Soil Mechanics

Gain a solid understanding of the theory of geomechanics and explore the properties of solids and soft rocks 

Award titles 1-2

MSc Soil Mechanics

MSc Soil Mechanics with Environmental Geotechnics

Awards 3-4

MSc Soil Mechanics with Engineering Seismology

MSc Soil Mechanics with Engineering Geology

Key information

Duration: 1 year full-time
Start dateOctober 2022
Location: South Kensington
ECTS: 90 credits
Apply now

Overview

Our Soil Mechanics courses explore the properties of soils and soft rocks in relation to civil engineering, the theory of geomechanics and practical geotechnical engineering. They 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 with practical applications.

These courses feature strong links with industry, with an emphasis on fieldwork, laboratory testing using state-of-the-art facilities and numerical analysis using bespoke and commercial software. They are taught by leading experts in the field of geotechnics.

Graduates from these courses gain employment in a wide range of organisations, including international consultancies, contractors, governmental bodies and academic institutions. Our MSc graduates have an excellent employment record due to our strong engagement with industry.

The course is supported by an Industrial Bursary scheme, currently supported by 13 international companies, which provides scholarship awards to the best applicants to our MSc course every year.

The four course streams share approximately 80% of the curriculum, while the remaining 20% allows specialisation in the areas of advanced Soil Mechanics, Engineering Seismology, Environmental Geotechnics and Engineering Geology.

Choosing a stream

The MSc in Soil Mechanics focuses on advanced aspects of soil behaviour, related theoretical frameworks and their application to geotechnical problems.  

The MSc in Soil Mechanics with Engineering Seismology is concerned with the solution of engineering problems connected with the study of seismic ground movements, their effect on foundations and building materials and engineering structures. 

The MSc in Soil Mechanics with Environmental Geotechnics meets the growing need for advanced specialist geo-environmental education, including a grounding in the relevant topics in chemistry and biology. 

The MSc in Soil Mechanics with Engineering Geology focuses on the solution of engineering problems connected with the study of geological factors, such as soil, rock, groundwater and other natural conditions

Study programme

All of our MSc courses last one calendar year, comprising two terms of taught material followed by a research dissertation.

The courses share a core of topics covering fundamental and applied soil mechanics. Three compulsory field courses are also organised, in Kent, the Bristol area, and Southern Europe.

Professional accreditation

This degree is pending accreditation by the Joint Board of Moderators (JBM) with an outcome due in spring 2022.

Structure 

This page reflects the latest version of the curriculum for this year of entry. However, this information is subject to change.

Find out more about the limited circumstances in which we may need to make changes to or in relation to our courses, the type of changes we may make and how we will tell you about changes we have made.

Page last reviewed on 22 October 2021.

Structure

General Soil Mechanics stream

Autumn

Students from all courses will take the following modules:

  • Seepage and Consolidation
  • Strength and Deformation
  • Analysis and Constitutive Modelling
  • Site Investigation and Engineering Geomorphology
  • Geotechnics Fieldwork
  • Laboratory Testing and Data Interpretation

Spring

Students from all courses will take the following modules:

  • Geotechnical Infrastructure: Slopes and Embankments
  • Design of Foundations and Retaining Structures
  • Geotechnics Fieldwork
  • Current Developments in Geotechnical Engineering

On the general Soil Mechanics stream, you will also take the following modules:

  • Advanced Soil Mechanics
  • Applied Numerical Analysis
  • Rock Engineering
  • Geotechnical Processes & Field Monitoring

Summer

Students from all courses will take the following modules:

  • Geotechnics Fieldwork
  • Research Project

Engineering Seismology stream

Autumn

Students from all courses will take the following modules:

  • Seepage and Consolidation
  • Strength and Deformation
  • Analysis and Constitutive Modelling
  • Site Investigation and Engineering Geomorphology
  • Geotechnics Fieldwork
  • Laboratory Testing and Data Interpretation

On the Engineering Seismology stream, you will also take the following modules:

  • Geotechnical Hazards*

*This module is only available on this stream

Spring

Students from all courses will take the following modules:

  • Geotechnical Infrastructure: Slopes and Embankments
  • Design of Foundations and Retaining Structures
  • Geotechnics Fieldwork
  • Current Developments in Geotechnical Engineering

On the Engineering Seismology stream, you will also take the following modules:

  • Advanced Soil Mechanics
  • Applied Numerical Analysis
  • Geotechnical Earthquake Engineering*

*This module is only available on this stream

Summer

Students from all courses will take the following modules:

  • Geotechnics Fieldwork
  • Research Project

Environmental Geotechnics stream

Autumn

Students from all courses will take the following modules:

  • Seepage and Consolidation
  • Strength and Deformation
  • Analysis and Constitutive Modelling
  • Site Investigation and Engineering Geomorphology
  • Geotechnics Fieldwork
  • Laboratory Testing and Data Interpretation

On the Environmental Geotechnics stream, you will also take the following modules:

  • Containment Engineering*

*This module is only available on this stream

Spring

Students from all courses will take the following modules:

  • Geotechnical Infrastructure: Slopes and Embankments
  • Design of Foundations and Retaining Structures
  • Geotechnics Fieldwork
  • Current Developments in Geotechnical Engineering

On the Environmental Geotechnics stream, you will also take the following modules:

  • Advanced Soil Mechanics
  • Contaminated Land and Groundwater
  • Geotechnical Processes & Field Monitoring

Summer

Students from all courses will take the following modules:

  • Geotechnics Fieldwork
  • Research Project

Engineering Geology stream

Autumn

Students from all courses will take the following modules:

  • Seepage and Consolidation
  • Strength and Deformation
  • Analysis and Constitutive Modelling
  • Site Investigation and Engineering Geomorphology
  • Geotechnics Fieldwork
  • Laboratory Testing and Data Interpretation

On the Engineering Geology stream, you will also take the following modules:

  • Hydrogeology and Groundwater*

*This module is only available on this stream

Spring

Students from all courses will take the following modules:

  • Geotechnical Infrastructure: Slopes and Embankments
  • Design of Foundations and Retaining Structures
  • Geotechnics Fieldwork
  • Current Developments in Geotechnical Engineering

On the Engineering Geology stream, you will also take the following modules:

  • Rock Engineering
  • Contaminated Land and Groundwater
  • Geotechnical Processes & Field Monitoring

Summer

Students from all courses will take the following modules:

  • Geotechnics Fieldwork
  • Research Project

Entry requirements

We welcome students from all over the world and consider all applicants on an individual basis.

Admissions

Minimum academic requirement

Our minimum requirement is a 2.1 degree in civil engineering, natural sciences, earth sciences or a numerate discipline.

A suitable grounding in mathematics is required, for example: A-level Mathematics grade A or B.

Applicants who do not meet the academic requirements listed but who have substantial relevant industry experience may exceptionally be admitted following completion of a ‘Special Qualifying Exam’ (SQE).

International qualifications

We also accept a wide variety of international qualifications.

The academic requirement above is for applicants who hold or who are working towards a UK qualification.

For guidance see our Country Index though please note that the standards listed are the minimum for entry to the College, and not specifically this Department.

If you have any questions about admissions and the standard required for the qualification you hold or are currently studying then please contact the relevant admissions team.

English language requirement (all applicants)

All candidates must demonstrate a minimum level of English language proficiency for admission to the College.

For admission to this course, you must achieve the standard College requirement in the appropriate English language qualification. For details of the minimum grades required to achieve this requirement, please see the English language requirements for postgraduate applicants.

Competence standards

Our competence standards highlight the core skills students should be able to demonstrate by the end of this course.

View the Department of Civil Engineering's competence standards [pdf]

We believe in providing the widest practicable access to all of our degree programmes and will make reasonable adjustments wherever possible to support your study. For more information, please contact the Department using the contact details below.

Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

T: +44 (0)20 7594 5929
E: cvenquiries@imperial.ac.uk

How to apply

How to apply

Making an application

Apply online

All applicants must apply online.

Visit our Admissions website for details on the application process.

You can submit one application form per year of entry. You can usually choose up to two courses.

Application fee

If you are applying for a taught Master’s course, you will need to pay an application fee before submitting your application.

The fee applies per application and not per course:

  • £80 for taught Master's applications (excluding MBAs)
  • £135 for MBA applications

There is no application fee for MRes courses, Postgraduate Certificates, Postgraduate Diplomas or research courses, such as PhDs and EngDs.

If you are facing financial hardship and are unable to pay the application fee, we encourage you to apply for our application fee waiver. 

Find out more about the application fee and waiver

ATAS certificate

An ATAS certificate is not required for overseas students applying for this course.

Further questions?

Find answers to your questions about admissions. Answers cover COVID-19, English language requirements, Visas and more.

Visit the FAQs

Tuition fees and funding

The level of tuition fees you pay is based on your fee status, which we assess based on UK government legislation.

Find out more about fees and funding opportunities.

Tuition fees

Home rate of tuition

2022 entry

£15,400

Please note that the tuition fee amount you will pay may increase each year. Fees are charged by year of entry to the College and not year of study.

Except where otherwise indicated, the fees for students on courses lasting more than one year will increase annually by an amount linked to inflation, including for part-time students on modular programmes. The measure of inflation used will be the Retail Price Index (RPI) value in the April of the calendar year in which the academic session starts e.g. the RPI value in April 2022 will apply to fees for the academic year 2022–2023.

Fee status

Whether you pay the Home fee depends on your fee status.

Your fee status is assessed based on UK Government legislation and includes things like where you live and your nationality or residency status.

Find out more about how we assess your fee status.

EU/EEA/Swiss students

The Government has confirmed that EU/EEA/Swiss students who begin a course before the 31 July 2021 will be eligible to pay the same fee as Home students and have access to student finance for the duration of their course, as long as they meet certain requirements which are unchanged from previous years. This includes students who begin the course remotely.

EU/EEA/Swiss students starting a course on or after 1 August 2021 will no longer be eligible for the Home fee rate and so will be charged the Overseas fee. Please note we do not expect this to apply to Irish students or students benefitting from Citizens' rights under the EU Withdrawal Agreement, EEA EFTA Separation Agreement or Swiss Citizens’ Rights Agreement respectively. However, we are currently awaiting the formal publication of the amended Fees and Awards regulations.

The UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) website has useful information on the conditions you currently need to meet to be entitled to pay tuition fees at the Home rate for study on a higher education course in England and reflect the regulations as they currently stand (not the amended regulations which are subject to publication). 

UKCISA has also provided some information in response to Questions for students starting their course from the 1 August 2021.

Overseas rate of tuition

2022 entry

£35,700

Please note that the tuition fee amount you will pay may increase each year. Fees are charged by year of entry to the College and not year of study.

Except where otherwise indicated, the fees for students on courses lasting more than one year will increase annually by an amount linked to inflation, including for part-time students on modular programmes. The measure of inflation used will be the Retail Price Index (RPI) value in the April of the calendar year in which the academic session starts e.g. the RPI value in April 2022 will apply to fees for the academic year 2022–2023.

Fee status

Whether you pay the Overseas fee depends on your fee status.

Your fee status is assessed based on UK Government legislation and includes things like where you live and your nationality or residency status.

Find out more about how we assess your fee status.

EU/EEA/Swiss students

The Government has confirmed that EU/EEA/Swiss students who begin a course before the 31 July 2021 will be eligible to pay the same fee as Home students and have access to student finance for the duration of their course, as long as they meet certain requirements which are unchanged from previous years. This includes students who begin the course remotely.

EU/EEA/Swiss students starting a course on or after 1 August 2021 will no longer be eligible for the Home fee rate and so will be charged the Overseas fee. Please note we do not expect this to apply to Irish students or students benefitting from Citizens' rights under the EU Withdrawal Agreement, EEA EFTA Separation Agreement or Swiss Citizens’ Rights Agreement respectively. However, we are currently awaiting the formal publication of the amended Fees and Awards regulations.

The UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) website has useful information on the conditions you currently need to meet to be entitled to pay tuition fees at the Home rate for study on a higher education course in England and reflect the regulations as they currently stand (not the amended regulations which are subject to publication). 

UKCISA has also provided some information in response to Questions for students starting their course from the 1 August 2021.

Additional costs

Mandatory/optionalGuide to cost

This section outlines any additional costs relevant to this course, which are not included in your tuition fees. It is possible that all, or only some, of these will be relevant to you.

Please note that the figures provided are usually based on the cost in the most recent academic year. These are likely to change from year to year. However, it is useful for you to be aware of the types of things you may have to pay for and their approximate cost to help you budget for student life at Imperial.

This section indicates whether any additional costs that apply are mandatory or optional. Mandatory costs are those that you will need to pay to fully participate in and complete your studies. Optional costs are not essential to your studies so you will be free to opt out of these.

DescriptionMandatory/optionalGuide to cost
Personal Equipment (safety boots) Mandatory Please provide your own but will be available to purchase in College during the first week at around £30
Field trip to Bristol Mandatory £140
Field trip to Greece Mandatory £1000
Field trip to Kent Mandatory £140
Summary of the table's contents

Postgraduate Master's loan

If you're a UK national, or EU national with settled or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme, you may be able to apply for a Postgraduate Master’s Loan from the UK government, if you meet certain criteria.

For 2021-22 entry, the maximum amount is £11,570. The loan is not means-tested and you can choose whether to put it towards your tuition fees or living costs.

Scholarships

We offer a range of scholarships for postgraduate students to support you through your studies. Find out more about our scholarships to see what you might be eligible for.

A number of external organisations also offer awards for Imperial students. Find out more about non-Imperial scholarships.

If you are an Iranian national and are accepted to study at Imperial starting this October, you may be eligible to apply for the Irani family scholarship.

Accommodation and living costs

Living costs, including accommodation, are not included in your tuition fees.

You can compare costs across our different accommodation options on our Accommodation website.

A rough guide to what you might expect to spend to live in reasonable comfort in London is available on our Fees and Funding website.

Further information

Civil Engineering

Got a question?

T: +44(0) 20 7594 5929
E: cvpgo@imperial.ac.uk

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