72765 - Geotechnical Engineering

Course Unit Page

Academic Year 2018/2019

Learning outcomes

The course is aimed at providing students with advanced knowledge of soil mechanics and geotechnical modelling, with special emphasis on their applications to the design of civil engineering structures. On successful completion of the course, the student will: know the characteristics and peculiarities of soil behaviour, be able to determine and compare physical and mechanical soil parameters, learn skills and develop methods for the design of main geotechnical structures.

Course contents


A prior knowledge and understanding of Continuum Mechanics, Hydraulics and Soil Mechanics is required to attend with profit this course. This knowledge is considered to be acquired after having passed the following undergraduate courses: Structural Mechanics, Hydraulics and Geotechnics.

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


Definition of the geotechnical model from laboratory and site investigations. Standard and advanced laboratory tests; stress and strain analysis of the experimental data; Critical State Soil Mechanics. Planning and executing in situ testing, result interpretation; fied monitoring. Geotechnical characterization; definition of the characteristic values of geotechnical parameters. Stress paths; drained and undrained conditions; total and effective stress analyses; limit equilibrium methods; plasticity and limit analysis.

Design of geotechnical works. Gravity retaining walls: criteria for design and stability analyses. Shallow foundations: bearing capacity and settlements; combined loading and stratified soil. Piled foundations: pile types and installation methods, design of single piles, load and integrity tests, lateral loads; pile groups and piled rafts. Slope stability: infinite slope and method of slices. Case studies and design problems.

In both parts of the course, the taught concepts are applied to practical problems through specific exercises.



Lecture notes.

M. BUDHU Soil Mechanics and Foundations. Ed. Wiley.

Teaching methods

The course is divided in two parts.

The first module is taught by Professor Michela Marchi.

The second module is taught by Professor Guido Gottardi.

Lectures by invited foreign professors can be included.

Assessment methods

Assessment is based on a final exam, which will assess the understanding of concepts covered in class, through theoretical questions and written numerical exercises. In practice, the exam consists of a preliminary written test and a final oral session. The exam, in both written and oral parts, will deal with all the topics discussed during the lessons: the geotechnical characterization of a site using laboratory and in situ tests (dealt with in the first part of the course) and the design of simple geotechnical works (dealt with in the second part of the course).

Higher grades will be awarded to students who 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 Michela Marchi