72766 - Geotechnical Engineering M

Course Unit Page

Academic Year 2018/2019

Learning outcomes

The course aims at providing advanced knowledge of soil mechanics, with special emphasis on its applications to main geotechnical aspects of civil engineering structures.

Course contents

Requirements/Prior knowledge

Prior knowledge of basic Soil Mechanics concepts is required to successfully attend this course.

Lectures and tutorials will be given in Italian. Accordingly,fluent spoken and written Italian is a necessary pre-requisite.


  • Fundamentals of soil mechanics (short review). Soils as multiphase systems. Basic continuum mechanics applied to soils. General field equations for porous media. Water in soils: permeability and seepage. Consolidation theory. Shear strength of soils. Stress-strain behaviour of cyclically loaded soils: cyclic strength, strength after cyclic loading, liquefaction and cyclic mobility phenomena. Stress paths. Short and long term stability analyses. Selection of appropriate soil parameters in stability analyses. 
  • Geotechnical investigations. General criteria for programming site investigations. In-situ testing: Cone Penetration Test (CPT), Standard Penetration Test (SPT), Flat Dilatometer Test (DMT), Shear Vane Test, Plate Bearing Test. Evaluation of cyclic liquefaction potential using the cone penetration test.
  •  Plastic failure analysis. The upper bound theorem and lower bound theorem. Limit Analysis.
  •  Shallow foundations. Ultimate bearing capacity and settlement calculation.
  •  Pile foundations. Types of piles and their structural characteristics. Bearing capacity of piles. Pile load tests. Pile groups.
  •  Lateral earth pressure and earth-retaining structures. Types of retaining walls, lateral earth pressure, proportioning retaining walls, stability checks. Sheet pile walls: cantilever sheet pile walls and anchored sheet pile walls. Criteria for design and stability analysis.
  •  Fundamentals of design using NTC 2008.


C. Viggiani. “Fondazioni”, Hevelius, 1999.

R. Lancellotta & J. Calavera. “Fondazioni”, McGraw Hill, Italia, 1999.

R. Lancellotta, D. Costanzo, S. Foti. "Progettazione Geotecnica secondo l'Eurocodice 7 (UNI EN 1997) e le Norme Tecniche per le Costruzioni (NTC 2008)", Hoepli, 2011.

R. Lancellotta. "Geotecnica. 4a Edizione", Zanichelli, 2012.

R. Berardi. "Fondamenti di Geotecnica", 3rd Edition, Città Studi, 2017.

P. Colombo & F. Colleselli. “Elementi di Geotecnica”, Zanichelli, 2004.

J.A. Knappett & R.F. Craig. "Craig's Soil Mechanics", Spon Press, 2012

Further suggested textbooks:

C. Tamagnini. “Analisi Limite in Ingegneria Geotecnica”, Hevelius Edizioni, 2005.

R. Nova. "Meccanica delle Costruzioni Geotecniche", Città Studi Edizioni, 2008.

S.L. Kramer. "Geotechnical Earthquake Engineering", Prentice Hall, 1996

T. Crespellani, J. Facciorusso. "Dinamica dei terreni per le applicazioni sismiche", Dario Flaccovio Editore, 2010.

J.E. Bowles. “Foundation Analysis and Design”, McGraw-Hill, 1995.

Teaching methods

Lectures, supported by example problems. During tutorial sessions, typical exercises proposed in the written exam are shown.  

Assessment methods

The examination at the end of the course aims at assessing the achievement of the following objectives:
• good understanding of the mechanical behaviour of soils under both static and dynamic loading conditions;

• awareness of the application of soil mechanics principles to geotechnical engineering problems;

• knowledge of the main design and verification methods used in Geotechnical Engineering.

The assessment is based on a mandatory written exam in conjunction with an optional oral exam. The written exam, lasting 75 minutes, consists of two questions on the theoretical topics covered in the course. Simple application problems may be also part of the written exam. The evaluation takes into account relevance, correctness, accuracy, completeness and clarity of the answers, as well as use of appropriate technical language.

Examples of the questions included in the written tests of the last years can be downloaded from the online platform https://iol.unibo.it/. Access is limited to students of the Bologna University having this course in their study plan. Full information about the file downloading are provided at the beginning of the course.

After passing the written exam (min 18/30), students are free to decide whether to take the oral exam or register the written examination result. After the date of the oral exam, the validity of the written exam will expired. 

Before sitting for either the written or oral exams, students must register using the online procedure available at https://almaesami.unibo.it. 

Teaching tools

Tablet pc, slide projector and blackbord.

Powerpoint presentations of lectures can be downloaded in pdf format from the online platform https://iol.unibo.it. Access to files is limited to students of the University of Bologna. Details about the procedure for file downloading are provided at the beginning of the course.


Office hours

See the website of Laura Tonni