All engineering structures are founded on or within the earth, so it is important that civil engineering students acquire a good understanding of soil and rock behaviour and their impact on such structures. This unit (NEC2202) is designed to provide students with knowledge of basic geology, and the engineering properties and behaviour of different types of soil and rock when subjected to various degrees of weathering, moisture conditions, topographic /stratigraphic conditions, loading conditions and improvement techniques. Students will also be introduced to a range of hands-on activities and laboratory practices aimed at determining types and properties of soil and rock, which might be present on any particular site. Key topics include: Engineering geology; Classification, description and engineering properties of soil and rock; In-ground stress due to gravity loads and the principle of effective stress; Permeability and seepage of water through soil; Shear strength of soil; Slope failure mechanisms and related stability analyses; Earthworks and compaction of soils; Geotechnical site investigation; Introduction to geo-energy.

Unit details

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Credit points:
Unit code:


NEC2102 - Solid Mechanics

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, students will be able to:
  1. Evaluate and analyse basic soil / rock information using various sources including geological maps, laboratory and field investigations, websites and texts;  
  2. Classify major soil and rock types, and explain their typical applications for engineering uses;  
  3. Predict the behaviour of various soil and rock types under different in-situ conditions by quantitatively and qualitatively assessing key soil and rock parameters;  
  4. Apply numerical simulation techniques to model geomechanics problems and characterize soil / rock behaviour under various in-situ conditions; and  
  5. Conduct some key geotechnical laboratory tests, analyse data and interpret results according to the relevant Australian Standards.  


Assessment type Description Grade
Test Online quiz. 10%
Laboratory Work Laboratory reports 15%
Assignment Team-based problem solving exercise and report. 15%
Test Two individual written tests (2hrs each) (30% each) 60%
The tests focuses upon the individual student's ability to demonstrate his or her in-depth understanding of specialist bodies of knowledge within the engineering discipline, apply established engineering methods to complex engineering problems, and the fluent application of engineering techniques, tools and resources, as defined in Engineers Australia competencies 1.1, 1.3 and 2.2. As the test is the one clear way by which these competencies can be assessed on an individual basis, students must achieve a minimum mark of 50% in the tests (and 50% in the overall unit assessment) in order to pass the unit.

Required reading

Refer to VU Collaborate for recommended reading and additional resources.

Elements of Soil Mechanics 9th ed.
Smith, I. (2014)
Wiley Blackwell

Where to next?

As part of a course

This unit is studied as part of the following courses. Refer to the course page for information on how to apply for the course.

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