profile and calculate effective stresses in drained and undrained conditions
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Time management
  • Numeracy-data interpretation
  • Independent learning
  • Apply critical analysis and judgement
  • Presentation of data and analysis results
Subject Specific Practical Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Construct computer programs to solve simple practical problems
  • Carry out basic soil and rock description
  • Identify geological features seen on field visits
  • Identify areas of pre-existing slope instability


1. Computing Programming a. General Programming Skills: • Writing and executing a program (\Hello World"). • Writing and executing a program solving a mathematical equation using the appropriate base types. • Writing and executing a program the employs Boolean logic in an if statement. • Writing and executing a program demonstrating the use of iterative loops: for and while. • Writing and executing a program that uses compound data types: e.g. tuples, arrays, dictionaries. • Writing and executing a program demonstrating the use of code structures e.g. functions classes and modules. • Writing and executing a program that demonstrates a case of overloading and inheritance. b. Numerical Methods Skills: • Writing and executing a program that correctly uses the numpy.linalg library to solve a set of linear equations. • Writing and executing a program that uses regression of t a function to data and generates a graphical plot of the data and fitted function. • Writing and executing a program that demonstrates use of the Newton-Raphson method for root finding • Writing and executing a program that demonstrates numerical differentiation and integration. 2. Chemistry for civil and environmental engineers • Elemental cycles (carbon, nitrogen) and water cycle • Environmental sustainability, carbon footprint, water footprint, and embodied energy of construction materials • Principle of life cycle assessment • Foundational principles in chemistry and biochemistry: - Partial pressure of gases; aqueous solutions and concentration; • Henry’s law; carbon dioxide, carboxylic acid and pH - Reactions (neutralisation, oxidation-reduction, precipitation); balancing chemical equations - Reaction kinetics and thermodynamics; reversible reaction, i.e. Chatelier’s principle - Biochemistry and the function of organisms in elemental cycles - Enthalpy and free energy changes of reaction - Engineering considerations and calculations, flow rate, residence time • Pollution and control - Air pollution (source, toxicity, fate, and control) - Water pollution (source, toxicity, fate, and control) - Solid and hazardous wastes (source, toxicity, fate, and control) • Electrochemical and microbial corrosion of construction materials and its control 3. Geology for engineers • The structure of the earth, plate tectonics, continental drift and their engineering implications • Geohazards and geotechnical risks • The origins, distribution and variability of a range of geomaterials • Properties of geomaterials with importance for construction • Groundwater • Effective stress and Mohr’s circles • Laboratory classes: Engineering description of soils and rocks; • Classification of soils • Field visits: Two full-day field trips will be organised to the Isle of • Wight and the Dorset coast in Semester 2.

Special Features

The module includes two one-day field trips to the Isle of Wight and to Dorset. These trips include elements of traversing of difficult terrain. For students with mobility difficulties, alternative arrangements will be made to ensure an equivalent learning experience.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

For Chemistry, teaching methods will involve lectures,tutorials and a laboratory class. Tutorial problems sheets will be issued in support of the course content, and formative feedback on the students’ work on these problem sheets will be given during tutorials. The laboratory class is assessed along with an activity that the students carry out on campus involving identifying and analysing cases of corrosion. For Geology, teaching methods will comprise lectures, supported by 2 one-day field visits and 2 laboratory classes. Students produce reports on the field visits and laboratory classes, which are assessed and on which feedback is given. For Computer Programming, teaching methods will comprise lectures and computing workshops. Lectures deliver and discuss the high level concepts around programming, as well as demonstrating techniques the students will be required to learn, through `live' programming projected on the screen by the lecturer. Each lecture will conclude with the setting of an informal assignment which is then undertaken by students in the computing workshop, where a workstation is available to each student. Students are encouraged to converse and work together to complete the programming tasks, and demonstrators are on hand to answer queries and help students accomplish the tasks. Summative assessment is by two pieces of coursework, which each require the student to write a computer program to solve a specified engineering problem, producing the code along with a brief description and justification of the method used to solve the problem.

Supervised time in studio/workshop9
Follow-up work35
Wider reading or practice30
Preparation for scheduled sessions20
Practical classes and workshops22
Completion of assessment task60
Total study time300

Resources & Reading list

Press, F. and Siever, R. (2003) (2003). Understanding Earth. 4th edition.. 

Conoley, C. and Hills, P. (2008) (2008). Chemistry. 

Fangohr, H. (2012) (2012). Introduction to Python for Computational Science and Engineering. 

Kearey, P. (2001) (2001). The Penguin Dictionary of Geology (2nd edition.). 

Waltham, T. (2002) (2002).  Foundations of Engineering Geology (3rd edition). 

Press, W.H. et al. (2007), (2007). Numerical Recipes (3rd Edition): The Art of Scientific Computing. 

Weiner R. F. and Matthews R. A. (2003), (2003). Environmental Engineering. 

Curran M. A. (2012) (2012).  Life cycle assessment handbook: a guide for environmentally sustainable products. 

Ahmad Z. (2006),. Principles of corrosion engineering and corrosion control. 

Knuth, D.E. (2011) (2011). The Art of Computer Programming (4 volumes). 


Assessment Strategy



MethodPercentage contribution
Coursework 15%
Coursework 10%
Coursework 3.5%
Exam  (120 minutes) 50%
Fieldwork report 5%
Fieldwork report 5%
Laboratory 1.5%
Laboratory Report 5%
Laboratory Report 5%


MethodPercentage contribution
Coursework 10%
Coursework 15%
Exam 75%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External


Costs associated with this module

Students are responsible for meeting the cost of essential textbooks, and of producing such essays, assignments, laboratory reports and dissertations as are required to fulfil the academic requirements for each programme of study.

In addition to this, students registered for this module typically also have to pay for:

Please also ensure you read the section on additional costs in the University’s Fees, Charges and Expenses Regulations in the University Calendar available at

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