ENCI438-24S1 (C) Semester One 2024

Introduction to Structural Earthquake Engineering

15 points

Start Date: Monday, 19 February 2024
End Date: Sunday, 23 June 2024
Withdrawal Dates
Last Day to withdraw from this course:
  • Without financial penalty (full fee refund): Sunday, 3 March 2024
  • Without academic penalty (including no fee refund): Sunday, 12 May 2024


This course introduces analytical methods and design concepts in structural earthquake engineering. The course covers fundamentals of seismic hazard and seismic demands on typical structures and components, as well as key concepts and techniques used to analyse, design, and understand the behaviour of structures under earthquake loads.

This course introduces emerging civil engineers to analysis and design concepts in structural earthquake engineering. The aim is to provide the fundamentals of seismic hazard and seismic demands on typical structures and structural components, as well as an introduction to key concepts and techniques used to analyse, design, and understand the behaviour of structures under earthquake demands.

Learning Outcomes

  • At the conclusion of this course you should be able to:

  • Explain the overall seismic design philosophy for structures, including key concepts dictating the choice of design seismic hazard at a site. (WA graduate attributes: WA6), (UC graduate attributes: EIE2, EIE3, GA1, GA2, CE3)
  • Apply the equivalent-lateral-force method for the design of SDOF and MDOF systems.(WA graduate attributes: WA1, WA3), (UC graduate attributes: EIE3)
  • Apply capacity-design principles to determine the strength hierarchy of different members in an overall structural system; (WA graduate attributes: WA2), (UC graduate attributes: EIE3)
  • Relate local and global ductility demands and assess the ductility capacity of a structural system; (WA graduate attributes: WA1, WA2), (UC grad. attributes: EIE3)
  • Calculate MDOF system response using modal response spectrum analysis concepts; (WA1, WA3, WA5), (UC graduate attributes: EIE3)
  • Assess response of a typical building structure via “push-over” analysis and use hand calculations to confirm the adequacy of computer-based structural analyses; (WA1, WA3, WA5)
  •       Critically evaluate key aspects of the nonlinear behaviour of MDOF systems, including computational concerns, soil-structure interaction effects, and other concepts. ) (WA1, WA3, WA5), (UC graduate attributes: EIE3)
  • Apply simplified methods to analyse and design floor diaphragms for earthquake demands; (WA1, WA3, WA5), (UC graduate attributes: EIE3)
  • Recognize the need for, and have the ability to engage in independent and life-long learning in the field of structural earthquake engineering (WA12)




Timetable 2024

Students must attend one activity from each section.

Lecture A
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Monday 12:00 - 13:00 E5 Lecture Theatre
19 Feb - 31 Mar
22 Apr - 2 Jun
Lecture B
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Friday 12:00 - 13:00 E7 Lecture Theatre
19 Feb - 24 Mar
22 Apr - 2 Jun
Lecture C
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Wednesday 15:00 - 16:00 E9 Lecture Theatre
19 Feb - 31 Mar
22 Apr - 2 Jun
Lecture D
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Thursday 15:00 - 16:00 E8 Lecture Theatre
25 Mar - 31 Mar
Computer Lab A
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Thursday 16:00 - 18:00 Rata 342 CAD Lab (22/2-28/3, 2/5-30/5)
Rata 216 CAD Lab (22/2-28/3, 2/5-30/5)
19 Feb - 31 Mar
29 Apr - 2 Jun

Examinations, Quizzes and Formal Tests

Test A
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Wednesday 19:00 - 21:00 Ernest Rutherford 140
25 Mar - 31 Mar
02 Wednesday 19:00 - 21:00 E16 Lecture Theatre
25 Mar - 31 Mar
03 Wednesday 19:00 - 21:00 Meremere 526
25 Mar - 31 Mar
04 Wednesday 19:00 - 21:00 Ernest Rutherford 225
25 Mar - 31 Mar

Course Coordinator / Lecturer

Tim Sullivan


Santiago Pujol Llano


Assessment Due Date Percentage  Description
Assignment 1 4% Learning Objecrtive 2
Assignment 2 3% Learning Objective: 2, 3
Assignment 3 3% Learning Objectives 4, 9
Assignment 4, 5 10% Learning Objecives: 5, 6, 7, 8
final exam 40% Learning Objecrtive 5, 6, 7, 8
Test 40% Learning Objecrtive 1, 2, 3, -4

The core material covered in the course will be presented in three lectures each week. Students are expected to jot down key concepts and ideas as they are discussed, or illustrated with diagrams and graphs. Examples and problems will be used to demonstrate techniques and concepts, but students are expected to put in time outside lectures to refine their understanding through revision and additional reading, and to develop problem-solving skills by working through illustrative problems.

The lecture material is supported by tutorials. These tutorials provide an excellent opportunity to develop problem-solving skills in a supportive environment. Students are expected to take full advantage of these sessions. A rough guide to the amount of time students should be putting into the various parts of this course is listed as follows:

Contact Hours
Lectures 36 hours
Tutorials 24 hours
Total 60 hours
Independent Study
Lecture review and reading 24 hours
Tutorial prep, lab and homework 30 hours
Test and exam preparation 36 hours
Total 90 hours

Note: This is an indication of average expected workload. Actual time spent by students may vary widely.

Any student who has been impaired by significant exceptional and/or unforeseeable circumstances that have prevented them from completing any major assessment items, or that have impaired their performance such that the results are not representative of their true level of mastery of the course material, may apply for special consideration through the formal university process. The applicability and academic remedy/action associated with the special consideration process is listed for each assessment item below. Please refer to the University Special Consideration Regulations and Special Consideration Policies and Procedures documents for more information on the acceptable grounds for special consideration and the application process.

Special Consideration for Assignments
An extension will be granted for evidence-supported requests. Extensions will typically be for up to one week, but the duration will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Students seeking an extension must contact the course coordinator as soon as possible with evidence of their situation.

Special Consideration for Midterm Tests
Students with valid approved reasons for special consideration will be offered an equivalent alternative test that will replace their original test mark. This test will likely be held in the first week of Term 2 at a date to be advised by the course coordinator.

Special Consideration for Final Exam
Serious/Severe Impact: Students will be offered an equivalent alternative exam that will replace their original exam mark. This exam will be held in the week immediately following the exam period.

Moderate Impact: A derived mark based on performance relative to the class on all assessment items will apply.

Note: All communication associated with the arrangement of equivalent alternative tests/exams will be conducted using official UC email accounts. The offer to sit an alternative assessment will come with a list of potential dates/times. Students will have a clearly specified amount of time to respond to the offer to sit the alternative assessment and accept one of the listed dates/times. If the offer is declined or no response is received in the specified time frame, the original assessment mark will be used to compute the course grade.

Textbooks / Resources

Recommended Reading

Moehle, Jack P; Seismic design of reinforced concrete buildings ; McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.

New Zealand Concrete Society; Cement & Concrete Association of New Zealand; Examples of concrete structural design to New Zealand Standard 3101 ; Cement & Concrete Association of New Zealand, 1998.

Priestley, M. J. N. , Calvi, G. M., Kowalsky, Mervyn J; Displacement-based seismic design of structures ; IUSS Press, 2007.

Pujol, Santiago , Irfanoglu, Ayhan, Puranam, Aishwarya; Drift-driven design of buildings : Mete Sozen's works on earthquake engineering ; First edition; CRC Press, 2022.

The material presented in lectures will form the main basis for learning. However, students are also encouraged to read material that will be posted on the course LEARN page as well as the texts/reading listed below.

Additional Course Outline Information


The course is delivered in six modules as shown below. The indicative number of lectures for each module is shown alongside the module heading.

Module 1: Seismic hazard (3 lectures)
• Earthquake demands and impacts: faulting, magnitude, ground motion parameters, impacts
• Response spectrum concept and potential applications
• Seismic hazard analysis concept and seismic hazard curves
• Elastic Design Spectrum
• Site effects, basin effects, and geotechnical considerations

Module 2: Seismic demand on structures (3 lectures)
• Performance objectives and seismic design philosophy
• Importance of basic dynamic characteristics (period damping)
• Importance of ductility on response spectrum demands
• R-mu-T concept and application
• Equivalent lateral force method for SDOF systems
• The equivalent lateral force method – to compute design actions for SDOF systems

Module 3: Simple seismic analysis and design of MDOF structures (12 lectures)
• Different types of lateral-load resisting systems – and intended inelastic behaviour
• Equivalent-lateral-force method for MDOF systems
• Distribution of design base-shear in multi-storey buildings
• Calculation of design force in lateral-load resisting components
• Capacity design
• Limitations of force-based design
• Relating local and global ductility and deformation demands.
• Introduction to displacement-based design
• Demands on parts and components
• The need for life-long learning in structural earthquake engineering

Module 4: Fundamentals of MDOF dynamic response (4 lectures)
• Equation of motion
• Modal (eigenvalue) analysis
• Modal response spectrum analysis
• Modal combination rules (SRSS and CQC)

Module 5: Nonlinear dynamic behaviour of MDOF systems (10 lectures)
• Development of plasticity in steel and RC sections
• Limit analysis (or “push-over” concept/assessment) of structural systems
• Checking analysis results with hand calculations
• Potential for NLTH analyses to assess non-linear dynamic behaviour of structures
• Re-examining importance of higher-mode effects in MDOF buildings (relevance for capacity design)
• Behaviour of buildings with vertical eccentricities.
• Behaviour of buildings with in-plan eccentricities.
• Impact of P-delta effects on the dynamic response of structures
• Impact of soil-structure interaction on response of buildings
• Uncertainties in non-linear dynamic behaviour (modelling issues, blind prediction results)

Module 6: Floor diaphragm analysis and design (4 lectures)
• Types of floor systems
• Force demands on diaphragms (inertia versus compatibility forces)
• Deformation demands on floor systems
• Strut and tie method

Course communication

Announcements about the course content and organisation will be made in class and on LEARN. Students can contact the course coordinator via email with general queries. If there are specific questions related to the homework assignments, students can contact the teaching assistants directly via email. If students have technical questions about the material being presented in class, please ask in or directly after class, or email the lecturer with query.

Indicative Fees

Domestic fee $1,197.00

International fee $6,000.00

* All fees are inclusive of NZ GST or any equivalent overseas tax, and do not include any programme level discount or additional course-related expenses.

For further information see Civil and Natural Resources Engineering .

All ENCI438 Occurrences

  • ENCI438-24S1 (C) Semester One 2024