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2021/22 Taught Postgraduate Module Catalogue

SOEE5017M Geological Investigation and Characterisation

30 creditsClass Size: 45

Module manager: Dr Mark Thomas

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

Year running 2021/22

Module replaces

SOEE5015M Geological Models and SOEE5012M Laboratory and Field Skills

This module is not approved as an Elective

Module summary

This Module aims to develop student’s ability to characterize the ground for engineering geological purposes and develop various types of geological and geotechnical models. Students will be able synthesis and evaluate methods used in the field and/or laboratory as part of a site investigation to contribute towards planning and design. They will be able to identify the importance of the laboratory and field aspects to an engineering geology investigation and elucidate how this contributes to a geotechnical project. They will be able to appreciate how their skills could be used in the applied engineering geology, geotechnical and construction environment. The students will develop transferable including interactive and group skills, data recording, communication skills, planning and management, problem solving, research skills, thinking in 3D, industrial style report writing and fieldwork skills.


1. ability to develop conceptual geological models in ground engineering in their broadest concept and to demonstrate how such models can be used to guide site investigation;
2. ability to show how multiple datasets can be combined to provide a model of the ground that can be used to manage ground risk;
3. ability to develop and plan field and laboratory investigations;
4. ability to report results in an effective and concise reporting style;
5. ability to work effectively and safely in a laboratory and field environment either independently or a part of a group;
6. understanding of the significance and importance laboratory and field investigations will have on determining the engineering characteristics of the ground for construction;
7. understanding of the distinction between soil, rock-masses and intact rock material properties, as characterised in the field and laboratory;
and 8. knowledge of the commercial world through visits to and presentations on real construction and site investigation schemes.

Learning outcomes
By the completion of this module students should be capable of performing a range of laboratory, technical and field skills including:

1. developing conceptual and observational geological or geotechnical models and populating these with parameters relevant to the subject at hand (e.g. strength, permeability etc), including the justification and defense of these models if they are questioned;
2. designing, interpreting, and professionally reporting on non-invasive and invasive methods of investigating the ground, including appropriate laboratory testing programmes;
3. recognizing how ground conditions may change over engineering time in response to active geological processes;
4. assessing the geological/ground information required in geotechnical designs and reports;
5. assessing geohazards via field, desk and laboratory investigations;
6. assessing the relative importance of discontinuities and their characteristics;
7. constructing and interpreting geomorphological maps in the field;
8. undertaking engineering geological observations in the field and recording these adequately in notebooks, including soil and rock/rock-mass description and classification in the field environment following the relevant standards; and
9. applying relevant national and international guidelines and standards in relation to field and laboratory investigations.


- The geological model: data sources and guidelines for construction
- Displaying geological data: conceptual models and reference conditions
- Developing ground models from geological models
- Additional process information and engineering geomorphology
- Geological processes that modify the ground
- Quaternary climate change and weathering
- Desk study data for geological models: historical maps
- Aerial photography and remote sensing
- Uses of shallow geophysics in ground investigation
- Site investigation practice
- Advancing boreholes and design of site investigations
- Methods of drilling and boring
- In situ monitoring and in situ testing, monitoring groundwater

Rock and soils description and testing in the laboratory, including:
- rock shear box tests
- core logging
- permeability testing
- slake durability testing
- point load testing
- index property testing
-soil description and classification
-rock core logging

Fieldwork: Develop geological models and reference conditions in the field, assess geological hazard and risk, interpret geological environments and how that may impact on design of critical infrastructure in the present and future; geomorphological mapping and rock mass classification.

Industry presentations and site visits: to illustrate case studies of engineering geological projects.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Peer Discussion52.0010.00
Class tests, exams and assessment12.002.00
Group learning42.008.00
Private study hours154.00
Total Contact hours146.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)300.00

Private study

Writing up assessed practical work (formative and summative): Graphical display of geological models – 20 hrs; Site Investigation Design – 14 hrs; River Crossing Presentation Preparation – 10 hrs; Writing up/proof reading laboratory practical group report, each individual – 40 hours.

Reading reference material associated with lectures and revising for exam: 70 hrs

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Ground model development and site investigation design for HS2: Term 1
Verbal feedback from laboratory demonstrators/TA during the lab classes: Term 2

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
FieldworkAssessment of field notebooks and geomorphological maps (final fieldtrip). The fieldwork or an alternative equivalent assessment MUST be completed to pass this module*10.00
AssignmentIndividual ground model development for a river crossing developed into a group presentation through peer discussion20.00
Group ProjectLaboratory Test Report20.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)50.00

*Completion of the fieldwork or an equivalent alternative assessment is required to pass this module. Please note that capped re-sits for this module are entirely based on an unseen examination, but the fieldwork or an equivalent alternative assessment is still required to be completed.

Exam typeExam duration% of formal assessment
Open Book exam48 hr 00 mins50.00
Total percentage (Assessment Exams)50.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 30/06/2021 16:25:49


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