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NES3203 : Geotechnical and Geophysical Investigations

  • Offered for Year: 2024/25
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Martin Cooke
  • Lecturer: Dr Mark Ireland
  • Owning School: Natural and Environmental Sciences
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus

Your programme is made up of credits, the total differs on programme to programme.

Semester 2 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 5.0
European Credit Transfer System


The aims of this module is describe the principles and applications of geophysical, borehole and laboratory investigations and give students the opportunity to learn the skills to interpret these data.

The module will cover the theory behind data acquisition, processing and interpretation. It will cover:

i) geophysical methods

ii) principles of rock and soil mechanics

iii) borehole investigations

The module will introduce the environmental, engineering, and geoenergy applications of the methods.

Outline Of Syllabus

The module will cover:

Rock and soil mechanics

Principles of soil mechanics

Principles of rock mechanics

Lab tests for soils      

Core plugs and whole core

Lab tests for defining rocks

Geophysical methods

Introduction to geophysics





Borehole investigations

How to drill a borehole

Basic principles of borehole data collection

Wireline techniques

Borehole imaging

The module will have 3 practicals (which may be desktop, computer, or laboratory based). During these practical’s students will learn how to interpret a selection of different data types with a focus on applications in the environmental, engineering, and geoenergy.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion120:0020:00Preparation for and completion of formative problem solving exercise
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion11:301:30Completion of coursework
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion100:305:00Revision
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture102:0020:00Lectures
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical33:009:00Practicals
Guided Independent StudySkills practice32:006:00Skills practice
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study132:3032:30N/A
Guided Independent StudyOnline Discussion32:006:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The module will be taught through a series of 2 hour lectures the theory and principles behind key subsurface investigative methods. Each of the primary techniques, geophysics, soil and rock mechanics, and borehole techniques, is paired with a 3 hour practical where students will learn to interpret different subsurface data types and information.

The online discussion, skills practice, independent study and assessment preparation and completion will allow students to consolidate their learning gained from both lectures and practicals and practice their skills.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Case study2M100Geotechnical or geophysical investigation or survey plan for applied project
Formative Assessments

Formative Assessment is an assessment which develops your skills in being assessed, allows for you to receive feedback, and prepares you for being assessed. However, it does not count to your final mark.

Description Semester When Set Comment
Prob solv exercises2MCompletion of 3 problems related to the practicals
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The coursework will test the knowledge and understanding of engineering geology.

Reading Lists