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2023/24 Taught Postgraduate Module Catalogue

CIVE5975M Foundation Engineering (MSc)

15 creditsClass Size: 60

Module manager: Professor Barry Clarke

Taught: Semester 1 (Sep to Jan) View Timetable

Year running 2023/24

Pre-requisite qualifications

Satisfactory completion of undergraduate degree in Civil Engineering or an equivalent qualification

This module is not approved as an Elective

Module summary

The module will build on a basic understanding of the behaviour of soil to cover the range of foundations available for structures, including shallow foundations such as strip, pad and raft foundations, deep foundations such as caissons, shafts and piles; and composite foundations such as piled rafts and ground improvement. It will cover the approach to design, analysis and construction of foundations. Soil improvement will be covered. Assessment is by a three hour open book examination and a project.


On completion of this module the students should have a knowledge of the range of foundations available for construction, their analysis, construction and performance and be able to select the appropriate foundation for a particular situation.

Learning outcomes
On completion of the module students will have:
1. A comprehensive knowledge and understanding of scientific principles and methodology of foundations for structures, their performances during construction and in service;
2. A comprehensive knowledge and understanding of scientific principles of geotechnical hazards and how they affect design decisions for temporary and permanent works for foundations.
3. Ability to extract and evaluate pertinent data and to apply engineering analysis techniques in the solution of unfamiliar problems
4. Ability both to apply appropriate engineering analysis methods for solving complex foundation problems and to assess their limitations
5. Knowledge, understanding and skills to work with information that may be incomplete or uncertain, quantify the effect of this on the design adjusting where appropriate
6. Apply advanced problem-solving skills, technical knowledge and understanding, to establish rigorous and creative solutions for oundations
7. Ability to work with technical uncertainty.
8. Monitor and adjust a personal programme of work on an on-going basis

This module contributes to the AHEP3 learning outcomes LOi, LOiv, LOvi, LOvii, LOviii, LOix, LOxiv, LOxv, LOxx, LOxxii.

Skills outcomes
- An ability to identify geotechnical hazards and assess the risk of them occurring;
- An ability to assess the forces acting on a foundation and the response of the soil to those forces.
- An ability to produce engineering solutions to foundation problems.


 Review of the behaviour of granular and cohesive soil, drained and
undrained loading, consolidation and compression characteristics.
 The design process covering methods to deal with uncertainty, design
and load combinations, assumptions, the design procedure and
decision criteria.
 Actions on and analysis (ultimate limit state and serviceability limit
state) of:
o Shallow foundations - pad, strip and raft
o Deep foundations – caissons, shafts and piles
o Composite foundation – piled rafts, basements and ground

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Class tests, exams and assessment13.003.00
Private study hours108.00
Total Contact hours42.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)150.00

Private study

The assignment for this course is to design a foundation for a structure. Students are required to produce the ground model and undertake analysis to determine the overall stability, the local stability and deformation of the structure. The assignment will be carried out in two parts; the first part, formative exercise, covers the an assessment of geotechnical hazards, creation of the ground model, a summary of the assumptions and approach to the design and the design of shallow foundations; the second part is the report of the complete foundation design and that is assessed. This exercise will be used by students to assemble a portfolio of material to support them in the exam and ensure that they have covered the topics that could be examined.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

 Short, weekly on line tests are used by students to assess their understanding of basic principles which they should be familiar
 A mock exam is held at the end of the semester to prepare students for an open book exam
 The coursework includes a formative exercise to help students understand what is expected of them

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
ReportProject Report on Foundation Design30.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)30.00

Resit: 100% online time-limited assessment. There will also be a piece of formative coursework (i.e. it does not count towards the final grading) - a report on assumptions. This is a compulsory element.

Exam typeExam duration% of formal assessment
Online Time-Limited assessment5 hr 00 mins70.00
Total percentage (Assessment Exams)70.00

Resit 100% Exam.

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 16/08/2023 08:40:17


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