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The University of Southampton

CENV1027 Civil Engineering Fundamentals

Module Overview

This module presents knowledge and skills specific to civil/environmental engineering, in three areas: Environmental Sustainability and Geology for Engineers and in Construction. 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 in the module CENV1026 in the first year of the civil and environmental engineering degree 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. In construction, students are first introduced to surveying, becoming conversant with modern surveying and construction techniques and develop surveying and setting out skills based on practical tasks undertaken around the campus. These skills will then be applied as a very important element of the construction of structures during the Constructionarium, which is a week-long residential field course activity in the final teaching week of semester 2. This tests awareness and knowledge of engineering processes in solving a series of practical construction tasks using the common civil engineering materials, steel, timber and reinforced concrete. Preparing for the Constructionarium is a major activity in semester 2, in which students work in groups to develop project plans, method statements and formwork/temporary works designs. A parallel activity in Semester 2 uses knowledge gained in the Mechanics, Structures and Materials module on the theoretical behaviour of structures to undertake numerical calculations to assess the performance of the Constructionarium structures, through a structural design exercise that includes sketching of load paths and structural form and understanding of loading, structural stability and structural element behaviour.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

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

  • Outline the importance of geology to civil engineering.
  • Define the principles and techniques of basic land surveying.
  • Explain procedures for setting up and using surveying instruments.
  • Detail methods of assessing the accuracy in surveying.
  • Define common types of loading on structures and structural forms suitable to resist them.
  • Model real structures to enable calculation of structural adequacy.
  • Select common site operations with due regard for their capabilities and limitations.
  • Understand importance of team working, leadership and communication in construction.
  • Appreciate the importance of environmental sustainability and life cycle thinking to civil engineering
  • Explain the approach of footprint analysis and life cycle assessment in civil engineering
  • Describe methods of resource reduction and pollution control to reduce negative environmental impacts of civil engineering projects
  • Explain chemical and biological processes of corrosion formation and measures applied for corrosion control.
  • Describe geohazards and geotechnical risks.
  • Describe geological materials, their origins, distribution and uses.
  • Explain the importance of groundwater.
  • Explain plate tectonics and the structure of the Earth.
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Explain the procedures used to calculate carbon footprint, water footprint and energy footprint of construction materials and civil engineering projects.
  • 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.
  • Analyse a soil profile and calculate effective stresses in drained and undrained conditions.
  • Evaluate the role of geological processes in ground engineering.
  • Appraise technical drawings and their engineering implications.
  • Report progress and expenditure of resources during a construction project.
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Time management.
  • Communication of ideas.
  • Leadership.
  • Numeracy-data interpretation.
  • Independent learning.
  • Apply critical analysis and judgement.
  • Presentation of data and analysis results.
  • Decision making.
  • Exercising of independent judgment.
  • Planning and time management.
  • Group working.
Subject Specific Practical Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Work Safely.
  • Carry out basic soil and rock description.
  • Identify geological features seen on field visits.
  • Identify areas of pre-existing slope instability.
  • Carry out basic surveying techniques including the use of a level to establish a site datum and use a Total Station for surveying and the basic setting of a site.
  • Compile a method statement for a model construction project and manage the tasks and processes of a construction project.
  • Perform a variety of basic construction tasks.
  • Effectively communicate using a range of media and methods.


a. Environmental Sustainability Concept of life cycle thinking Carbon footprint, water footprint and energy footprint calculation for construction materials and civil engineering projects Principles of life cycle assessment Resource recycling to improve environmental performance of civil engineering projects Pollution control to improve environental performance of civil engineering projects b.. 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. c. Construction Surveying • Map projections and datums • Levelling • Use of theodolites. • Total station and distance measurements. • Setting out. Quantitative design, related to Constructionarium • Common types of loading on structures. • Idealisation of real structures to enable calculation. • Calculation of structural adequacy of steel and reinforced concrete structures and shallow foundations Constructionarium field course • Interpreting drawings, including taking off quantities. • Construction planning (method statements, task lists, programming). • Health, safety, welfare and the environment in construction. • Construction practice (excavation, reinforcement, formwork, concrete, steel erection, final finishing, temporary works). • Project management techniques (cost estimates, monitoring progress against plan, adapting plan to unforeseen events).

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

This module will be delivered through a combination of the following: • Lectures for the delivery of new material and concepts. • Tutorial sessions for the discussion of topics, support for student learning by means of examples, and to support project development. • Practical Classes, Workshops and Fieldwork to develop understanding and skills through practical application. • Student presentations to develop communication skills. • Self-paced/ online course material to support independent learning. • Field visits • Individual and group work. Environmental Sustainability: For Environmental Sustainability, teaching methods will involve lectures. Geology: 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. Construction: You will start with a series of lectures and practical exercises in surveying. This key civil Engineering skill will be employed at the constructionarium later in the year. A series of lectures in semester 1 will give an overview of the constructionairum projects and associated tasks and skills required. You will also learn about more detailed structural form and key mechanical principles of each project. There will be a series of lectures on construction methods, health and safety risk management, with particular emphasis on the Constructionarium. Project groups are allocated by course tutors. Shortly before the constructionarium there will be the final set of tasks including a short course to learn how to set out your structures using a modern theodolite or total station. Finally there is a briefing day which includes a health and safety briefing, planning management and team working exercises to ensure you work effectively as a group. Attendance for this briefing day is COMPULSORY. The Constructionarium residential field course takes place at the end of semester 2 over 5 days (plus one day of travelling) at the National construction college at Bircham Newton in Norfolk.

Supervised time in studio/workshop12
Preparation for scheduled sessions32
Wider reading or practice20
Completion of assessment task48
Practical classes and workshops14
Total study time283


Assessment Strategy

The learning outcomes of this module will be assessed under the Part I Assessment Schedule for FEE Engineering Programmes which forms an Appendix to your Programme Specification. Feedback will be available on the formative work undertaken during the module.


MethodPercentage contribution
Part I Assessment Schedule 100%


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:


For field trips, students will need to wear suitable clothing e.g. waterproofs and stout shoes. You can purchase these from any source. Travel for field trips will be provided. Students will be expected to bring or purchase their own lunch and any additional refreshments. Students are required to purchase their own safety boots for the Constructionarium. A budget cost of £40 should be allowed for. Information will be given on Blackboard about local suppliers with whom discounts have been negotiated.

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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