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2023/24 Taught Postgraduate Module Catalogue

CIVE5162M Constituitive Models and Numerical Analysis

15 creditsClass Size: 40

Module manager: Dr Xiaohui Chen

Taught: Semester 1 (Sep to Jan) View Timetable

Year running 2023/24

This module is not approved as an Elective

Module summary

This module is about predicting engineering responses to complex geotechnical construction using numerical methods. The module has a particular focus on appropriate understanding of interactions between soils/groundwater/pollutants and of geotechnical structures. It will also cover the link between engineering, earth science, environmental management and sustainable development.


This module aims to equip students with state-of-the-art information and knowledge relating to constitutive modelling and numerical analysis in geotechnical engineering.

Learning outcomes
Upon completion of the module students will have:
1. An comprehensive knowledge and understanding of scientific principles and methodology necessary to underpin their education in their geotechnical engineering
2. Knowledge and understanding of mathematical methods necessary to underpin their education in their geotechnical engineering and to enable them to apply a range of mathematical methods, tools and notations proficiently and critically in the analysis and solution of geotechnical engineering problems.
3. A comprehensive knowledge and understanding of mathematical and computational models relevant to geotechnical engineering, and an appreciation of their limitations.
4. An ability to apply quantitative and computational methods, using alternative approaches and understanding their limitations, in order to solve geotechnical engineering problems and to implement appropriate action.

This module contributes to the AHEP3 learning outcomes LOi, LOvi, LOxxii

Skills outcomes
Ability to use COMSOL and PLAXIS for numerical prediction of geotechnical problems.


Constitutive modelling in geotechnical engineering; definition of finite element and numerical prediction; definition of coupled modelling; assessing the geotechnical engineering risks associated with soils/rocks and groundwater interaction; modelling of coupled hydro-mechanical-chemical behaviours; modelling of geotechnical structures.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
On-line Learning12.002.00
Group learning15.005.00
Private study hours111.00
Total Contact hours39.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)150.00

Private study

The assignment for this course is to assess a case study of a real geotechnical engineering numerical analysis and prediction, and appropriate engineering responses. The assignment will be carried out in two parts, the first part in a group to facilitate group work and collective decision making, and the second part as an individual producing a report and set of recommendations. This will require extensive critical background reading on the specific case study as well as the general technical literature.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Student progress is monitored during the delivery of the module by the use of example sheets, which they are encouraged to attempt. Practical ability is monitored both by reviewing the booking sheets completed by the students during the group project sessions and by assessments of their ability to use software during the modelling work.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
In-course AssessmentNumerical analysis of the deformation of an excavation10.00
ReportNumerical analysis of the deformation and failure of a geotechnical structure40.00
Computer ExerciseUsing software COMSOL to develop a coupled hydro-mechanical model50.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

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: 28/04/2023 14:52:55


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