Geotechnical Engineering (CIVL3411)


The objectives of this unit are to provide an understanding of the factors influencing soil strength, and to give practice in the application of this understanding by exploring the stability of slopes, retaining walls and foundations. At the end of this unit students will be able to: determine the strength parameters appropriate to a range of stability problems, and understand the difference between total and effective stress approaches; evaluate strength parameters from laboratory data; critically analyse foundation stability and slope stability problems; use spreadsheets to perform parametric studies and produce design charts for simple geotechnical design problems; and communicate the results of experiments and analyses using written methods appropriate for professional geotechnical engineers. The syllabus comprises; methods of analysis for gravity and sheet pile retaining walls; reinforced soil; slope stability, including modes of failure, analysis and computer methods; bearing capacity of shallow foundations under general loading, and axial and lateral capacities of deep pile foundations; the mechanical behaviour of sands and clays; and Critical State models.

Our courses that offer this unit of study

Further unit of study information


Lecture 4 hrs/week; Tutorial 2 hrs/week.


Through semester assessment (45%) Final Exam (55%)

Faculty/department permission required?


Unit of study rules

Prerequisites and assumed knowledge


Study this unit outside a degree

Non-award/non-degree study

If you wish to undertake one or more units of study (subjects) for your own interest but not towards a degree, you may enrol in single units as a non-award student.

Cross-institutional study

If you are from another Australian tertiary institution you may be permitted to underake cross-institutional study in one or more units of study at the University of Sydney.