Geotechnical Engineering (GEO170)

This course provides an introduction to geotechnical engineering that can be taken by geo- and energy-resources as well as civil engineering students. Geotechnics is an engineering science that deals with practical issues related to rock and soil materials found close to the surface of the Earth. This involves both the mechanics, measurements and interpretation of soils and rocks, for the design and maintenance of temporary and permanent constructions (foundations, retaining structures, earth structures, etc.). After completing the course, the student will have a basic understanding of geotechnical problems, measurements, analysis, and design, as well as the integration of these with geophysical, remote sensing, environmental assessment, and GIS methods.

Course description for study year 2022-2023


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The course provides an introduction to geotechnical engineering by covering these topics:
  • General classification of rocks and soils.
  • Mineralogy of major soil minerals.
  • Weathering and alteration of major soil and rock materials.
  • Subsurface geotechnical surveying.
  • Stresses in soil and rock materials.
  • Construction applications:
    • Foundations.
    • Retaining structures.
    • Slope stability.
    • Tunnels.
    • Geosynthetics materials.
  • Environmental geotechnics.
  • Introduction to geohazard evaluation and mitigation.

Learning outcome


  • Knowledge on how to work with different soils/rocks in geotechnical engineering.
  • Knowledge of mathematical methods and physics applied to geotechnical engineering.
  • Knowledge on how to build a basic subsurface model for evaluating the geotechnical solutions for reducing risks in civil engineering applications.
  • Understanding how outer/inner geological processes of the Earth are related to diverse geohazards.


  • Be able to perform practical, geotechnical laboratory tests.
  • Be able to perform basic mathematical calculations to solve problems in geotechnical engineering.
  • Be able to integrate geotechnical, geological, and geophysical data in order to build a subsurface model.
  • Be able to analyze field data and laboratory measurements and summarize these into geotechnical reports.

General competence:

  • To solve geotechnical problems by collecting, processing, and interpreting field and laboratory data.
  • To communicate geotechnical results through technical presentations and reports to other related fields and public in general. 
  • To help decision making in the public and private sectors in problems related to geotechnical engineering.

Required prerequisite knowledge

FYS100 Mechanics, MAT100 Mathematical Methods 1

Recommended prerequisites

GEO100 Earth, Energy and Climate, GEO130 Geophysics, GEO140 Fluid Flow in Porous Media, PET110 Geophysics and Well Logging


Report, oral presentation and written exam

Form of assessment Weight Duration Marks Aid
Report 2/5 4 Weeks Letter grades All
Oral presentation 1/5 45 Minutes Letter grades All
Written exam 2/5 2 Hours Letter grades Approved compendium of formulae, Basic calculator,

Continuous evaluation. You must pass all parts to pass the course. All parts must be assessed in order to receive a grade. If you fail the assessment, you must retake the following year. There are no continuation opportunities on the assessment parts. Students who wish to take these sections again must do so the next time the course has regular instructionThe written report is a group project. Canvas and emails are used as normal communication forms. A detailed plan of the course activities will be given by the instructor at the beginning of the course.

Coursework requirements

Lab reports

Completion of lab reports.

Attendance to lab exercises is compulsory. Students must attend 80% of lab exercises. Due to illness or other reasons during the laboratory exercises, the absence should be reported to the lab responsible or course instructor.

Course teacher(s)

Course coordinator:

Fernando Mazuera Rico

Study Program Director:

Lisa Jean Watson

Programme coordinator:

Karina Sanni

Head of Department:

Alejandro Escalona Varela

Method of work

Six hours a week of lectures combined with 4-5 laboratory assignments and a final project (2 hours a week). Upon availability, we will plan a visit to a construction project during the preliminary ground investigation or execution phases, which may comprise geotechnical, geophysical, environmental, and remote sensing surveys.

Course assessment

Form and/or discussion.


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