Academic Year 2023/2024

  • Docente: Serena Ceola
  • Credits: 6
  • SSD: ICAR/02
  • Language: English
  • Teaching Mode: Traditional lectures
  • Campus: Bologna
  • Corso: Second cycle degree programme (LM) in Civil Engineering (cod. 8895)

    Also valid for Second cycle degree programme (LM) in Environmental Engineering (cod. 8894)

Learning outcomes

The course provides advanced theoretical basis, knowledge of the tools and applied skills for the design of large dams, with particular emphasis on the estimation of the forcings, the design of dam's hydraulic facilities, the prevention and detection of leakage, and the design of large-scale power plants. Student gain expertise on the hydraulic and management challenges of large-scale infrastructures and their environmental impact. Case studies related to recently built large scale dams are considered and provide the way forward through the learning of the concepts.

Course contents

Requirements/Prior knowledge

A prior knowledge and understanding of basic hydraulics and hydrology is required to attend with profit this course. Advanced Hydrosystem Engineering (or any similar courses about Water Supply and Urban Drainage) is a preferential pre-requisite.

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

Course content

Introduction to water resources engineering: design approaches; water availability and consumption; water-control and water-use systems; water use; systems of unit; sustainability (2 hours)

Review of hydrologic processes: hydrologic cycle; world water distribution; hydrologic balance; rainfall (measurement, statistics, spatial interpolation, distribution, regimes); climatic variability; runoff (measurement, distribution, regimes); urban areas (3 hours)

Water distribution systems; review of principles of fluid mechanics: physical properties of water; mass and energy conservation; frictional and fitting losses; energy and hydraulic grade lines. Exercises (4 hours)

Pumps: types of pumps; performance of pumps (performance curves and specific speed); pump selection (characteristic and system curves); operating point; cavitation and limits on pump location; multiple pump systems. Exercises (7 hours)

Dams and reservoirs: principal parts of a dam; types of dams; additional classification of dams; types of dam spillways; reservoir storage; sediment accumulation. Exercises (3 hours)

Gravity dam design: general design considerations; loads; stability analysis. Exercises (3 hours)

Examples of dams: Three Gorges Dam, Bilancino Dam, Montedoglio dam (3 hours)

Dam failure: large dams and failure; notable dam failures across the globe; basics of dam breaking modeling; climate-induced failure of aging dams (8 hours)

Reservoir: determination of the design volume and exercises; management for irrigation & hydropower production and exercises (6 hours)

Water for Hydroelectric Generation: hydropower production and demand; types of hydropower plant; turbines; energy potential, flow-duration method). Exercises (9 hours)


Teaching material, including ppt, notes and scientific articles, and videos of each lesson are available on virtuale.unibo.it

For further readings:

  • Chin: Water-Resources Engineering
  • Mays: Water Resources Engineering, Wiley
  • Sowers: Earth and Rockfill dam engineering

Teaching methods

Theorical lessons (in presence/online) and computer-based exercises on key topics.

Lessons attendance is a key requisite to acquire a detailed knowledge. Students should attend all lectures or obtain the notes from their colleagues when absent.

Assessment methods

Achievements will be assessed by means of a written final examination. This is based on an analytical assessment of the "expected learning outcomes" described above. The exam is composed by:

  • 3 open questions

  • 2 exercises

To obtain a passing grade, students must demonstrate a knowledge of the key concepts of the subject and a comprehensible use of technical language.

Higher grades will be awarded to students who demonstrate an organic understanding of the subject and a good ability for critical application.

Failing grade will be awarded if the student shows knowledge gaps in key-concepts and logic failures in the analysis of the subject.

Teaching tools

Use of powerpoint and blackboard/tablet. Powerpoint presentations and videos of the lessons will be available on virtuale.unibo.it.

Office hours

See the website of Serena Ceola


Quality education Clean water and sanitation Sustainable cities

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