Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2023-2024 (archived)


Department: Engineering


Type Tied Level 3 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2023/24 Module Cap Location Durham
Tied to H100
Tied to H103


  • ENGI 2221


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • As specified in the Programme Regulations


  • This module is designed solely for students studying Department of Engineering degree programmes.
  • To introduce fundamental geological concepts relevant to engineering.
  • To provide practical skills of how to recognise geological features and how to interpret geological maps.
  • To develop qualitative and quantitative descriptions of soil behaviour in terms of phase models, seepage, strength and deformation properties.
  • To introduce methods of analysis applicable to soil engineering problems such as foundations, retaining walls and slopes.


  • Soils and Foundations, Soil Mechanics and Geology.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Understanding of relationship between minerals, rocks and soils;
  • Understanding of the importance of geological features on engineering design;
  • Understanding of soils, their structure and classification;
  • Understanding of soil strength and critical state approach to soils;
  • Understanding of short and long term deformations under load.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Ability to interpret geological maps so that the underlying type of rock can be related to topography;
  • Ability to recognise main types of rocks and minerals in the field;
  • Ability to calculate seepage and its consequences;
  • Ability to process data from standard soil tests;
  • Ability to estimate settlement;
  • Ability to design spread and piled foundations;
  • Ability to check the stability of retaining walls and soil slopes.
Key Skills:
  • Numerical skills appropriate to an engineer.
  • General problem solving skills that can be applied in a novel context.
  • Capacity for self-learning in familar and unfamiliar situations.

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • The main concepts will be presented within a lecture programme. Part of the lecture programme is devoted to the practical interpretation of geological maps. Handouts are provided for the students in paper format. Additional lecture notes are provided on DUO. Web-based materials covering the lectures on slopes are available via DUO to support student learning.
  • The lectures relating to geology are supported by 4 half-day field trips which the students will write up a field trip report which will be summatively assessed.
  • Students are able to make use of staff Office Hours to discuss any aspect of the module with teaching staff on a one to one basis. These are sign-up sessions available for up to one hour per week.
  • The lecture course is assessed by written examination which enables each student to demonstrate their knowledge and an ability to analyse and solve new problems.
  • A formative laboratory program develops practical laboratory skills and supports the module’s lecture material.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 42 2 per week term 1 hour 42
Laboratories 3 Typically 1 per week 3 hours 9
Office Hours as required Weekly sign-up sessions up to 1 hour 8
Geology Mapping Exercise 1 3 hours 3
Geology Field Trips 4 4 in term 1 5 hours 20
Preparation, reading and self study 118
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Written Examination Component Weighting: 80%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Written Examination 2 hours 100%
Component: Coursework Component Weighting: 20%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Coursework 100%

Formative Assessment:

Problem Sheets for lecture courses. Laboratories

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University