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Unit of study_

CIVL5460: Particle Mechanics for Geotechnics

Semester 1, 2022 [Normal day] - Remote

The objectives of this unit are to demonstrate how the granular structure of soil materials controls their engineering behaviour; translate particle micromechanics to improve macroscopic engineering predictions; and establish the intimate connection of geotechnical engineering to other disciplines where granular materials play a pivotal role, including mining engineering, bulk materials handling, and geophysics. Similarly, this course will cohesively connect geotechnical engineering with fluids engineering principles, as well as enhance students' background in materials science. At the end of this unit students will be able to understand and use Discrete Element Method to evaluate and solve geotechnical problems such as rockfall interactions with surrounding terrain. They will also critically analyse pile penetration and silo discharge in light of granular mechanisms; apply soil rheology to carry out parametric study of landslide flows; and understand and use dimensionless analysis principles to predict resistive forces on obstacles. Strong focus will be dedicated for communicating students' results using written methods appropriate for professional engineers.

Unit details and rules

Unit code CIVL5460
Academic unit Civil Engineering
Credit points 6
Assumed knowledge


Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff

Coordinator Itai Einav,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Assignment Assignment 1
Developing of DEM code, DEM analysis, and written report on these
30% Week 07 About 2-3 weeks to complete
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO3 LO4
Assignment Assignment 2
lab analysis and report
25% Week 09 About 2-3 weeks to complete
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO6
Assignment Assignment 3
lab analysis and report
25% Week 11 2-3 weeks to complete
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO6
Tutorial quiz Final quiz
quiz, with a fusion of multiple choice questions and open questions
20% Week 13 n/a (during final lecture time)
Outcomes assessed: LO2 LO7 LO6 LO5 LO4 LO3

Assessment summary

Detailed information for each assessment can be found on Canvas.

Assessment criteria

The University awards common result grades, set out in the Coursework Policy 2014 (Schedule 1).

As a general guide, a high distinction indicates work of an exceptional standard, a distinction a very high standard, a credit a good standard, and a pass an acceptable standard.

Result name

Mark range


High distinction

85 - 100



75 - 84



65 - 74



50 - 64



0 - 49

When you don’t meet the learning outcomes of the unit to a satisfactory standard.

For more information see

For more information see guide to grades.

Late submission

In accordance with University policy, these penalties apply when written work is submitted after 11:59pm on the due date:

  • Deduction of 5% of the maximum mark for each calendar day after the due date.
  • After ten calendar days late, a mark of zero will be awarded.

Academic integrity

The Current Student website  provides information on academic integrity and the resources available to all students. The University expects students and staff to act ethically and honestly and will treat all allegations of academic integrity breaches seriously.  

We use similarity detection software to detect potential instances of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breach. If such matches indicate evidence of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breaches, your teacher is required to report your work for further investigation.

You may only use artificial intelligence and writing assistance tools in assessment tasks if you are permitted to by your unit coordinator, and if you do use them, you must also acknowledge this in your work, either in a footnote or an acknowledgement section.

Studiosity is permitted for postgraduate units unless otherwise indicated by the unit coordinator. The use of this service must be acknowledged in your submission.

Simple extensions

If you encounter a problem submitting your work on time, you may be able to apply for an extension of five calendar days through a simple extension.  The application process will be different depending on the type of assessment and extensions cannot be granted for some assessment types like exams.

Special consideration

If exceptional circumstances mean you can’t complete an assessment, you need consideration for a longer period of time, or if you have essential commitments which impact your performance in an assessment, you may be eligible for special consideration or special arrangements.

Special consideration applications will not be affected by a simple extension application.

Using AI responsibly

Co-created with students, AI in Education includes lots of helpful examples of how students use generative AI tools to support their learning. It explains how generative AI works, the different tools available and how to use them responsibly and productively.

WK Topic Learning activity Learning outcomes
Week 01 Introduction and particle morphology Lecture (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7
Week 02 Particle morphology and forces Lecture (2 hr) LO3 LO4
Particle morphology Tutorial (1 hr) LO3
Week 03 Introduction to Discrete Element Method (DEM) Lecture (2 hr) LO3
Particle forces Tutorial (1 hr) LO3 LO4
Week 04 DEM Tutorial (1 hr) LO3
Guest lecturer - DEM in practice Lecture (2 hr) LO3
Week 05 Statics (bulk elasticity) Lecture and tutorial (3 hr) LO1 LO5 LO6 LO7
Week 07 Statics (bulk elasticity and bulk friction) Lecture (2 hr) LO5 LO6
Week 08 Statics (bulk friction) Lecture (2 hr) LO5 LO6
Statics (bulk elasticity) Tutorial (1 hr) LO1
Week 09 Dynamics (granular rheology) Lecture (2 hr) LO7
Statics (bulk friction) Tutorial (1 hr) LO6
Week 10 Breakage (micro to macro) Lecture (2 hr) LO2
Week 11 Dynamics (granular rheology) Tutorial (1 hr) LO7
Fluids (micro to macro) Lecture (2 hr) LO4
Breakage (from micro to macro) Tutorial (1 hr) LO2
Week 12 Revision Lecture (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7
Fluids (from micro to macro) Tutorial (1 hr) LO4

Study commitment

Typically, there is a minimum expectation of 1.5-2 hours of student effort per week per credit point for units of study offered over a full semester. For a 6 credit point unit, this equates to roughly 120-150 hours of student effort in total.

Required readings〈=en

Learning outcomes are what students know, understand and are able to do on completion of a unit of study. They are aligned with the University's graduate qualities and are assessed as part of the curriculum.

At the completion of this unit, you should be able to:

  • LO1. Provide clear and well articulated laboratory reports of physical experiments supported by well established theoretical background.
  • LO2. Estimate the bearing capacity of piles in terms of particle crushability and frictional interaction.
  • LO3. Critically understand the applicability of the discrete element method in material bulk handling and geotechnics.
  • LO4. Critically understand the mechanisms dictating fluid forces on granular media, and assess permeability in granular soils.
  • LO5. Evaluate the stresses in silos and explain their effects on their failures.
  • LO6. Determine the effect of particle properties on the shear forces developing along interfaces.
  • LO7. Critically analyse the kinematics of granular landslides using particle rheological equations.

Graduate qualities

The graduate qualities are the qualities and skills that all University of Sydney graduates must demonstrate on successful completion of an award course. As a future Sydney graduate, the set of qualities have been designed to equip you for the contemporary world.

GQ1 Depth of disciplinary expertise

Deep disciplinary expertise is the ability to integrate and rigorously apply knowledge, understanding and skills of a recognised discipline defined by scholarly activity, as well as familiarity with evolving practice of the discipline.

GQ2 Critical thinking and problem solving

Critical thinking and problem solving are the questioning of ideas, evidence and assumptions in order to propose and evaluate hypotheses or alternative arguments before formulating a conclusion or a solution to an identified problem.

GQ3 Oral and written communication

Effective communication, in both oral and written form, is the clear exchange of meaning in a manner that is appropriate to audience and context.

GQ4 Information and digital literacy

Information and digital literacy is the ability to locate, interpret, evaluate, manage, adapt, integrate, create and convey information using appropriate resources, tools and strategies.

GQ5 Inventiveness

Generating novel ideas and solutions.

GQ6 Cultural competence

Cultural Competence is the ability to actively, ethically, respectfully, and successfully engage across and between cultures. In the Australian context, this includes and celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, knowledge systems, and a mature understanding of contemporary issues.

GQ7 Interdisciplinary effectiveness

Interdisciplinary effectiveness is the integration and synthesis of multiple viewpoints and practices, working effectively across disciplinary boundaries.

GQ8 Integrated professional, ethical, and personal identity

An integrated professional, ethical and personal identity is understanding the interaction between one’s personal and professional selves in an ethical context.

GQ9 Influence

Engaging others in a process, idea or vision.

Outcome map

Learning outcomes Graduate qualities

This section outlines changes made to this unit following staff and student reviews.

No significant changes were made, given any feedback requiring attention


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