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2021/22 Taught Postgraduate Module Catalogue

SOEE5047M Rock Mechanics

15 creditsClass Size: 12

Module manager: Dr Mark Hildyard

Taught: Semester 1 (Sep to Jan) View Timetable

Year running 2021/22

This module is mutually exclusive with

SOEE5045MRock Engineering

This module is not approved as an Elective

Module summary

Rock mechanics provides a theoretical and empirical formulation of the mechanical behaviour of rocks and rock masses. A thorough understanding of it is important in many fields, whether for underground construction and mining, oil and gas, or tectonics.


- To describe rocks and rock masses in a quantitative manner
- To describe the internal state of an element of rock in terms of stress and strain, and the mechanical behaviour of rock in terms of the relationship between stress and strain
- To understand elasticity theory and its limitations ;
- To understand theories of rock failure;
- To understand and describe the state of stress around underground openings
- To gain practical experience in applying numerical models
- To appreciate the strengths and limitations of numerical models in interpreting stress and strain and failure around underground openings

Learning outcomes
On completion of this module, students should have acquired a thorough understanding of rock mechanics including stress and strain, elasticity theory, and failure theories. They should have gained experience in applying their understanding of rock mechanics theory to problem solving. They should also have gained practical experience in using numerical models, and should have learned to appreciate the strengths and limitations of numerical models in interpreting stress and strain and failure.


1. Stress analysis in two dimensions: tractions, internal state of stress, stress rotation, principal stresses; Mohr's circle. Strain analysis in two dimensions: Mohr circle; strain gauges and Rosette theory. Stress and strain in three dimensions.
2. Behaviour of materials; deformation under stress, full stress-strain relationship in rock; elasticity theory and elastic constants; anisotropy; non-elastic behaviour.
3. Brittle fracture; laboratory tests; acoustic emissions; ISRM standards; fracture criteria, Coulomb-Navier, Mohr, Griffiths, tensile strain.
4. The state of stress in a rockmass; stress fields around underground openings; Kirsch equations for circular openings; lining pressures, rock anisotropy, in situ stress measurement; support and pillars;
5. Practical numerical modelling. Hands-on experience with using three continuum codes (commercial codes RS2 and FLAC, and research code WAVE) to investigate simple rock mechanics problems. Influence of Boundary conditions; resolution; stress state around underground openings; modelling failure; localisation; path dependence.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours108.00
Total Contact hours42.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)150.00

Private study

Directed reading for lectures; self-study completing problem-solving tutorials; self-study completing modelling practicals.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Problem solving tutorials; practicals; in-class discussions.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
PracticalAssessed in-class modelling practical10.00
Tutorial PerformanceAssessed in-class tutorial10.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)20.00

The resit for this module will be by examination only.

Exam typeExam duration% of formal assessment
Standard exam (closed essays, MCQs etc)2 hr 00 mins80.00
Total percentage (Assessment Exams)80.00

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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