ENCN353-22S1 (C) Semester One 2022

Geotechnical Engineering

15 points

Start Date: Monday, 21 February 2022
End Date: Sunday, 26 June 2022
Withdrawal Dates
Last Day to withdraw from this course:
  • Without financial penalty (full fee refund): Sunday, 6 March 2022
  • Without academic penalty (including no fee refund): Sunday, 15 May 2022


Mohr's circle; time-dependent soil behaviour; settlement; capacity and failure of foundations; field investigations; slope stability; earth pressure theories and retaining structures.

This second course in geomechanics focuses primarily on the analysis of common geo-structures and foundations. It makes use of the soil mechanics concepts and calculations learned in ENCN 253 and familiarity with this material is assumed. Generally speaking, the course content has been developed on the assumption that ideas and understanding, as opposed to codes or rote-learned formulae, are the backbone of successful engineering – our aim is to understand the behaviour of soil, and then put this understanding to work to solve practical engineering problems and make decisions.

Learning Outcomes

  • The course is divided into eight modules of roughly equal weight and duration:

  • Undrained strength
  • Shallow foundations – ultimate capacity and failure
  • Shallow foundations – serviceability and settlement
  • Consolidation and related settlement
  • In situ testing and site investigation
  • Deep foundations
  • Slope stability
  • Retaining walls

    By the end of this course you should be able to:
    - Analyse the stability of common geotechnical structures and foundations using conventional methods,
    - Compare various in situ and lab-based testing methods for different soil types and scenarios, and interpret typical soil test data,
    - Describe and analyse the deformation of soil using effective stress-based principles and appropriate idealisations of soil behaviour,
    - Describe conventional methods of design for SLS and ULS for geo-structures, and how to use factors of safety.




Timetable Note

ENCN353 is taught as a conventional single-semester course, comprising two lectures (4 hours) per week, a weekly tutorial, two lab activities and two assignments. The lectures are used to convey the fundamental concepts and equations; the tutorials provide opportunities for examples on how to apply the theory and the equations learned; the labs help to confirm these concepts and better understand soil behaviour; and the assignment are structured to challenge the students to apply the theories to solve engineering problems.

Course notes: Student versions of the course notes (which may contain gaps to be filled in during the lectures) will be made available on Learn prior to the start of each new module. In addition, paper copies of each module will be handed out in class at the beginning of each new module. Master versions of the notes (will all gaps filled in) will not be made available. However, lecture recordings will be available. Therefore, if you miss a lecture it is your responsibility to catch up on the notes from a classmate or using the lecture recordings.

Tutorial material: Tutorial material will sometimes be made available on Learn, depending on the format of the tutorial. You will get the most benefit from tutorials if actually you will attend them. We will often go over past exams and assignment questions.

Assignments: Assignment question sheets will be made available on Learn at around the same time they are hand out in the class. Assignment solutions will be posted on Learn shortly after the submission date. You should make copies/scans of all your assignments prior to submitting them for assessment.

Course Coordinator / Lecturer

Mark Stringer

Lab Technician

Siale Faitotonu

Technical questions: For technical questions related to course content (lectures and tutorial material, assignment questions etc.) please speak to the lecturer for the relevant module during their scheduled office hours or tutorial sessions. In general, technical questions will not be answered by email as there is potential for confusion. Instead, please arrange to speak to the lecturer in person.

Administrative and other queries: Please direct any other administrative questions to the Course Coordinator, Dr Gabriele Chiaro.


Assessment Due Date Percentage 
End-semester exam 70%
Assignment 1 10%
Assignment 10%
lab 1 5%
Laboratory 2 5%

TO PASS: To pass both the following conditions must be fulfilled:

• A minimum 50/100 marks must be achieved in the course (summing up the marks of the final exam, assignments and lab reports).
• A minimum mark of 40% must be achieved in the end-semester exam in order to pass the course. All modules from the course are examinable.

Textbooks / Resources

Recommended Reading

Parry, R. H. G; Mohr circles, stress paths, and geotechnics ; 2nd ed; Spon Press, 2003.

Powrie, William; Soil mechanics :concepts and applications ; 2nd ed; Spon Press, 2004 (Encouraged to purchase).

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 ENCN353 Occurrences

  • ENCN353-22S1 (C) Semester One 2022