Skip to main content
Unit of study_

CIVL6450: Analysis and Design of Pile Foundations

Objectives: To develop an understanding of the modern principles of design of pile foundations and the application of those principles to practice. Outcomes: Students should gain an advanced understanding of the types of pile foundations used in practice, and the procedures for analysis of pile foundations under various types of loading, and gain experience in carrying out pile design for real geotechnical profiles. Syllabus summary: Types of piles and their uses, effects of pile installation, axial capacity of piles and pile groups, settlement of pile foundations, ultimate lateral capacity, lateral deformations, analysis of pile groups subjected to general loading conditions, piled raft foundations, piles subjected to ground movements, pile load testing, code provisions for pile design.


Academic unit Civil Engineering
Unit code CIVL6450
Unit name Analysis and Design of Pile Foundations
Session, year
Semester 1, 2020
Attendance mode Normal day
Location Camperdown/Darlington, Sydney
Credit points 6

Enrolment rules

Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff and contact details

Coordinator David Airey,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Tutorial quiz Quiz 1
20% Week 06 1 hour
Outcomes assessed: LO2 LO3
Assignment Computer assignment
30% Week 11
Closing date: 12 May 2020
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Assignment Final assignment
30% Week 13
Due date: 02 Jun 2020 at 18:00
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Tutorial quiz Quiz 2
20% Week 14 (STUVAC) 1 hour
Outcomes assessed: LO2 LO3
  • Quiz 1 and 2: Open book quiz on selected topics that have been discussed in the class.
  • Final assignment: Assignment on the selected topics in the course such as: bearing capacity of piles and pile groups,the effect of excavating next to a line of piles and lateral loading of piles.
  • DEFPIG assignment: Computer assignment to compute the deflection of a pile group under vertical and lateral loading using the program DEFPIG or equivalent. A report is to be written to professional standards outlining the results of the design.

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

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.

Special consideration

If you experience short-term circumstances beyond your control, such as illness, injury or misadventure or if you have essential commitments which impact your preparation or performance in an assessment, you may be eligible for special consideration or special arrangements.

Academic integrity

The Current Student website provides information on academic honesty, academic dishonesty, 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 dishonesty or plagiarism seriously.

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

WK Topic Learning activity Learning outcomes
Week 01 Uses of piles and pile types Lecture and tutorial (3 hr) LO2 LO4
Week 02 Ultimate vertical load capacity: single pile and pile group Lecture and tutorial (3 hr) LO2 LO3
Week 03 Ultimate lateral load capacity: single pile and pile group Lecture and tutorial (3 hr) LO2 LO3
Week 04 Vertical displacement of pile and pile groups Lecture and tutorial (3 hr) LO2 LO3
Week 05 Lateral displacement of pile and pile groups Lecture and tutorial (3 hr) LO2 LO3
Week 06 Pile-soil interaction: effect of soil movement on piles Lecture and tutorial (3 hr) LO2 LO3
Week 07 Pile numerical analysis and pile design software Lecture and tutorial (3 hr) LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 08 Non-linear pile behaviour Lecture and tutorial (3 hr) LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 09 Laboratory testing of miniature piles Practical (3 hr) LO1 LO3
Week 10 Dynamic loading of piles Lecture and tutorial (3 hr) LO2 LO3
Week 11 Piled raft foundations Lecture and tutorial (3 hr) LO2 LO3
Week 12 Pile load testing Lecture and tutorial (3 hr) LO2 LO3
Week 13 Current issues in pile design Lecture and tutorial (3 hr) LO2 LO3

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

All readings for this unit can be accessed through the Library eReserve, available on Canvas.

  • Poulos, H.G and Davis, E.H., Pile Foundations. John WIley and Sons, 1983.

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. write reports for design assignments and present them in a professional manner
  • LO2. understand how to design piles and pile groups to current professional standards, and report the work accordingly
  • LO3. apply theories learnt in class to design problems involving piles
  • LO4. use the Internet to seek information, use commercial pile design software and use Word and Excel in producing reports.

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
A site visit will be arranged as previous feedback suggested this would be very valuable


The University reserves the right to amend units of study or no longer offer certain units, including where there are low enrolment numbers.

To help you understand common terms that we use at the University, we offer an online glossary.