ENCN253-22S2 (C) Semester Two 2022

Soil Mechanics

15 points

Start Date: Monday, 18 July 2022
End Date: Sunday, 13 November 2022
Withdrawal Dates
Last Day to withdraw from this course:
  • Without financial penalty (full fee refund): Sunday, 31 July 2022
  • Without academic penalty (including no fee refund): Sunday, 2 October 2022


Properties and behaviour of rocks. Formation, properties and classification of soils. Strength and stiffness of soils. Applications to slopes, retaining walls, and site characterisation.

This course provides an introduction to the subject of soil mechanics, which is the basis for the use of soils as an engineering material in geotechnical engineering.  In particular, this course covers the geologic origin of soils, the characterisation of soil for engineering purposes, the influence of groundwater, strength under drained conditions, and the compression of soil.

Learning Outcomes

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

  • Interpret data and measurements from standard lab tests for the purpose of soil characterisation and classification
  • Estimate total and effective stresses for 1 dimensional soil profiles.
  • Apply analytical methods to the flow of water through the ground to calculate flow rates, heads and pore pressures for two dimensional flow.
  • Estimate model parameters for the one-dimensional compression of soils, and apply this model to estimate settlements due to changes in soil loading.
  • Describe the shear stress – shear strain behaviour of soils under drained conditions, and estimate the drained shear strength for different soil states.
  • Describe the geological and geomorphological processes responsible for the formation of soils, and apply this knowledge to develop a ground model.


Subject to approval of the Dean of Engineering and Forestry


ENCI252, ENCI271

Course Coordinator

Robin Lee


Gabriele Chiaro and Katherine Yates

Lab Technician

Siale Faitotonu


Assessment Due Date Percentage 
Assignments (x4) 20%
final exam 65%
Labs (x3) 15%

• To pass this course, you must achieve 40% in the final examination.
• All assignments are to be completed individually.
• Laboratory reports are due by 5pm, 1 week following the laboratory.
• Assignment deadlines will be confirmed at the start of the course.  
• Late submissions will attract a penalty of 10% per day. Please contact the lecturer as soon as possible if you will be unable to submit an assignment by the deadline due to extraordinary personal circumstances or illness.
• Completed assignments and laboratory reports should be submitted electronically through the LEARN site.  Please pay attention to any naming conventions requested by the lecturer or noted on the submission page (especially in the case of group laboratory reports).
• All submissions should contain your name and student number on the front page, and at the top of each page.
• Students are not permitted to contact the markers. Should you wish to discuss the marking of a piece of coursework, please contact the Course Coordinator.

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.

Assignments or Laboratory Reports

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 and/or relevant lecturer as soon as possible with evidence of their situation, and preferably before the due date.


Students will be offered an equivalent alternative exam that will replace their original exam mark. This exam will be scheduled for an appropriate time following the exam period.

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, the original assessment mark will be used to compute the course grade. Failure to respond in the specified time frame will be interpreted as a declined offer.

Textbooks / Resources

Recommended Reading

Holtz, R. D. , Kovacs, William D; An introduction to geotechnical engineering ; Prentice-Hall, 1981.

Powrie, William; Soil Mechanics: concepts and applications ; 3rd; CRC Press/Taylor & Francis, 2014.

Materials used during the lectures will be made available to you through the course page on LEARN.  The files will be posted to LEARN in advance of the lecture (typically at least one day before the lecture is given).  Paper copies of the lecture materials may be given to you by the lecturer.

Assignments, tutorial questions and laboratory instructions will be posted on the LEARN page.  Solutions for the assignments will be posted to LEARN shortly after the submission date.

While the course is self-contained, the library has a number of excellent textbooks which will be helpful for this course, and a limited number of copies are available from the library. Please note that the Powrie textbook is available as an e-book and can be downloaded through the library website.

Additional Course Outline Information


If hard copies of the assignments are requested by the lecturer, they should be submitted to the drop box marked "ENCN 253" located on the ground floor of the Engineering CORE building. If the lecturer requests an electronic submission, then assignments should be submitted through the LEARN website.  In the case of electronic submission, students must follow the naming convention and file format specified by the lecturer.

Official departmental coversheets should be used for all submissions. Assignments submitted without a coversheet will receive a mark of zero.

Indicative Fees

Domestic fee $1,002.00

International fee $5,625.00

* 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 ENCN253 Occurrences

  • ENCN253-22S2 (C) Semester Two 2022