Studying online

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Unit Overview


This unit develops students' knowledge of geotechnical engineering and explores the application of geomechanics principles to the solution of problems related to shallow foundations, slopes, embankments, retaining walls and ground improvement. Students learn how the mechanical characteristics of soils, as inferred from laboratory and in situ tests, can be applied in geotechnical design. Topics include site and soil characterisation, laboratory tests in soils for onshore and offshore applications, bearing capacity, earth pressure theory, retaining wall design, road cuttings and embankment design, ground improvement and slope stability.

6 points
(see Timetable)
Semester 1UWA (Perth)Face to face
Details for undergraduate courses
  • Level 3 core unit in the Civil Engineering major sequence

Students are able to (1) proficiently write an engineering report on a laboratory experiment; (2) exercise improved interpersonal skills by working in groups; (3) apply soil mechanics principles to the solution of engineering problems related to the stability of foundations, walls and slopes; (4) proficiently interpret geotechnical laboratory and field ground investigation techniques; (5) demonstrate increased awareness of construction practices; (6) discuss accuracy requirements and limitations; and (7) design and specify ground improvement schemes.


Indicative assessments in this unit are as follows: (1) in-class assessments and laboratory reporting; (2) mid-semester examination; and (3) a final examination. Further information is available in the unit outline.

Student may be offered supplementary assessment in this unit if they meet the eligibility criteria.

Unit Coordinator(s)
Professor Barry Lehane
Unit rules
GENG2009 Principles of Geomechanics
and Enrolment in
Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) or an associated Combined Degree
CIVL4401 Applied Geomechanics
Contact hours
lectures: 20 hours
seminars: 13 hours
practical classes: 12 hours
labs: 4 hours
  • The availability of units in Semester 1, 2, etc. was correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change.
  • All students are responsible for identifying when they need assistance to improve their academic learning, research, English language and numeracy skills; seeking out the services and resources available to help them; and applying what they learn. Students are encouraged to register for free online support through GETSmart; to help themselves to the extensive range of resources on UWA's STUDYSmarter website; and to participate in WRITESmart and (ma+hs)Smart drop-ins and workshops.
  • Unit readings, including any essential textbooks, are listed in the unit outline for each unit, one week prior the commencement of study. The unit outline will be available via the LMS and the UWA Handbook one week prior the commencement of study. Reading lists and essential textbooks are subject to change each semester. Information on essential textbooks will also be made available on the Essential Textbooks. This website is updated regularly in the lead up to semester so content may change. It is recommended that students purchase essential textbooks for convenience due to the frequency with which they will be required during the unit. A limited number of textbooks will be made available from the Library in print and will also be made available online wherever possible. Essential textbooks can be purchased from the commercial vendors to secure the best deal. The Student Guild can provide assistance on where to purchase books if required. Books can be purchased second hand at the Guild Secondhand bookshop (second floor, Guild Village), which is located on campus.
  • Contact hours provide an indication of the type and extent of in-class activities this unit may contain. The total amount of student work (including contact hours, assessment time, and self-study) will approximate 150 hours per 6 credit points.