ENCN353-19S1 (C) Semester One 2019

Geotechnical Engineering

15 points

Start Date: Monday, 18 February 2019
End Date: Sunday, 23 June 2019
Withdrawal Dates
Last Day to withdraw from this course:
  • Without financial penalty (full fee refund): Friday, 1 March 2019
  • Without academic penalty (including no fee refund): Friday, 10 May 2019


Mohr's circle; time-dependent soil behaviour; settlement; capacity and failure of foundations; field investigations; slope stability; earth pressure theories and retaining structures.

This second course in geomechanics focuses primarily on the analysis of common geo-structures and foundations. It makes use of the soil mechanics concepts and calculations learned in ENCN 253 and familiarity with this material is assumed. Generally speaking, the course content has been developed on the assumption that ideas and understanding, as opposed to codes or rote-learned formulae, are the backbone of successful engineering – our aim is to understand the behaviour of soil, and then put this understanding to work to solve practical engineering problems and make decisions.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course you should be able to:
- Analyse the stability of common geotechnical structures and foundations using conventional methods,
- Compare various in situ and lab-based testing methods for different soil types and scenarios, and interpret typical soil test data,
- Describe and analyse the deformation of soil using effective stress-based principles and appropriate idealisations of soil behaviour,
- Describe conventional methods of design for SLS and ULS for geo-structures, and how to use factors of safety.




Timetable Note

ENCN 353 is taught as a conventional single-semester course, comprising two lectures (4 hours) per week, a weekly tutorial, two lab activities and two assignments. The lectures are used to convey the fundamental concepts and equations; the tutorials provide opportunities for examples on how to apply the theory and the equations learned; the labs help to confirm these concepts and better understand soil behaviour; and the assignment are structured to challenge the students to apply the theories to solve engineering problems.

Tutorials: There will be 10 tutorials, in which students will be asked to work in group of 4. Note that there will be no course grade associate with tutorial attendance. However, you are strongly encouraged to attend all the tutorials for your own benefit in preparation for assignments, labs and exams.

Lab-scheduling questions: All laboratory reports must be done in group. If you need to swap lab groups due to a clash, please speak to the lab technicians in the first instance.

Course Coordinator / Lecturer

Gabriele Chiaro


Mark Stringer

Lab Technicians

Siale Faitotonu and Sean Rees


Assessment Due Date Percentage 
End-semester exam (modules 1-8) 60%
Assignment 1 10%
Assignment 2 10%
Laboratory 1 10%
Laboratory 2 10%

a) TO PASS: A minimum mark of 40% must be achieved in the end-semester exam in order to pass the course. All modules from the course are examinable.

b) Assignments: All assignments can be done individually or in pairs. If done in pairs a single submission for marking is required and both students receive the same mark. It is important that both students play an equal role in completing the assessment as the internal assessment is designed to prepare you for the formal assessments.

All assignments must be submitted by the due date. Late submissions will not be accepted. If a student is unable to complete and submit an assignment by the deadline due to personal circumstances beyond their control they should discuss this with the lecturer involved as soon as possible.

Assignments should be submitted to the drop box marked “ENCN353” located in the Engineering Core entrance hall. Official departmental coversheet should be used for all submissions. Assignments submitted without a coversheet will receive a mark of zero.  

c) Special consideration: Students may apply for special consideration if their performance in an assessment is affected by extenuating circumstances beyond their control.

Applications for special consideration should be submitted via the Examinations Office website http://www.canterbury.ac.nz/exams/ within five days of the assessment. Where an extension may be granted for an assessment, this will be decided by direct application to the Department and an application to the Examinations Office may not be required. For ENCN353, special consideration is only available for the end-semester exams, and not for the assignments, labs or tutorials.

Students prevented by extenuating circumstances from completing the course after the final date for withdrawing, may apply for special consideration for late discontinuation of the course.
Applications must be submitted to the Examinations Office within five days of the end of the main examination period for the semester.

Textbooks / Resources

Recommended Reading

Bolton, Malcolm; A guide to soil mechanics ; MacMillan, 1979.

Davis, R. O. , Selvadurai, A. P. S; Plasticity and geomechanics ; Cambridge University Press, 2002.

Muir Wood, David; Soil mechanics: a One-Dimensional Introduction ; Cambridge University Press, 2009.

Parry, R. H. G; Mohr circles, stress paths, and geotechnics ; 2nd ed; Spon Press, 2003.

Powrie, William; Soil mechanics :concepts and applications ; 2nd ed; Spon Press, 2004.

Indicative Fees

Domestic fee $956.00

International fee $5,250.00

* All fees are inclusive of NZ GST or any equivalent overseas tax, and do not include any programme level discount or additional course-related expenses.

For further information see Civil and Natural Resources Engineering .

All ENCN353 Occurrences

  • ENCN353-19S1 (C) Semester One 2019