ENSC3009 Geomechanics

6 points
(see Timetable)
Semester 1UWA (Perth)Face to face
Details for undergraduate courses
  • Level 3 core unit in the Civil specialisation in the Engineering Science major sequence
  • Level 3 core unit in the Environmental specialisation in the Engineering Science major sequence
  • Level 3 core unit in the Mining specialisation in the Engineering Science major sequence
  • The area of knowledge for this unit is Mathematical and Physical Sciences
  • Category B broadening unit for students
  • Level 3 elective
This unit presents an introduction to geology and geological processes as they affect civil, resource and environmental engineering projects. Topics include weathering; erosion; minerals, rock and soil types; the rock cycle, rock-forming processes and soil-forming processes. All topics are explained using well-illustrated local and international examples. Full use is made of available video footage and demonstration models and students gain hands-on experience of various soil and rock types. The unit then deals with concepts of effective stress; soil compression and consolidation; seepage; and the strength and deformation properties of soil. The underlying framework is that of critical state soil mechanics which links the strength and stiffness of soil to the density and effective stress level. In-class practice sessions are an essential component of the teaching of the unit to ensure students gain supervised experience in the application of effective stress and critical state principles. Students observe and report on laboratory experiments designed to supplement understanding gained at lectures on the strength and compressibility of soils.
Students are able to (1) write concise technical reports; (2) apply critical thinking to assignments and laboratory work; (3) use interpersonal skills when working in teams; (4) identify the role of geotechnical engineering in the civil engineering design process; (5) apply geotechnical design principles in civil engineering design; (6) identify soil properties of compressibility and strength for soil foundation design; (7) perform soil laboratory tests on soil properties for foundation design; (8) assess the pros and cons of soil laboratory testing and in situ soil field tests; and (9) work in teams.
Indicative assessments in this unit are as follows: (1) lab quiz and active participation; (2) laboratory reports; and (3) module tests. Further information is available in the unit outline.

Supplementary assessment is not available in this unit except in the case of a bachelor's pass degree student who has obtained a mark of 45 to 49 overall and is currently enrolled in this unit, and it is the only remaining unit that the student must pass in order to complete their course.
Unit Coordinator(s)
Professor Yuxia Hu
Unit rules
completion of 18 points of the Level 1 and Level 2 units taken from the degree-specific Engineering Science major, including PHYS1001 Physics for Scientists and Engineers and [MATH1002 Mathematical Methods 2
(MATH1011 Multivariable Calculus
MATH1012 Mathematical Theory and Methods)]
Contact hours
lectures: 3 hours per week; practice sessions: 2 hours per week; labs: 2 hours per week
Enrolled students can access unit materials via the LMS (Learning Management System).

Atkinson, J. The Mechanics of Soils and Foundations, 2nd edn: Taylor & Francis 2007

Whitlow, R. Basic Soil Mechanics, 4th edn: Longman Scientific and Technical 2001

Bolton, M. D. A Guide to Soil Mechanics: Macmillan Press 1979

  • The availability of units in Semester 1, 2, etc. was correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change.
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  • Books and other material wherever listed may be subject to change. Book lists relating to 'Preliminary reading', 'Recommended reading' and 'Textbooks' are, in most cases, available via the Booktopia Textbook Finder, which has the functionality to search by course code, course, ISBN and title, and may also be posted or available at the appropriate school's administrative offices. Where texts are listed in the unit description above, an asterisk (*) indicates that the book is available in paperback.