USQ LogoCourse specification
The current and official versions of the course specifications are available on the web at //
Please consult the web for updates that may occur during the year.

CIV2403 Geology and Geomechanics

Semester 2, 2014 External Toowoomba
Units : 1
Faculty or Section : Faculty of Health, Engineering and Sciences
School or Department : School of Civil Engineering and Surveying

Contents on this page


Examiner: Kazem Ghabraie
Moderator: Jim Shiau


Pre-requisite: CIV1501 or CIV1500


This course provides a basic introduction to Geology and Soil Mechanics for students in the Associate Diploma, Bachelor of Technology and Bachelor of Engineering (Agricultural, Civil and Environmental Engineering) programs.


All engineers working with soils and rocks must understand the range of techniques available for both identifying these materials and for determining their physical and mechanical properties. The course provides an introduction to both geology and soil mechanics. Geological information affects engineering decisions in the design and planning stages because all large scale engineering works have their foundations in rock or soil. Many projects, such as dam walls and pavements are also built from these materials. A working knowledge of geologically applied design limitations is therefore required by all engineers involved in foundation works. Students will also be introduced to the basic concepts of soil mechanics that are widely used in the design of geotechnical engineering problems such as flow nets, soil consolidation and settlement of structures. The emphasis throughout the course is placed on a practical understanding of these topics.


The course objectives define the student learning outcomes for a course. On completion of this course students will be able to:

  1. examine and categorise a limited group of minerals and outline key identification features;
  2. examine and categorise hand specimens of rocks commonly used as construction material, assess the major physical properties, and state their material limitations in specific applications;
  3. distinguish structural properties of rocks, particularly faults, folds, and joints, and interpret their significance for engineering;
  4. explain weathering processes and soil formation processes;
  5. interpret geological maps and cross sections to a limited extent and relate such information to engineering;
  6. understand the geological principles and procedures used in a site investigation and the engineering properties of rocks to appraise/survey geological materials;
  7. understand the basic characteristics of soils such as soil physics, soil compaction, soil chemistry, soil plasticity, particle size distribution and soil classification;
  8. explain the concept of effective and total stresses in saturated soils;
  9. apply Darcy's Law to simple soil structures and find permeability characteristics from the provided test data; employ the procedures involved in constructing flow nets to solve specific problems;
  10. use available methods to estimate elastic stress changes in soil and calculate elastic settlement under a variety of external loading systems;
  11. calculate the consolidation settlement under a single footing using the concept of one dimensional consolidation theory.


Description Weighting(%)
1. Structure of the Earth and Historical Geology 5.00
2. Minerals, Igneous, Sedimentary & Metamorphic Rock Types, Weathering and Structural Geology 10.00
3. Geology Maps, Site Investigation, Engineering Properties of Rocks and Rock Construction Materials 10.00
4. Introduction and Physical Properties of Soils 10.00
5. Effective Stress Concept 10.00
6. Permeability and Flow Nets 25.00
7. Stress Distribution in Soil 15.00
8. Consolidation of Soil and Settlement of Structures 15.00

Text and materials required to be purchased or accessed

ALL textbooks and materials available to be purchased can be sourced from USQ's Online Bookshop (unless otherwise stated). (

Please contact us for alternative purchase options from USQ Bookshop. (

  • Das, BM 2009, Principles of geotechnical engineering - SI version, 7th edn, Cengage Learning, Stamford, CT.
    (ISBN: 0495411329.)
  • College Geological Specimen Kit.

Reference materials

Reference materials are materials that, if accessed by students, may improve their knowledge and understanding of the material in the course and enrich their learning experience.
  • Please refer to the StudyDesk.

Student workload requirements

Activity Hours
Assessments 30.00
Directed Study 43.00
Examinations 2.00
Private Study 80.00

Assessment details

Description Marks out of Wtg (%) Due Date Notes
ONLINE QUIZ 150 15 30 Aug 2014 (see note 1)
ASSIGNMENT 350 35 22 Sep 2014

  1. The online quiz will be opened from 24 to 30 Aug 2014

Important assessment information

  1. Attendance requirements:
    There are no attendance requirements for this course. However, it is the students' responsibility to study all material provided to them or required to be accessed by them to maximise their chance of meeting the objectives of the course and to be informed of course-related activities and administration.

  2. Requirements for students to complete each assessment item satisfactorily:
    To satisfactorily complete an individual assessment item a student must achieve at least 50% of the marks or a grade of at least C-. (Depending upon the requirements in Statement 4 below, students may not have to satisfactorily complete each assessment item to receive a passing grade in this course.)

  3. Penalties for late submission of required work:
    Students should refer to the Assessment Procedure (point 4.2.4)

  4. Requirements for student to be awarded a passing grade in the course:
    To be assured of receiving a passing grade in a course a student must obtain at least 50% of the total weighted marks for the course.

  5. Method used to combine assessment results to attain final grade:
    The final grades for students will be assigned on the basis of the weighted aggregate of the marks (or grades) obtained for each of the summative assessment items in the course.

  6. Examination information:
    In an Open Examination, candidates may have access to any material during the examination except the following: electronic communication devices, bulky materials, devices requiring mains power and material likely to disturb other students. Students must bring their study book to the examination. Tables contained in the study book will be needed in the examination.

  7. Examination period when Deferred/Supplementary examinations will be held:
    Any Deferred or Supplementary examinations for this course will be held during the next examination period.

  8. University Student Policies:
    Students should read the USQ policies: Definitions, Assessment and Student Academic Misconduct to avoid actions which might contravene University policies and practices. These policies can be found at

Assessment notes

  1. The due date for an assignment is the date by which a student must despatch the assignment to the USQ. The onus is on the student to provide proof of the despatch date, if requested by the Examiner.

  2. Students must retain a copy of each item submitted for assessment. This must be despatched to USQ within 24 hours if required by the Examiner.

  3. In accordance with University Policy, the Examiner may grant an extension of the due date of an assignment in extenuating circumstances.

  4. If electronic submission of assessments is specified for the course, students will be notified of this in the course Introductory Book and on the USQ Study Desk. All required electronic submission must be made through the Assignment Drop Box located on the USQ Study Desk for the course, unless directed otherwise by the examiner of the course. The due date for an electronically submitted assessment is the date by which a student must electronically submit the assignment. The assignment files must be submitted by 11.55pm on the due date using USQ time (as displayed on the clock on the course home page; that is, Australian Eastern Standard Time).

  5. If the method of assessment submission is by written, typed or printed paper-based media students should (i) submit to the Faculty Office for students enrolled in the course in the on-campus mode, or (ii) mail to the USQ for students enrolled in the course in the external mode. The due date for the assessment is the date by which a student must (i) submit the assessment for students enrolled in the on-campus mode, or (ii) mail the assessment for students enrolled in the external mode.

  6. The Faculty will NOT normally accept submission of assessments by facsimile or email.

  7. Students who do not have regular access to postal services for the submission of paper-based assessments, or regular access to Internet services for electronic submission, or are otherwise disadvantaged by these regulations may be given special consideration. They should contact the examiner of the course to negotiate such special arrangements prior to the submission date.

  8. Students who have undertaken all of the required assessments in a course but who have failed to meet some of the specified objectives of a course within the normally prescribed time may be awarded one of the temporary grades: IM (Incomplete - Make up), IS (Incomplete - Supplementary Examination) or ISM (Incomplete -Supplementary Examination and Make up). A temporary grade will only be awarded when, in the opinion of the examiner, a student will be able to achieve the remaining objectives of the course after a period of non directed personal study.

  9. Students who, for medical, family/personal, or employment-related reasons, are unable to complete an assignment or to sit for an examination at the scheduled time may apply to defer an assessment in a course. Such a request must be accompanied by appropriate supporting documentation. One of the following temporary grades may be awarded IDS (Incomplete - Deferred Examination; IDM (Incomplete Deferred Make-up); IDB (Incomplete - Both Deferred Examination and Deferred Make-up).

  10. Harvard (AGPS) is the referencing system required in this course. Students should use Harvard (AGPS) style in their assignments to format details of the information sources they have cited in their work. The Harvard (AGPS) style to be used is defined by the USQ Library's referencing guide. //