Master's and PhD Degrees
Introductory Soil Mechanics
CIV_ENV 250-0: Earth Surface Engineering

Quarter Offered

Fall : MWF 10:00-10:50 (Lab: T 9:30-12:20) ; Rotta Loria


MECH_ENG 241-0


This course addresses the fundamentals of the mechanics of geomaterials, with emphasis on the processes and phenomena that govern the equilibrium of the Earth’s surface. Specifically, the course focuses on the analysis of the structure and properties of soils and rocks, and the way these materials respond to loading (mechanical and hydraulic loading). The course comprises theoretical sessions, practical sessions, and laboratory sessions. The theoretical sessions develop foundational concepts, theories, and approaches underpinning the characterization, analysis, and prediction of the structure, properties, and behavior of geomaterials. The practical sessions apply the gathered theory to solve a variety of earth surface engineering problems, with an outlook on the interplay between the structure, properties, and behavior of geomaterials and the engineering performance of natural and built environments. The laboratory sessions propose and guide through hands-on activities and laboratory tests of geomaterials to address basic earth surface engineering problems.

Learning Objectives:

  • Understand the fundamental micro- and nano-structural characteristics of geomaterials, with a focus on soils and rocks
  • Know the essential mechanical and hydraulic properties of geomaterials
  • Understand the response of geomaterials subjected to mechanical and hydraulic loading
  • Recognize key analytical approaches, laboratory experiments, and field tests available to quantify the properties and assess the response of geomaterials to loading
  • Appreciate the relevance and interplay between the structure, properties, and behavior of geomaterials and the loads applied to such materials on the engineering performance of natural and built environments
  • Master basic laboratory techniques to characterize the properties and behavior of geomaterials
  • Communicate in oral, written, and graphical form with both technical and non-technical audiences
  • Employ software and computer techniques for design and communication
  • Work individually and in a team to solve problems related to earth surface engineering
  • Structure and write reports summarizing the results of technical calculations and analyses


Lab section required, No P/N


Holtz, R. D., and Kovacs, W. D. (1981). An introduction to geotechnical engineering. Pearson (HKS)

Lambe T.W., and Whitman, R.V.  (1979) Soil Mechanics. Wiley (LW)

Course Outline, Outcomes and Goals