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Unit Overview


This unit presents an introduction to soil mechanics for civil engineering foundation designs and mining engineering. The topics range from the basic

soil classifications for engineering purpose, to concepts of effective stress; soil compression and consolidation; seepage; and the strength of soils. 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 gain hands-on experience in laboratory experiments and report on soil engineering properties based on the laboratory experiments. The laboratory experiments are designed to supplement understanding gained at lectures on the soil classification and strength of soils.

6 points
(see Timetable)
Semester 1UWA (Perth)Face to face

Students are able to (1) write concise technical reports; (2) identify the role of geotechnical engineering in the civil and mining engineering design process; (3) apply geotechnical design principles in civil and mining engineering design; (4) identify soil properties, compressibility and strength for soil foundation design; (5) perform soil laboratory tests on soil properties for foundation design; (6) assess the pros and cons of soil laboratory testing; and (7) work effectively and cooperatively in teams.


Indicative assessments in this unit are as follows: (1) laboratory participation and quiz; (2) laboratory reports; and (3) module tests. 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 Yuxia Hu
Unit rules
MATH1011 Multivariable Calculus
or MATX1011 Multivariable Calculus
MATH1012 Mathematical Theory and Methods
or MATX1012 Mathematical Theory and Methods
PHYS1001 Physics for Scientists and Engineers
or PHYX1001 Physics for Scientists and Engineers
and Enrolment in
Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) or an associated Combined Degree
ENSC3009 Geomechanics
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.
  • 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.