Course code BūvZ2053

Credit points 2

Mechanics of Soils

Total Hours in Course80

Number of hours for lectures16

Number of hours for seminars and practical classes8

Number of hours for laboratory classes8

Independent study hours48

Date of course confirmation10.03.2021

Responsible UnitInstitute of Civil Engineering and Wood Processing

Course developers

author prof.

Lilita Ozola

Dr. sc. ing.


Elīna Strode


Prior knowledge

Fizi2003, Physics

LauZ2020, Geology and Soil Science I

Course abstract

The course is aimed to mastering the basic knowledge on soil formation and types, physical-mechanical characteristics of soils and determination methods, basic concepts on one-dimensional flow of water through soils, accepted models for mechanical behaviour of soils, theory of linear consolidation of soils, and application for determination of settlement of soils, lateral pressure of soils, methods of determination, use of available software for design of retaining walls.

Learning outcomes and their assessment

Knowledge: is able to characterize the types of soil and the main regularities of mechanics, is able to name the methods of determining the physical and mechanical characteristics of the soil, is able to explain the theory of foundation and foundation design, the application of the limit state method; is able to show understanding of the most important concepts and regularities.
Skills: to determine the main characteristics of the physico-mechanical properties of the soil, to interpret the results obtained in the laboratory work, to determine the lateral earth pressure on the gravity wall based on the limit state method and applying the methodology of the 7th Eurocode.
Laboratory and practical works
Competence: to assess the ground according to its physical-mechanical characteristics, to assess its compliance with construction goals; is able to independently acquire, select and analyze information and use it to solve problems
Independent /home work
Test - conversation

Course Content(Calendar)

1. Soils, their structure, classification, physical and mechanical properties (2h)
2. Characteristics of granular soils, methods of their determination (2h)
3. Characteristics of cohesive soils, methods of their determination (2h)
4. Shear stregth. Coulomb Law. Determination of internal friction angle and specific bond (2h)
5. Compressibility of soils. Deformation module, its determination(2h)
Test 1: Physical and mechanical properties of soil, methods for their determination (1h)
6. Regularities of groundwater flow. Darcy`s Law. Water permeable and impermeable layers. Determination of water permeability (filtration) coefficient (2h)
7. Basics of limit state method. Concepts of geotechnical design (2h)
8. Mechanic’s theories for modeling of the soil mass. Stress distribution in the soil. The concept of effective stress (2h)
9. Methods and retaining structures for securing slopes (embedded walls, gravity walls) (3h)
10. Lateral earth pressure (active and passive), methods for its determination (2h)
Test 2: Stress distribution in the soil. Design according limit states.(1h)
11. Use of computer programs in designing gravity walls (2h)
12. Linearly deformable body theory, its application for the prediction of building settlement. Calculation of foundation settlement, ground self-weight and additional stress graphic representation (2h)
13. Uneven settlement of soil layers, influencing factors(1h)
14. Engineering geology research, volume and content of the report. Soil Investigation Methods (2h)
15. Types of artificial substrates. Ground reinforcement. (1h)
Test 3: Settlement of Building structures. Artificial substrates. (1h)
Laboratory Works:
1. Determination of granular soil name and heterogeneity. Determination of the natural slope angle
2. Determination of soil moisture. Determination of the name of cohesive soil. Computation of key physical characteristics
3. Determination of soil compressibility (compression test)
Soil shear resistance test
Part time extramural studies:
All topics specified for full time studies are accomplished, but the number of contact hours is one half of the number specified in the calendar

Requirements for awarding credit points

Credit test is passed if:
• Laboratory tasks are carried out, and data processed in an individual way by the student, as well as conversation on related topic achievs a positive results.
• The practical task (s) on the topics acquired during the study course have been independently developed and the results of the conversation are positive.
• Student is able to discuss on course content.

The mark is calculated as average value of all marks earned during semester.

Description of the organization and tasks of students’ independent work

During semester student performs laboratory tests acquiring some method of soil investigation. Analysis of test results and discussion with instructor takes place at the end.
Determination of physical and mechanical properties of soil according to some initial data given.
Acquisition of main regularities of soil mechanics - calculation skills of settlement and lateral earth pressure calculation, as well as practical skills of design of gravity walls.

Criteria for Evaluating Learning Outcomes

Credits will be enrolled if the student is able to prove his/her knowledge and competence during constructive conversation about main regularities of soil mechanics (according checklist).

The assessment of the study course depends on the average arithmetic evaluation of the independent task and the study course tests.

A student can get a successful mark on the test if at least 50% of the questions are answered correctly.
The homework (independent practical task) is evaluated according to the evaluation procedure specified in the assignment.

Compulsory reading

1. Filipenkovs V., Tūna M., Grabis J. Ģeotehnikas pamatkurss: lekcijas un praktiskās nodarbības. Rīgas Tehniskā universitāte. Būvniecības fakultāte. Rīga: RTU, 2006. 166 lpp.
2. Barnes, Graham. Soil mechanics: principles and practice - 3rd ed. - Basingstoke : Palgrave Macmillan, 2010, 549 lpp.

Further reading

1. Möller G. Geotechnik. Grundbau. Ernst & Sohn, 2006.- 498 lpp.
2. Terzaghi, Karl.: Soil mechanics in engineering practice New York etc.: Wiley, 1996, 549 p.
3. Designers' guide to EN 1997-1: Eurocode 7: geotechnical design- general rules /R. Frank... [et al.]. London: Thomas Telford, 2004., 216 p.
4. Smith, Ian. Smith's elements of soil mechanics - 9th edition. - Chichester, West Sussex: Wiley/Blackwell, 2014., 471 lpp.
5. Guidelines for Soil Description and Classification: Central and Eastern European Students' Version /editors Marcin Świtoniak, Cezary Kabała, Aldis Karklins, Przemysław Charzyński. Toruń: Polish Society of Soil Science, 2018. 286 lpp.

Periodicals and other sources

1. Būvinženieris: Latvijas Būvinženieru savienības izdevums. Rīga: Latvijas Būvinženieru savienība. ISSN 1691-9262.


Compulsory Course for the Professional Bachelor’s study programme “Environment and Water Management”