Course syllabus


ACE230 Contemporary topics in geomechanics lp1 HT23 (7.5 hp)

The course is offered by the Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering

Contact details

Course purpose

The aim of the course is to equip the student with advanced knowledge in geomechanics to deal with the future societal challenges related to climate change and net zero carbon, especially in the context of urbanisation, renewable energy and the new generation of railways (high speed rail). Geomechanics for climate resilience expands the students’ geotechnical knowledge to mechanics for partially saturated soils, covering issues with wetting collapse of fill materials and slope stability when losing suction (negative pore pressures) due to heavy rainfalls, as well as conventional and nature-based slope mitigation solutions. Increasing construction underground as part of urbanisation requires expertise in tunnelling methods (in soils and rocks) as well as their environmental effects. The need for constructing on poor ground conditions benefits from experience on ground improvement (GI) techniques as alternatives for piles, resulting in reduced embodied CO2eq and contributing toward net zero. Finally, given the plans for high speed rail and issues with foundations for renewable energy, basic concepts on soil dynamics will be introduced.



Course literature

- Fredlund, D.G., Rahardjo, H. and Fredlund, M.D., 2012. Unsaturated soil mechanics in engineering practice. John Wiley & Sons. (available as e-book)
- Ground improvement, Klaus Kirsch, Klaus & Alan Bell (Editors), 2013.  Third Edition, CRC Press, Taylor & Francis Group, London. (available as e-book)
- Soil Improvement and Ground Modification Methods, 2014, Peter G. Nicholson, Butterworth-Heinemann. (available as e-book)
- Requirements and recommendations from Trafikverket (TK-GEO & TR-GEO)

Course design

The course will be taught through lectures, tutorials (including computer tutorials), and consultation for design projects. The coursework assignments will be done in groups, with some parts assessed individually.

Changes made since the last occasion

No major changes since last year.

Learning objectives and syllabus

Learning objectives:

  1. Understand the principle of effective stresses in a partially saturated state (single Bishop’s effective stress measure versus two independent stress measures).
  2. Recognise the effect of partial saturation on the shear strength and stiffness of soil.
  3. Use conventional methods to estimate the slope stability with partial saturation effect.
  4. Apply conventional method(s) to estimate 1D soil collapse/swelling due to variation in suction.
  5. Describe the principles of various tunnelling methods in soils and rocks, and understand the main challenges and environmental effects.
  6. Understand the principles and execution of various ground improvement techniques, in order to be able to select the most appropriate methods for a given problem from a technical and sustainability point of view.
  7. Apply the best practice in designing ground improvement.
  8. Understand the additional geotechnical challenges in the construction of new railways (high speed rail) and foundations for renewable energy, related to  soil dynamics.


Link to the syllabus on Studieportalen.

Study plan


Examination form

The grading is based on two design projects (on ground improvement & slope stability, respectively) graded Fail, 3, 4, 5. The projects are done in groups with some parts graded as individual. In addition, the students need to hand-in an assignment related to soil dynamics at a satisfactory level (Fail/Pass).

Course summary:

Date Details Due