Module code: ENGM272

Module provider

Civil and Environmental Engineering

Module Leader

BHATTACHARYA S Prof (Civl Env Eng)

Number of Credits


ECT Credits



FHEQ Level 7

JACs code


Module cap (Maximum number of students)


Module Availability

Semester 2

Overall student workload

Independent Study Hours: 120

Lecture Hours: 33

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Coursework COURSEWORK 25
Examination EXAMINATION 75

Alternative Assessment


Prerequisites / Co-requisites

A knowledge of basic soil mechanics and structural mechanics to FHEQ Level 6.

Module overview

Civil engineers are often called on to design systems that will support large structures at depth or steep / vertical faces in soil. The former case will normally require large foundations, sometimes at depth whereas the latter may require an earth-retaining structure of some kind. Ground modifications techniques are often employed to improve the physical properties of ground before construction begins.  This module applies the basic principles of soil mechanics to the safe and sustainable design of large foundations and earth-retaining structures.

Module aims

awareness of modern earth-retaining structures and associated construction techniques

understanding of the failure mechanisms for earth-retaining structures

knowledge of design methods for some specific earth-retaining structures

understanding of some fundamental design issues through case studies and assignment work

understanding of some design and analysis issues for foundations (to provide an appreciation of the issues related to foundation construction)

knowledge and understanding of design and the need for site investigation 

an overview and broader understanding of ground improvement techniques including design methodologies  

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
Select an appropriate type of wall for a given earth retention requirement K
Identify relevant design limit states for an earth-retaining structur K
Carry out earth pressure calculations for gravity and embedded walls KCT
Design a braced excavation and estimate adjacent ground movements KCPT
Design a reinforced soil retaining wall KCPT
Consider sustainability issues relating to deep foundation and retaining wall design KP
Select foundation options for a specfic project and compare the advantages and limitations of different types of foundations KCPT
Select appropriate analysis methods to be used for foundation design KCPT
Identify appropriate soil testing, and interprete soil testing data to obtain the design parameters. KCPT
. Identify preliminary design requirements for ground improvement methods. T
Appreciate that changes to a retaining wall or foundation design require a reassessment of risks KP
Independent learning skills T
Oral & written communication T
Graphical presentation of data T
Synthesis of data T
3D spatial awareness T
Use of word processor, spreadsheet, drawings T
Critical thinking

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Module content

Indicative content includes:

Earth-Retaining Structures

wall selection
limit states, safety, and drainage conditions
reinforced soil walls
embedded walls
braced excavations
influence and control of groundwater
estimation of ground movements
practical design issues, sustainability and case histories

Deep Foundations

bearing capacity
settlement calculations 
types of pile foundations and the
method of construction
pile bearing capacity using the API Code and Eurocode
laterally loaded piles

Ground Improvement

improvement techniques
practical design issues, sustainability and case histories

Methods of Teaching / Learning

The learning and teaching strategy is designed to:

Build on students’ knowledge of geotechnical engineering and help them to apply it to the design and analysis of deep foundations and earth-retaining structures.  

The learning and teaching methods include:

combined lectures/problem-solving/software demonstration classes (3hrs per week for 11 weeks = 33hrs)
independent learning (reading, tutorials, using software, coursework assignments, and revision) (115hrs)
unseen written examination (closed book) (2hrs)


Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate

·         Knowledge and understanding of the principles of deep foundation and earth-retaining structure design (LOs 1-5) – assessed through a 2-hour unseen examination.

·         The ability to solve open-ended design problems using real data (LOs 3, 5)  - assessed through coursework assignments.

Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:

·         Foundation design coursework due Week 6 of Semester 2

·         Earth-retaining structure design coursework due Week 8 of Semester 2

·         Examination (2 hours, closed book)

Formative assessment and feedback

Feedback will be given on both coursework assignments, in the form of generic comments through SurreyLearn and more detailed and individualised feedback given on the marked assignments within the time allowed for marking coursework. Formative assessment will be through solving problems in class (and getting feedback on the correct solution there and then) and also through tackling tutorial sheets – for which feedback takes the form of full worked solutions posted on SurreyLearn after the student has had an opportunity to try the problems for him/herself.

Reading list


Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Civil Engineering MEng 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module
Structural Engineering MSc 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module
Bridge Engineering MSc 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module
Civil Engineering MSc 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module
Infrastructure Engineering and Management MSc 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module
Advanced Geotechnical Engineering MSc 2 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module

Please note that the information detailed within this record is accurate at the time of publishing and may be subject to change. This record contains information for the most up to date version of the programme / module for the 2017/8 academic year.