Academic Year 2023/2024

  • Moduli: Guido Gottardi (Modulo 1) Alessio Mentani (Modulo 2)
  • Teaching Mode: Traditional lectures (Modulo 1) Traditional lectures (Modulo 2)
  • Campus: Bologna
  • Corso: Second cycle degree programme (LM) in Civil Engineering (cod. 8895)

    Also valid for Second cycle degree programme (LM) in Civil Engineering (cod. 0930)

Learning outcomes

Having successfully completed this module, students will be able to: • understand the different soil-structure mechanisms; • use alternative design strategies for shallow and deep foundations; • evaluate earth pressures on retaining walls; • deal with the different modes of failure of rigid and flexible retaining structures; • understand the basic features and assumptions of some well-established methods of analysis; • carry out analyses using limit equilibrium methods and limit analysis; • understand use and implications of numerical approaches such as FDM and FEM; • carry out geotechnical calculations for the design of foundations and of embedded soil retaining structures.

Course contents


Prior required knowledge is considered to be acquired by the accomplishment of the Geotechnical Engineering course.

Fluent spoken and written English is a necessary pre-requisite: all lectures and tutorials, as well as all study material will be in English.

Course contents

The course aims at developing the students' knowledge of geotechnical engineering. It explores the application of soil mechanics principles to the geotechnical design of foundation systems and retaining walls.

Design of shallow foundations. Bearing capacity of shallow foundations under general loading in homogeneous soil. Solutions for the design in layered soils. Settlement analysis using theoretical approaches and in-situ test interpretations.

Design of pile foundations. Pile types. Axial capacity of single pile and piles subjected to horizontal loads. Settlement and deformation of piles, load-transfer curve methods. Capacity and displacements of pile groups. Pile testing.

Design of retaining structures. Types of earth retaining structures and modes of failure. Limiting earth pressure from limit analysis. Stability analysis of rigid and flexible retaining structures. Retaining wall deflections and associated soil movements. Mechanical stabilised earth walls.

Geotechnical design using international codes. The geotechnical design of the structures presented in the course are developed in accordance to the typical International Standards.


Lecture notes

M. Budhu. Soil mechanics and foundations, 3rd edition. John Wiley & Sons, 2010.

K. Fleming, A. Weltman, M. Randolph, K. Elson. Piling Engineering, 3rd edition. Taylor & Francis, 2009.

A.J. Bond, B. Schuppener, G. Scarpelli, T.L.L. Orr. Eurocode 7: Geotechnical design worked examples. JRC Scientific and policy reports, 2013.

Teaching methods

The lectures are presented with the aid of slides and integrated with demonstrations at the board. Practical examples are illustrated during the course, also with applications of numerical methods.

Lectures and/or seminars by invited foreign professors can be included.

Assessment methods

Each student is in charge of preparing a technical report on the geotechnical design of a structure system developed during the course. The report is discussed in the final oral exam, together with an assessment of the competences acquired during the course.

Higher grades will be awarded to students who can demonstrate an organic understanding of the subject, a capacity of presenting the course contents in a clear and concise way and an ability of critically discussing the results achieved. To obtain a passing grade, students are required to show their knowledge of at least the key concepts of the subject, some ability for their critical application and a correct use of technical language. A failing grade will be awarded if the student shows knowledge gaps in key-concepts of the subject, inappropriate use of language, and/or logic failures in the analysis of the subject.

Office hours

See the website of Guido Gottardi

See the website of Alessio Mentani


Industry, innovation and infrastructure

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