Kies de Nederlandse taal
Course module: 202200308
Geo Risk Assessment
Course infoSchedule
Course module202200308
Credits (ECTS)5
Course typeCourse
Language of instructionEnglish
Contact persondr. H. Cheng
Contactperson for the course
dr. H. Cheng
dr. H. Cheng
Academic year2022
Starting block
Application procedureYou apply via OSIRIS Student
Registration using OSIRISYes
The design of geotechnical structures conventionally follows a deterministic approach. Single values of soil properties obtained in field or laboratory tests are assigned to distinct regions of the problem domain to perform deterministic analyses. For geostructures that require high reliability, e.g., dikes, embankment, the risk of failure needs to be properly evaluated, taking into account uncertainties in both material characteristics and spatial variability as in the field.
In a probabilistic approach, these uncertainties are quantified and modeled using random variables, random fields, and processes, etc. These key concepts in statistics and probability theory are combined with conventional geotechnical analysis methods, either analytical, empirical, or numerical, to form predictive tools for managing risks and uncertainty in geotechnical design and construction processes.

Main topics
The Geo Risk Assessment course follows the book Risk assessment in Geotechnical engineering by G. A. Fenton & D. V. Griffiths. The course consists of 9-10 lectures, 4 tutorials, 1 group project, and 1 written and 1 oral exam. Topics covered in the lectures include
  • Basics of statistics and probability theory
  • Statistical methods for analyzing geotechnical data, including probability density functions, modeling of point and spatial statistics, and their estimation
  • Reliability-based design and first-order methods
  • Data assimilation
Tutorials are combined with mini-lectures to get students familiar with the following key aspects of geotechnical engineering.
  • Constitutive modeling of geomaterials (e.g., Mohr-Coulomb, Critical state soil mechanics)
  • Seepage flow in soil
  • Numerical methods: finite element method
  • Analysis of measurement data and construction of random fields
  • Monte Carlo simulation
  • Reliability and probability of failure
Grading scheme
  • Written exam (30%: statistics and probability theory, estimation of soil statistics, e.g., examples from the lectures)
  • Assignments (10%)
  • Group projects (40%: application of random finite element method to geotechnical engineering problems)
  • Group project presentation, followed by oral exam sessions (20%)
Additional info
Links to the other courses:
•    Hydraulic engineering
•    Geo-statistics
•    Engineering statistics
•    Data analysis
•    Soil mechanics
•    Advanced Soil Mechanics

Is knowledge of programming skills necessary for this course? If yes, please specify the skills / knowledge of which programme(s) is / are needed.
MATLAB or Python

Assumed previous knowledge
Soil Mechanics; Statistics

Advanced soil mechanics; Soil Mechanics; Hydraulic engineering
Participating study
Master Civil Engineering and Management
Participating study
Master Construction Management and Engineering
Required materials
Course material
Risk assessment in Geotechnical engineering G. A. Fenton & D. V. Griffiths isbn 978-0-470-17820
Recommended materials
Instructional modes
Presence dutyYes


Presence dutyYes

Project supervised
Presence dutyYes

Presence dutyYes

Self study without assistance

Presence dutyYes


Kies de Nederlandse taal