The University of Southampton
Courses

CENV2006 Soil Mechanics

Module Overview

This module provides an introduction to the principles of soil mechanics – how soil behaves when subject to engineering loads and construction processes. It also provides knowledge of simple analysis methods that are appropriate for assessment of geotechnical structures – foundations, slopes and retaining walls – and groundwater control problems. At the end of the module the students should be able to understand soil behaviour and apply their knowledge to straightforward engineering structures. The modules builds on the introduction to geological materials given in Part 1 Civil and Environmental Engineering Fundamentals (CENV1025) and provides a foundation for more detailed analysis of geotechnical structures which will be covered in Part 3 Geotechnical Engineering (CENV3020).

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

• Give students an introduction to the principles of Soil Mechanics • Introduce students to the behaviour of soils as engineering materials • Acquaint them with the approaches that allow us to quantify and predict the behaviour of different types of soils in a variety of loading conditions. • Give them the basic analytical methods that apply the concepts introduced to standard engineering problems, like foundations, retaining walls, groundwater flow and ground settlement calculations.

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

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

  • Effective stress.
  • Groundwater flow and soil permeability.
  • One dimensional consolidation and compression of soils.
  • The shear strength of soils included critical states and undrained shear strength.
  • Ground settlement.
  • Analysis methods for the simple design of slopes, foundations and retaining walls.
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Ability to learn
  • Problem analysis and problem solving
  • Information handling
  • Self-management (e.g. time management)
  • Oral and written communication
  • Critical Analysis
  • Group work/team work
  • Numeracy
Subject Specific Practical Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Carry out and interpret a standard oedometer test
  • Carry out and interpret a standard triaxial test
  • Analyse groundwater flow by sketching flownets
  • Analyse the stability of simple geotechnical structures
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Determine the behaviour of soil based on its properties, history, applied loads and the groundwater regime.
  • Analyse groundwater flow around excavations.
  • Calculate flow rates and pore pressures associated with groundwater control.
  • Calculate stress changes and associated settlements below or near shallow raft foundations.
  • Analyse retaining walls and shallow strip foundations at failure, using simple methods.
  • Discuss the limitations of the methods used to analyse retaining walls and strip foundations.
  • Assess the stability of slopes.

Syllabus

• General introduction: revision and application of basic concepts such as phase relationships and effective stress. • Groundwater, permeability and seepage: Darcy’s law and concept of permeability; permeability measurement; flownet sketching, application of flownets. • Compression and Consolidation: the oedometer test; one-dimensional compression and consolidation; application to field problems. • Soil Strength and Soil Behaviour: soil as a frictional material; shear box tests; critical states; peak strengths and dilation; undrained shear strength of clay soils; the triaxial test apparatus; stress parameters; isotropic compression and swelling; shear tests; the Cam Clay model framework. • Calculation of Soil Settlement: selection of “elastic” parameters, Newmark’s chart. • Retaining Walls: concepts of engineering plasticity; active and passive pressures; stress field (Rankine) solutions for embedded walls; limit equilibrium (Coulomb) solutions for gravity walls; simple practical applications assuming frictionless and dry (no porewater pressures) conditions. • Foundations: stress field and mechanism solutions for idealised strip footings; bearing capacity factors for simple strip footing. • Slopes: the infinite slope; Taylor’s charts.

Special Features

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Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods are by: • Lectures, which include presentations, demonstrations and practical problems. • Lab sessions, each of three hours, on which the two assessed reports are based. • Completion of example problems in the students own time.

TypeHours
Wider reading or practice24
Completion of assessment task18
Preparation for scheduled sessions18
Practical classes and workshops6
Follow-up work24
Lecture36
Revision24
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Powrie, W. (2014). Soil Mechanics: Concepts and Applications. 

Bolton M (1988). A Guide to Soil Mechnics. 

lecture notes and module online resources. 

Assessment

Assessment Strategy

Repeat year externally (assessment via coursework resubmission and examination).

Summative

MethodPercentage contribution
Examination  (120 minutes) 80%
Report 10%
Report 10%

Referral

MethodPercentage contribution
Examination  (120 minutes) 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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