Module and Programme Catalogue

Search site

Find information on

2024/25 Taught Postgraduate Module Catalogue

SOEE5045M Rock Engineering

30 creditsClass Size: 45

Module manager: Dr Mark Hildyard

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

Year running 2024/25

This module is not approved as an Elective

Module summary

Rock Engineering is the application of engineering principles to the safe design of structures in rock for such purposes as mining, storage, underground space, tunnelling and infrastructure. The quantitative science underpinning rock engineering, Rock Mechanics, applies elements of engineering mechanics (e.g. solid mechanics, stress, strain, elasticity, plasticity, fracture mechanics) to rock, a complex and heterogeneous geological material. A thorough understanding of Rock Mechanics is important in many fields, whether for underground construction, mining, oil and gas, civil engineering, or tectonics. Rock Engineering design, may benefit in many cases from the use of numerical (computer) modelling based on rock mechanics theory, but Rock Engineering practice also places considerable emphasis on empirical analysis and empirical design methods, due to the complexity of rock material. This module provides a solid grounding in fundamental rock mechanics theory, and introduces students to numerical modelling, and to rock engineering practices for underground excavation and tunnelling.


The module aims to provide both a theoretical understanding of Rock Mechanics and a practical knowledge of Rock Engineering, as a fundamental grounding needed by a practicing engineering geologist. The objectives are to enable students:
1. To describe rocks and rock masses in a quantitative manner;
2. 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;
3. To understand elasticity theory and its limitations;
4. To understand theories of rock failure;
5. To understand and describe the state of stress around underground openings;
6. To understand potential for failure around underground openings;
7. To gain practical experience in applying numerical models;
8. To appreciate the strengths and limitations of numerical models in interpreting stress and strain and failure around underground openings;
9. To understand typical laboratory tests used to characterise rock materials;
10. To apply rock mass classification schemes to give first order parameters for design, along with an awareness of the limitations of such methodologies;
11. To make stability analyses of surface and underground structures;
12. To understand different methods used for excavation and tunnelling;
13. To understand different support methods used in excavation and tunnelling.

Learning outcomes
On successful completion of the module students will have demonstrated the following learning outcomes relevant to the subject:

A thorough grounding in Rock Mechanics theory, and a valuable exposure to Rock Engineering practice, including:

1. a clear comprehension of stress and strain as a description of the mechanical state of a rockmass;
2. an understanding of the relationship of stress and strain in rock, including regions of elastic and inelastic behaviour;
3. an understanding of elasticity theory;
4. an understanding of fracturing and failure in rock and theories to describe it;
5. an appreciation that rockmass behaviour can be complex with aspects described by both continuum and discontinuum behaviour;
6. ability to apply understanding of rock mechanics to problem solving
7. ability to use numerical models as a tool to investigate stress, stability and failure around excavations;
8. appreciation of the limitations of numerical models when applied to stress and strain and failure.
9. an ability to design and conduct laboratory tests to characterise rock properties;
10. an ability to critically use rock mass classification schemes;
11. an ability to assess stability for surface and underground structures;
12. an exposure to a variety of different types of underground excavations and designs;
13. an appreciation of practical rock engineering including excavation and tunnelling methods and tunnel support methods.

Skills learning outcome
On successful completion of the module students will have demonstrated the following skills learning outcomes:

SLO1. The ability to apply problem-solving skills to geotechnical problems using technical knowledge and understanding
SLO2. The ability to use a numerical modelling tool to investigate basic geotechnical problems while understanding their limitations and complexities.
SLO3. Critical analysis of data, methodologies, numerical tools, and an ability to work with incomplete and uncertain information.
SLO4. The ability to collaborate as part of a diverse team and understand its benefits in solving large problems


Details of the syllabus will be provided on the Minerva organisation (or equivalent) for the module

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours207.00
Total Contact hours93.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)300.00

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Weekly - in person practicals with individual feedback
(problem solving and numerical modelling practicals – linked to the weekly lectures)
Weekly - in-class discussions in lectures
Group Tutorials in Cavern Design project
Labwork sessions

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)30.00

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

Exam typeExam duration% of formal assessment
Standard exam (closed essays, MCQs etc) (S2)3 hr 00 mins70.00
Total percentage (Assessment Exams)70.00

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: 24/04/2024


Browse Other Catalogues

Errors, omissions, failed links etc should be notified to the Catalogue Team.PROD

© Copyright Leeds 2019