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Unit of study_

CIVL6456: Energy Geotechnics

Semester 2, 2020 [Normal day] - Camperdown/Darlington, Sydney

This is an advanced course on geotechnical engineering. The Unit of Study will focus on the design and analyses of geotechnical applications related to energy and sustainability. This course covers essential geotechnical design concepts related to some of the current and emerging energy projects, starting from the governing mechanisms controlling heat and mass transfer, to designing geothermal foundations and geological storage facilities, as examples. Other energy geotechnical problems include the design and analyses of offshore foundations for oil and gas platforms, which must sustain unique and harsh loading conditions, and carbon geosequestration facilities subjected to high temperatures, pressures and hydrological conditions. The course concerns with the constitutive behaviour of soils, including stress, strain, heat and mass transfer, and the application of this knowledge in practical engineering problems. Theme topics related with these materials will be discussed with specific emphases on the areas of energy and environmental engineering. This course aims to develop theoretical and numerical skills for students interested in structural and geotechnical engineering.

Unit details and rules

Unit code CIVL6456
Academic unit Civil Engineering
Credit points 6
Assumed knowledge

[CIVL2410 OR CIVL9410] AND [CIVL3411 OR CIVL9411]

Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff

Coordinator Yixiang Gan,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Presentation Mesoscale modelling presentation
Mesoscale modelling presentation (20%)
20% Week 06 5 hours
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO3 LO4 LO5
Assignment Reports
(1) Mini-assignment (10%); and (2) Heat equation report (10%), each 3-5 ps.
20% Week 06 10 hours
Outcomes assessed: LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6
Assignment Literature review
Lit. review presentation and report (20%) with a report of about 5 pages
20% Week 09 15 hours
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO5 LO4 LO2
Presentation group assignment Design projects
FEM application with Geothermal pile;
20% Week 12 3 hours
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO7 LO5 LO4 LO2
Assignment Final report
Final report (20%), with a written report of about 10 pages.
20% Week 12 10 hours
Outcomes assessed: LO2 LO6 LO5 LO4 LO3
group assignment = group assignment ?

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 Lecture and tutorial (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7
Week 02 Thermodynamics and basic concepts Lecture and tutorial (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7
Week 03 THM model -1/3 Lecture and tutorial (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7
Week 04 THM model -2/3 Lecture and tutorial (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7
Week 05 THM model -3/3 Lecture and tutorial (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7
Week 06 Design of energy geo-structures 1/3 Lecture and tutorial (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7
Week 07 Design of energy geo-structures 2/3 Lecture and tutorial (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7
Week 08 Design of energy geo-structures 3/3 Lecture and tutorial (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7
Week 09 Foundation design of offshore wind turbines 1/2 Lecture and tutorial (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7
Week 10 Foundation design of offshore wind turbines 2/2 Lecture and tutorial (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7
Week 11 Geological CO2 Sequestration 1/2 Lecture and tutorial (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7
Week 12 Geological CO2 Sequestration 2/2 Lecture and tutorial (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7
Weekly UoS Lectures and Tutorials Lecture (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7

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.

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. source information from literature effectively, critically analyse the conclusions, and identify the assumptions used and limitations of the existing approaches
  • LO2. determine the design parameters for given geotechnical engineering conditions based on a rational consideration of soil factors
  • LO3. identify the contributing factors influencing thermo-hydro-mechanical (THM) behaviour of soils and explain their interactions, using the theoretical framework of poromechanics
  • LO4. explain models used in predicting THM behaviour of geo-materials, including their practical requirements and potential limitations
  • LO5. operate the poromechanics models using real laboratory data to produce meaningful results, and critically evaluate the quality of lab data and ensure readiness for use in soil behaviour modelling for energy geotechnics
  • LO6. produce soundly-based interpretations of soil modelling results, giving due consideration to assumptions and limitations of the data used and those to the model used
  • LO7. engage with alternative possible interpretations of the same results, critically examine the merits of each and draw appropriate conclusions.

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.

This Unit of Study will be adapted to 12-week teaching mode in this semester.


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.