BA8304 - Soil Modelling


Lessons are not given in the academic year 2023/2024

Course content

The course is given every second year, next time fall semester 2024. Finite element based computer codes for geotechnical analysis are today frequently used in design by consulting engineers. This course provides a background for development and application of soil models in such computer tools. This is done by focusing on soil behavior, elasto-plastic theory, hyperplasticity using thermodynamics, some material models and their parameters. In addition the course aims at providing a theoretical framework for understanding the mechanical behavior of soils. A short summary of relevant continuum mechanics is given in the first lectures followed by a detailed presentation of simple models based on Tresca and Coulomb. The main principles are discussed with emphasis on shear hardening in combination with dilatancy control. Further a model based on "Critical State Soil Mechanics" with volumetric hardening will be covered. The models will be evaluated partly by using a thermodynamic approach and compared to observed soil behavior from laboratory tests. An introduction to more advanced models is given together with a discussion of current research topics. Algorithms for implementation in computer codes are covered.

Learning outcome

Knowledge: The candidate should have knowledge of: - how elasto-plastic stress-strain relations for soils are formulated and how these relations may describe the strength and stiffness of soils Skills: The candidate is able to: - develop simple numerical models for soil behavior - modify existing numerical soil models - assess input parameters for characterising relevant elasto-plastic soil behaviour - test the characteristic behaviour of the model General competence: The candidate can: - understand the soil behaviour in the theory frame of elasto-plasticity - describe field and laboratory tests through elasto-plastic numerical soil models - implement soil models in a finite element program

Learning methods and activities

The course is taught in English and is made up by intensive lecturing in combination with exercises. The course is offered in the fall semester every second year (2022, 2024). To pass the course a score of at least 70 percent is required.

Compulsory assignments

  • Exercises

Specific conditions

Admission to a programme of study is required:
Engineering (PHIV)

Required previous knowledge

Good insight in geotechnical engineering and engineering mechanics.

Many of those who follow this course are external candidates, whether from the industry, other universities etc. Note that if you wish to follow the course the semester it runs, but are not affiliated with the PhD programme in Engineering at NTNU, please contact our PhD coordinator,

Course materials

Lecture notes in English will be available from Geotechnical Divison, NTNU.

More on the course



Version: 1
Credits:  10.0 SP
Study level: Doctoral degree level



Language of instruction: English

Location: Trondheim

Subject area(s)
  • Structural Engineering
  • Geotechnical Engineering
  • Technological subjects
Contact information

Department with academic responsibility
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering


  • * The location (room) for a written examination is published 3 days before examination date. If more than one room is listed, you will find your room at Studentweb.

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