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Unit information: Soil-Structure Interaction 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 Soil-Structure Interaction 4
Unit code CENGM2700
Credit points 10
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Professor. Mylonakis
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of Civil Engineering
Faculty Faculty of Engineering


Soil-structure interaction (SSI) is central to the design and performance of building foundations, retaining walls, tunnels and laterally loaded piles. In such problems earth pressures depend on structure movements or deflections, and structure movements or deflections depend on earth pressures. The unit will be primarily coursework based, and will provide an opportunity for students to use state-of-the-art geotechnical software that is used by leading consultants worldwide.

Students will use PLAXIS, a finite element package intended for the two-dimensional analysis of deformation and stability in geotechnical engineering, that is well suited to modelling the interaction between a structure and the soil. After working through example problems contained in the introductory tutorial manual, students will use Plaxis in the analysis of some foundation and flexible retaining wall problems. Parallel analyses will be undertaken using the structural analysis package GSA. Comparisons will be made between the computer solutions and closed form analyses, and students will be encouraged to evaluate limitations of each approach.

Students will present and discuss their findings in an individual report.


  1. To introduce students to the use of finite element software in analysing geotechnical engineering problems;
  2. To develop students' awareness of the limitations of such analyses;
  3. To enhance students' understanding of the factors that influence soil-structure interaction.

Intended learning outcomes

By the end of the course, successful students will:

1. have some understanding of the response of structures to ground deformations and of soil-structure interaction,

2. have developed a capability in modelling geotechnical problems with finite element software and interpreting the results,

3. Have undertaken a detailed study of some foundation and retaining wall problems and written up their findings in a report.

Teaching details

Lectures and computing labs.

Assessment Details

Coursework: 100% ULO

Reading and References

  1. Avoiding Damage caused by Soil-structure Interaction: Lessons learnt from Case Histories. Edited by Richard Kastner, Oddvar Kjekstad and Jamie Standing. Thomas Telford Ltd 1993.
  2. Soil-structure interaction :the real behaviour of structures. The Institution of Civil Engineers, International Association for Bridge and Structural Engineering. London : The Institution of Structural Engineers, 1989.
  3. Horvath, J (2002). Soil-Structure Interaction Research Project - Basic SSI Concepts and Applications Overview. Center for Geotechnology, Manhattan College. Report No. CGT-2002-2. Can be downloaded from
  4. Plaxis Introductory 2D (v8) and Full Plaxis 2D (v9). Tutorial and Reference Manuals (online).