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2021/22 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

CIVE1460 Properties of Materials: Water, Soil, Steel and Timber

20 creditsClass Size: 200

Module manager: Professor Ian Richardson

Taught: Semesters 1 & 2 (Sep to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2021/22

Pre-requisite qualifications

A-level Mathematics grade C or equivalent

Module replaces

CIVE1405, CIVE1500, and CIVE1301

This module is not approved as a discovery module

Module summary



The objectives for this module are:

To provide the students with an understanding of the fundamentals of materials' behaviour.

To enable students to appreciate the relevance of steel, timber and other materials for the design and construction of buildings and civil engineering structures.

To introduce students to soils as engineering materials so that by the end of the module they will have an understanding of the main types of soils, their stress-strain behaviour and strength characteristics and of the use of these concepts, after appropriate development, in the field of lateral earth pressures, including the analysis of retaining walls.

To introduce water engineering and establish its relevance in architecture and civil engineering.

To enable students to take the step from solid mechanics to fluid mechanics so that they are able to analyse fluids flow using the familiar fundamental principles of conservation of mass, conservation of energy and Newton's laws.

To be able to utilise these fluids mechanics concepts to analyse and design simple hydraulic structures.

Learning outcomes
On completion of this module students will be able to:

1. understand fundamental building materials' behaviour on a micro to macro scale;
2. understand the relevance of this behaviour in terms of design of structural elements;
3. understand the geological processes that result in the formation of engineering soils;
4. have knowledge of how soils are characterised for engineering purposes;
5. appreciate the factors that control the strength and stiffness of engineering soils;
6. be able to apply their understanding of soil strength to the calculation of the ultimate loads that can be supported by a building or an engineering structure;
7. understand the application of fundamental mechanics principles to fluids;
8. be able to design and analyse simple hydraulic structures.

In addition, students completing this module will also have gained the knowledge, understanding, skills or abilities that contribute to achieving the following ARB General Criteria for Part 1:
• understand the constructional and structural systems, the environmental strategies and the regulatory requirements that apply to the design and construction of a comprehensive design project; GC1.2.
• the investigation, critical appraisal and selection of alternative structural, constructional and material systems relevant to architectural design; GC8.1.
• strategies for building construction, and ability to integrate knowledge of structural principles and construction techniques; GC8.2.
• the physical properties and characteristics of building materials, components and systems, and the environmental impact of specification choices; GC8.3.

Skills outcomes
Team Working


Students gain a fundamental understanding of the physical and mechanical properties of soil, steel and timber in the context of the design and performance of buildings and civil engineering structures and their interaction with the supporting or adjacent ground. Students are also introduced to the fundamental principles of fluid flow; this forms the basis of further study of pipe flow characteristics (with direct relevance to drainage design) and flow through porous and semi-permeable media (which has relevance to energy efficiency in buildings covered in later Building Physics modules). In the study of soils students gain an understanding of lateral earth pressure (of direct relevance to basement design) and the strength and stiffness of soils which provides the basis of foundation design and consideration of settlement effects (and the basis of avoiding excessive differential settlement in buildings). The study of steel and timber relate not only to the mechanical properties of these materials and how these influence the choice of structural form but also their in-service performance (e.g. fire, corrosion and the protection of timber species against insect attack and fungal-induced deterioration), operational energy (forming the basis of energy flow investigations in Building Physics 1, CIVE2815) and embodied energy and carbon.

Introduction to civil engineering materials. Bonding, structure, plasticity, deformation and strengthening mechanisms of metals. Failure mechanism of metals in service, welding and corrosion of metals. Anatomy of the tree, anisotropy, strength moisture content, shrinkage and durability of timber.

Introduction to geological processes. Formation of solids and rocks. Soil classification including index tests, particle size distribution and field tests. Principle of effective stress. Strength and stress-strain behaviour. Mohr-Coulomb criteria. Laboratory and field tests. Introduction to lateral earth pressures covering the Rankine and Coulomb approaches, gravity and sheet pile retaining walls.

Typical reading materials to support this module include:
Douglas, J.F., Gasiorek, J.M. and Swaffield, J.A. Fluid Mechanics. Longman
Featherstone, R.E. and Nalluri, C. Civil Engineering Hydraulics. Blackwell Science
Chadwick, A. and Morfett, J. Hydraulics in Civil and Environmental Engineering
Construction materials : their nature and behaviour J.M. Illston and P. L. J. Domone t(3rd ed.), Spon Press
The Shell bitumen handbook. D. Whiteoak and J.M. Read Thomas Telford Ltd.

Teaching methods

Due to COVID-19, teaching and assessment activities are being kept under review - see module enrolment pages for information

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
On-line Learning61.006.00
Class tests, exams and assessment38.0024.00
Private study hours110.00
Total Contact hours90.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

Review of lecture materials.
Directed work for MCQs.
Undertaking example sheets and background reading.
Undertaking formative and summative problem activities.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Multiple Choice Questions .
Formative and summative problem activities.
Regular examples classes.
In class interaction and direct feedback.

Methods of assessment

Due to COVID-19, teaching and assessment activities are being kept under review - see module enrolment pages for information

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
ReportLaboratory Class5.00
Problem Sheet2 Problem Sheets10.00
In-course AssessmentIn-class Test5.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)20.00

Resit 100% online time-limited assessment

Exam typeExam duration% of formal assessment
Online Time-Limited assessment3 hr 00 mins80.00
Total percentage (Assessment Exams)80.00

The resit exam taken as external (inc. summer) will be 100% online time-limited assessment.

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 30/06/2021 16:19:55


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