Principles of soil mechanics

Online course

50 hours / 6 weeks

Dates: to be determined


The purpose of this course is to provide the learner with easy-to-understand introductions to the subjects of geotechnical engineering and soil mechanics. The level of the subjects covered are first year university level and will be easily followed by anyone studying, practicing, or simply interested in, civil engineering. No prior knowledge of geotechnical engineering is required.

Following this course the learner will be equipped to take further study if they wish, to develop deeper knowledge and understanding of the various methods and procedures used in the design and construction of geotechnical structures such as foundations, retaining walls and cuttings and embankments.

The course commences with an introduction to geotechnical engineering, illustrated by examples of the range of projects on which geotechnical engineers may be involved. An explanation of the geological processes that form soils follows, before we start to look properly at the subjects that form the basis of the subject of soil mechanics. Those subjects are well explained and complemented by many worked examples so that the learner can readily understand the material. Completion of the course will enable the learner to apply their knowledge to their needs, whether they are a student or a practitioner.

On line support is available throughout the duration of the course.

Limited places.

  1. Introduction to geotechnical engineering
  • – Geotechnical engineering projects
  • – Geotechnical design work:
  • – Stratigraphy
  • – Classification
  • – Stiffness
  • – Strength
  • – Groundwater
  1. Origin of soils
  • – Formation of soils: weathering, erosion and deposition
  • – Residual and transported soils
  • – Structure and fabric of soils
  • – Granular and cohesive soils
  • – Mechanical behaviour of granular and cohesive soils
  • – Water in soils
  1. Site investigation
  • – Objectives
  • – Desk study
  • – Walkover survey
  • – Ground investigation
  • – Site exploration methods
  • – Sampling of soils
  • – Field testing
  • – Laboratory testing
  • – Geotechnical reports
  1. Classification of soils
  • – Drying of soils
  • – Determination of the water content
  • – Classification of granular soils: the particle size distribution test
  • – Effective size of a distribution, D10
  • – Grading of a distribution
  • – Uniformity coefficient, Cu
  • – The consistency limits
  • – Classification of cohesive soils: Index tests
  • – Description of soils
  1. Properties of soils
  • – Void ratio
  • – Porosity
  • – Degree of saturation
  • – Particle density and specific gravity
  • – Density and unit weight
  • – Measurement of density
  • – Soil physical relations
  1. Permeability and water flow in soils
  • – Hydrological cycle
  • – Subsurface water
  • – Flow of water in soils:
  • – Saturated flow
  • – Hydraulic head
  • – Seepage velocity
  1.             Darcy’s Law of saturated flow
  2.             Coefficient of permeability
  • – Determination of permeability in the laboratory
  • – Field determination of permeability
  • – Flow nets
  • – Quick condition and piping
  • – Critical hydraulic gradient
  1. Total stress, pore water pressure and effective stress
  • – Total stress
  • – Multi-layered soils
  • – Presence of water table
  • – Pore water pressure
  • – Effective stress
  • – Stresses induced by applied loading

Professor Ian Smith

Professor Ian Smith is a freelance geotechnical and educational consultant with over 25 years experience teaching geotechnical engineering. Based in the UK, he is internationally recognised and has taught at universities across Europe and in China, Myanmar, Hong Kong and Qatar. He is the author of the leading textbook, Smith’s Elements of Soil Mechanics – now in its 9th Edition and adopted by almost all UK universities and by many across the world.He is praised for making his subject very easy to understand and has won several teaching awards based on his excellent student feedback. More details can be found at his website and LinkedIn profile.

Within this virtual platform, students are in continuous contact with professor in a tailored way, solving questions together, and widening knowledge and acquiring new skills. Students can also interact with other students and professors through webinars and forums.

Plenty of content can be found in the Campus: eLearning material, videos, technical articles, manuals, complementary documentation, real examples and exercises.

This course is aimed at:(i) college and university students who wish to learn or refresh their knowledge of soil mechanics alongside their current studies, and (ii) practitioners (technicians and engineers alike) who need to refresh or update their knowledge of soil mechanics. By studying the course, the learner will fully understand and appreciate the fundamental principles involved as well as test and measurement procedures used in the soils laboratory and in the field: not only how to do the test, but the reasons why we need the tests carried out.

The course is also suitable for practicing engineers whose knowledge of the principles of soil mechanics is a bit rusty and in need of refreshing.

The course is delivered in such an easy-to-understand way that all participants will be able to follow all the topics covered and significantly improve their understanding of the principles and examples of soil mechanics.

As evidence of knowledge gained throughout the course, a certificate will be issued from the Virtual platform. This certificate is based on the modern technology Blockchain, which increases security, prevents fraud, builds trust and ensures you’re ready for the future.

The course is appropriate for anyone studying or working at any level in the civil engineering sector.

An understanding of the mechanical behaviour of engineering soils is important for anyone working in civil engineering. Whether you are a student, a designer, a contractor, an academic, a researcher or working in civil engineering maintenance, knowing the way that different soils will behave under loading or as a result of water movement is important. This course will teach you all of that and more.

Geotechnical engineering is arguably the most important discipline in civil engineering, since all structures are built either onto or into the ground. Thus, knowledge of soil mechanics is a fundamental requirement for all people wishing to succeed in civil engineering. The course has been structured and developed to enable all participants to acquire that knowledge.


There are no reviews yet.

Be the first to review “Principles of soil mechanics”

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More info

Get info about the course.

Name *

E-mail *

I have read and accept the Privacy Policy.  

Finish this course and get a certificate based on Blockchain

Principles of soil mechanics

Certificate based on Blockchain

Click here to view an example

Blockchain technology makes the certificate incorruptible, enabling companies to verifiy its autenticity.