Dr Katerina Tsiampousi, the Soil Mechanics MSc course director, gives an overview of the MSc course and introduces our facilities, teaching and assessment approaches.

Should I study for a MSc in Soil Mechanics?

Watch Dr Katerina Tsiampousi, the Soil Mechanics MSc course director,  give an overview of the MSc course organization, explain the course options, introduce our facilities,  teaching and assessment approaches, highlight available scholarship opportunities, and outline post-graduation opportunities.

MSc in Soil Mechanics (H2U3), or

... [with Environmental Geotechnics (H2UN)], or
... [with Engineering Seismology (H2U4)], or
... [with Engineering Geology (H2EG)]

Established in 1950 the MSc course cluster in Soil Mechanics remains the flagship in its subject. The staff profile, present and Emeritus (including four Rankine Lecturers), and first class facilities make the course internationally renowned. Alumni from the course hold senior positions around the world and their work and engagement in the profession ensures the high reputation of these qualifications from Imperial College. Our close links with the Imperial College Engineering Geology, Environmental Engineering, Rock Mechanics and Hydrology Sections ensure that our MSc students are exposed to the latest developments in all aspects of Geotechnics.


Applications are invited from undergraduates completing their first degree, as well as those with relevant industrial and professional experience. Applications may be considered from those with degrees in other branches of engineering and earth sciences. The minimum entry requirement for consideration is a good degree from a UK university (at upper second class or above), or an overseas equivalent. Special cases, based on relevant postgraduate industrial experience, may be made in some circumstances.

Accordion - MSc Soil Mechanics

Aims and objectives

Concerned with the application of soil mechanics in engineering practice; and known for making key advances in soil mechanics such as field instrumentation, residual strength measurements, local strain measurement of soil samples, direct soil suction measurements, advanced numerical modelling procedures, constitutive models and hollow cylinder soil testing techniques. We also strive to give our MSc students a broad knowledge of practical engineering, understanding the realities of the physical world as well as the elegant theories.

The course is designed to provide students with a solid technical basis in the key areas of geotechnics through a coherent, coordinated and balanced degree programme, integrating core engineering science and recent research findings with practical application.

Full or part time study options

The full-time programme is taken over 12 months, with a single entry point per year at the beginning of October, part-time study is available on a Term Release part-time basis only.

Download the Guidance for Tier-4 Visa-dependent students for Part-Time study‌. 

Term release

The Soil Mechanics MSc programme may be taken part-time, on a term-by-term basis, as follows:

Over two years - Year One
Autumn TermSpring TermSummer Term
Attend for the whole term (11 weeks), students thereby taking the first half of the taught portion of the course. Take examination papers covering material from the Autumn Term in early January.  Project is allocated and supervision is provided.
Over two years - Year One
Over two years - Year One
Over two years - Year Two
Autumn TermSpring TermSummer Term
No attendance, supervision is provided for project work. Complete (9-10 weeks) attendance, students thereby attending the second half of the taught portion of the course. Take examination papers covering material from the Spring Term. Attend one-week field course. Supervision will continue to be provided for project work.
Over two years - Year Two
Over two years - Year One

The Dissertation will be submitted in late August of Year 2, in time for the September Examiners' meeting.


Course work will be submitted at the time required for the full-time course, that is either during Year 1 Autumn term, or during Year 2 Spring and Summer terms, or later as appropriate.

Course structure

The 4 Soil Mechanics MSc courses share approximately 80% of the curriculum (see syllabus), while the remaining 20% allow specialisation in the areas of Advanced Soil Mechanics, Engineering Seismology, Environmental Geotechnics and Engineering Geology.

Distinctive features of this programme include strong links with industry, emphasis on field-work, laboratory testing using state-of-the-art facilities and numerical analysis using in-house state-of-the-art software, and teaching by leading experts in the field of Soil Mechanics.

The course comprises two terms of lectures, tutorials, laboratory classes and individual coursework assignments and one term devoted to a research dissertation. The lab classes offer first-hand experience of experimental soil mechanics in our modern, purpose-built teaching laboratories.

The programme also includes three field trips; one weekend in each of the Autumn and Spring terms to investigate the engineering geology and geotechnical issues in two distinct areas of the UK and a one-week study tour in the beginning of the Summer term visiting several geotechnical and geological projects in Southern Europe. A year comprises two separate periods. The first includes lectures, tutorials and individual coursework assignments, the second consisting of a research dissertation.  The dissertation may be undertaken at College or in collaboration with industry. Other projects have involved a period of data collection or field study in the UK and abroad. The combined cost of these trips will be around £1,300. 


Assessments include individual and group courseworks; laboratory and fieldwork projects; presentations to industry; written and oral examinations and a research dissertation. To complete the requirements of the degree, all assessments must be undertaken to the appropriate level. Successful candidates will be awarded the MSc degree of Imperial College London and the Diploma of Imperial College (DIC).

Links with industry

Our courses are supported by a group of Companies which make up our Industrial Bursary Scheme.  Current members are: Arab Center for Engineering Studies (ACES), Ardaman & Associates Inc, Arup Geotechnics, Atkins Consultants Ltd, Fugro Geoconsulting Ltd, Geotechnical Consulting Group, Geotechnical Observations Ltd, Klohn Crippen Berger (KCB), Mott MacDonald, Royal HaskoningDHV, Tony Gee & Partners, Vattenfall and Pells Sullivan Meynink (PSM).  As well as supporting some of our students, a few of these companies host recruitment evenings during the year and also give Visiting Lectures to our students.


Our courses are supported by a group of companies which make up our Industrial Bursary Scheme. The Scheme aims to provide industrially funded bursary awards to our students. Funding normally covers the full home-level fees as well as a contribution towards subsistence costs and is available to all students. Other funding opportunities include a number of Departmental scholarships.

Companies forming the bursary group organise recruitment events and regularly recruit our MSc graduates contributing to the excellent employability record of our graduates.

Further resources for this programme

MSc Application Information

Minimum academic entry requirements

  • A good Upper Second or First Class Degree result (or International equivalent), in engineering or another numerate discipline, or Masters level degree qualification
  • Good mathematical skills (B or above at A-level or equivalent qualification)
  • Relevant Postgraduate industrial experience is favoured
  • English Language qualification (where relevant)

Applicants for whom English is not their first language will be required to present an English language qualification, passed at the appropriate level. This may follow the application if not available at the time of submission. Please see the College English language requirements for postgraduate applicants for information. Please also check that your previous study meets the minimum academic requirements by country index

Note: The Department may set higher requirements than those specified by the College as minimum entry requirements and that places are not guaranteed for any applicant.  Relevance of degrees and eligibility can be checked with the Department.  


Scholarship and funding opportunities

Visit this webpage for information about scholarships and funding opportunities

The application process and essential information


Visit this webpage for information on the application process and essential information

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