This course provides an elementary introduction to Geotechnical Engineering, and provides the basic mechanics necessary for the detailed study of Geotechnical Engineering. This course aims to provide an understanding of: the nature of soils as engineering materials; common soil classification schemes; the importance of water in the soil and the effects of water movement; methods of predicting soil settlements, the stress-strain-strength response of soils, earth pressures, stability analysis, and bearing capacity of the ground.

Outcomes: Give an engineering classification of any piece of soil, and on this basis predict how it will perform as an engineering material. Calculate the settlements, and rates of settlement, under structures of various shapes and sizes. Explain the advantages and limitations of the different methods of settlement calculation. Determine the strength parameters appropriate to a range of stability problems, and understand the difference between total and effective stress approaches. Understand the principle of effective stress, and be able to apply this to calculate the stresses causing soil deformation. Calculate quantities of water flowing through the ground, and understand the effects that water flow has on the soil.


The course will cover the following topics:

  • introduction and significance of Soil Mechanics
  • field and laboratory investigations and determination of physical properties of soils
  • soil modelling. Critical State Soil Mechanics (CSSM)
  • stresses and deformations in ground
  • pore pressures and effective stress principle
  • ground water flow and hydraulic forces
  • nonlinear and time dependent settlements in the ground
  • hydrodynamic and viscosity consolidation
  • slope stability analysis
  • lateral earth pressures (in-situ, active and passive)
  • bearing capacity of shallow and deep foundations



  • F. Craig, Soil Mechanics, London: Chapman & Hall, 2004.
  • Budhu, Soil Mechanics and Foundations, Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons, 2011.
  • N. Smith, Ian G. N. Smith, Elements of Soil Mechanics, Cambridge: Blackwell Science, 1998.