Studying online

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Units with modes Online timetabled and Online flexible are available for any student to self-enrol and study online.

Units available in Online Restricted mode have been adapted for online study only for those students who require the unit to complete their studies and who are unable to attend campus due to COVID border closures. To be enrolled in a unit in Online Restricted mode, students should contact their Student Advising Office through askUWA and include which of the below criteria applies:

  • You are a student who is currently offshore and unable to enter Australia.
  • You are a student in Australia who is impacted by state or regional border closures.

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ENSC3009 Geomechanics

6 points
(see Timetable)
Semester 1UWA (Perth)Face to face
Semester 1OnlineOnline timetabled
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.
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 or (MATH1011 Multivariable Calculus and 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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  • 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.