72781 - Earthquake Engineering

Academic Year 2023/2024

  • Teaching Mode: Traditional lectures
  • Campus: Bologna
  • Corso: Second cycle degree programme (LM) in Civil Engineering (cod. 8895)

Learning outcomes

In the course, the student will know the main aspects of earthquake engineering, and in particular: seismology and hazard, behaviour of structures under earthquake action, with elastic and inelastic behaviour, definition of the seismic action, design methods according to the most important Codes and regulations, detailing. The methods will be described with reference to reinforced concrete, steel and masonry structures.

Course contents


A prior knowledge and understanding of:

  • structural mechanics;
  • structural analysis;
  • structural design of reinforced concrete structures;
  • structural analysis of frame structures with FEM;

are required to attend this course. These topics are covered in the following courses: Advanced Design of Structures and Advanced Structural Mechanics. A background on the Finite Element method is also recommended. This latter is provided by the Numerical Methods course. Fluent spoken and written English is a necessary pre-requisite: all lectures, tutorials, and all reference documents will be in English.



  • Earth structure, tectonics, faults, faulting mechanisms, earthquake recurrence, elastic rebound theory, magnitude measures, earthquake energy.
  • Accelerograms: recording, properties, basic intensity measures. Soil and topographic effects.


  • Un-damped free vibrations;
  • Damped free vibrations;
  • Forced vibrations;
  • Response to a base acceleration. Time-stepping procedures (Newmark method etc.).
  • Elastoplastic SDOF systems.


  • Acceleration, displacement, velocity, pseudo-acceleration and pseudo-velocity response spectra;
  • Non-linear response spectra: constant strength-reduction-factor spectra, and constant ductility spectra.
  • Ductility- and strength-based design.


  • Seismic hazard
  • Site response
  • Uniform hazard spectra
  • Seismic Risk


  • Mass, stiffness and damping matrixes;
  • Modal analysis of plane structures;
  • Static condensation;
  • Free vibration;
  • Response to ground acceleration;
  • Maximum response analysis (response spectra analysis).
  • Damping models;
  • Modal combination rules: SRSS, CQC;
  • Analysis of 3D structures. Effects of regularity.


  • Performance based design: Definition of limit states and performance levels.
  • Design response spectra: behaviour factor;
  • Linear analysis methods;
  • Definition of masses and combination of seismic effects with the effects of other loads;
  • Capacity design fundamentals.


  • Ductility classes;
  • Capacity design of frame structures;
  • Interaction between walls and frames;
  • Design of ductile walls.
8. NONLINEAR ANALYSIS (introduction)
  • Nonlinear beam-column models;
  • Nonlinear static analysis;
  • Nonlinear dynamic analysis.


Refenrence books

  1. Steven L. Kramer, Geotechnical Earthquake Engineering
  2. C.A. Chopra, Dynamics of Structures: Theory and Applications to Earthquake Engineering
  3. Penelis, G.G. and Kappos, A.J., Earthquake-resistant Concrete Structures
  4. Thomas Paulay and M. J. N. Priestley, Seismic Design of Reinforced Concrete and Masonry Buildings
  5. EN 1998-1 Eurocode 8: Design of structures for earthquake resistance - Part 1 : General rules, seismic actions and rules for buildings. 

All the presentations used during the lectures are available on IOL. Sample exam questions are available as well.

Teaching methods

Lectures with the support blackboard and powerpoint presentations. Homework assignments, group-work.

Assessment methods

Achievements will be assessed by means of two homework assignments and a final written examination. They are based on an analytical assessment of the learning outcomes described above, as described in the following.

Homework assignment #1 aims at evaluating the following skills:

  • Defining mass, damping, and stiffness matrixes for 2D and 3D structures;
  • Defining elastic and design spectra according to Eurocode 8 and to the Italian seismic design code;
  • Using modal analysis to compute the response of 2D and 3D structures with base ground-motions.

Homework assignment #2 aims at evaluating the following skills:

  • Designing reinforced concrete frame structures according to Eurocode 8.

Both the homework assignments are mandatory and must be submitted in order to take the final examination. Students can either work alone or in groups with no more than three members.

The written examination is closed-book ad aims at evaluating the knowledge and critical understanding of the key concepts of the course. It is based on either two or three open questions. The duration spans from 90 to 120 min., depending on the questions.

The final grade will be computed as follows: 50% homework + 50% oral examination

In order to obtain a passing grade, students are required to demonstrate a knowledge of the key concepts of the subjects, some ability for critical application, and a comprehensible use of technical language. A failing grade will be awarded if students show knowledge gaps in key-concepts of the subject, inappropriate use of language, and/or logic failures in the analysis of the subject.


Teaching tools

Blackboard and powerpoint presentations. For homework, educational versions of softwares for structural analysis. Instructional shaking table.

Office hours

See the website of Nicola Buratti


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This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.