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Unit information: Earthquake Engineering 4 in 2018/19

Please note: It is possible that the information shown for future academic years may change due to developments in the relevant academic field. Optional unit availability varies depending on both staffing and student choice.

Unit name Earthquake Engineering 4
Unit code CENGM1900
Credit points 10
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Sextos
Open unit status Not open

CENG31400 Structural Engineering 3 & CENG32200 Geotechnics 3



School/department Department of Civil Engineering
Faculty Faculty of Engineering


This unit will provide a grounding in the basic principles and practices of Earthquake Engineering in structural and geotechnical engineering. The emphasis will be on understanding how seismic loads affect typical building and geotechnical artefacts, how the various materials respond up to the ultimate limit state (i.e. collapse), and how the artefacts should be configured and detailed to accommodate these issues and achieve satisfactory performance. The content will be set within the context of the new European Code of Practice for Earthquake Engineering, Eurocode 8 and the associated Eurocodes for Steel, Concrete and Geotechnics. Reference will also be made to the newly evolving Performance Based Engineering paradigm, which will be the basis for the next generation of design codes.


  1. To develop students' awareness of the nature of earthquakes and their effects on typical civil engineering systems;
  2. To develop students' knowledge and understanding of the underpinning principles of earthquake design and construction;
  3. To enable students to apply the underpinning principles to the basic earthquake design and detailing of some typical civil engineering systems;
  4. To develop students' awareness of important evolutions in earthquake engineering practice expected over the next 10 years.

Intended learning outcomes

By the end of the course, successful students will;

1. be able to describe the origin of earthquake ground motions and how they are influenced by the source characteristics and the ground transmission characteristics, topography etc.,

2. be able to explain the main methods for characterising seismic hazard (magnitude, intensity, response spectra, time histories, power spectra, etc.),

3. be able to explain how ground shaking leads to the dynamic response of single and multi-degree of freedom systems and how the characteristics of those systems (i.e. mass, stiffness, damping, yielding ,etc.) can be adjusted during design in order to optimise their performance,

4. be able to apply simplified code of practice approaches to characterising seismic actions on systems (e.g. design spectra, R-factors, time history analysis) and relate these to fundamental methods of dynamic analysis,

5. understand the philosophy of current codes of practice (e.g. Eurocode 8, force based design, capacity design) as well as the emerging paradigm of Performance Based Engineering,

6. have explored the application of code of practice approaches to the conceptual and detailed design of some typical steel, concrete, and geotechnical systems (e.g. buildings, bridges, foundations, retaining walls),

7. have experience of the application of typical computer packages in seismic design (e.g. Oasys GSA, Matlab, OpenSEES),

8. be aware of advanced issues and technological solutions such as base isolation, tuned mass dampers, active dampers, seismic qualification, secondary system response, etc.

Teaching details

Lectures: 20 hours

Assessment Details

3 hour exam 100%

Reading and References

Dynamics of Structures, Anil K. Chopra, Prentice Hall, ISBN-13: 978-0131561748

Dynamics of Structures, R.W. Clough and J. Penzien, McGraw-Hill ISBN-13: 978-0071132411

Seismic Design of Reinforced Concrete and Masonry Buildings, T. Paulay, M.J.N. Priestley, Wiley ISBN-13: 978-0471549154

Seismic Design and Retrofit of Bridges, M.J.N. Priestley and F. Seible, Wiley, ISBN-13: 978-0471579984

Geotechnical Earthquake Engineering, S. Cramer, Prentice-Hall, ISBN-13: 978-0133749434

Earthquake Design Practice for Buildings, E.D. Booth, Thomas Telford, ISBN-13: 978-0727729477

A first course in finite elements, J. Fish and T. Belytschko, Wiley, ISBN978-0-470-03580-1

Eurocode 8 – available on-line via University Library