72797 - Coastal Engineering

Course Unit Page


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

Clean water and sanitation Affordable and clean energy Climate Action Oceans

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

Aim of the course is to provide tools for static analysis and basic skills for the evaluation of coastal structures impact and design. The course will introduce and describe processes that characterize the oceanic and littoral environment and provide tools for the analysis and design of coastal defences, harbours and offshore structures. Observations and physical intuition for understanding physical processes are emphasized.

Course contents

The coastal environment

Wind Wind generation, velocity distribution and effects of winds.

Sea level, astronomical tide. Storm surge

Wave dynamics. Linear irrotational wave theory. Breaking mechanisms and conditions. Run up and reflection on slopes. Energy spectrum, Rayleigh distribution. Time and frequency domain analysis of wave records.

Wind-waves generation, wind-wave hindcasting. Geographical and effective fetches.

Wave transformation from offshore to onshore. Wave shoaling: refraction. Wave diffraction.

Wave breaking. Radiation stress. Longshore currents.

Generalities on sediment transport.

Design and hydro-morphological effects of coastal interventions


Systems for coastal protection, selection of the structure lifetime and design sollicitations.

Wave-structure interaction

Wave-structure interaction for barriers parallel to the coast. Wave run-up, overtopping, transmission and reflection. Identification of the design parameters significant for wave attenuation and littoral protection.

Breakwater design

Design of breakwaters: hydraulic stability. Size of armour and toe protection. Criteria for sizing filters and geotechnical stability. Use of geotextile.

Generalities about construction phase.

Wave energy converters

Generalities about technologies for wave energy conversion, types of wave energy converters, effects on waves and sediment transport, applications in the Italian seas.


J.W. Kamphuis, Introduction to Coastal Engineering and Management, Adv. Series on Ocean Engineering – vol. 16, World Scientific

R.G. Dean & R.A. Dalrymple, Water wave mechanics for engineers and scientists, Adv. Series on Ocean Engineering – vol. 2, World Scientific

Teaching methods

The teaching methods could be modify based on the COVID19 situation.

Please check my web page during the year.

Frontal lectures

Some seminars with experts will be organized

Exercises with practical activities (i.e. computer programming and use of specific software) using Matlab and excel:

- statistics of extreme tides or waves;
- dispersion relationship for evaluating wave transformation from off-shore to in-shore;
- reconstruction of the typical annual wave climate
desing of rock permeable structures for coastal defence;

-design of multifunctional harbour breakwaters .

Assessment methods

Achievements will be assessed by the means of a final exam. This is based on the assessment of the "expected learning outcomes" described above.

The oral session, consists of a discussion of the written exercises , and a technical conversation.

Higher grades will be awarded to students who demonstrate an outstanding understanding of the subject, a high ability for critical application, and a clear and concise presentation of the contents.

To obtain a passing grade, students are required to at least demonstrate a knowledge of the key concepts of the subject, some ability for critical application, and a comprehensible 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 Renata Archetti

See the website of Barbara Zanuttigh