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Engineering, Geology, Geotechnics

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University of Portsmouth’s Industrial Alliance in Engineering Geology & Geotechnics starts to show results

The University of Portsmouth is the only institution in the UK to offer an undergraduate degree in Engineering, Geology and Geotechnics. It has been running for over 40 years since its launch in 1967.

The overarching ethos of the degree is to prepare graduates with a good science background for a career in the ground engineering industry. Our students are focussed individuals who have identified this unique degree as a gateway to a satisfying professional career in the civil, mining or offshore sectors.

Up until 2008 the degree was a standard three year full time degree. However, in order to boost numbers and the calibre of students we decided a re-think was in order. In close collaboration with a number of major ground engineering companies we developed a sandwich version of our undergraduate degree with an associated Industrial Bursary Scheme. The scheme offers selected students a bursary of £1,750 per year plus a paid 8 week placement at the end of Level 1 and a paid 44 week placement at the end of Level 2.

The main objectives of this course restructuring are:

  1. To increase the pool of talented employable Engineering Geologists and Geotechnical Engineers in the UK
  2. To attract high quality students with good Science A-levels, Diploma or IB qualifications into the Profession of Engineering Geology and Geotechnical Engineering
  3. To secure a sustainable cohort of high quality students joining the B.Eng in Engineering Geology and Geotechnics (Sandwich) Degree pathway at the University of Portsmouth
  4. To forge strong links between the ground engineering industry and the University of Portsmouth

The sandwich degree and bursary scheme has had the desired effect – our second intake (2010-11) is up by 30% to 30 students, the majority with at least 2 science subjects or equivalent at A-level. The first intake of students onto the sandwich is at present seeking industrial placements for 2011-12.

We currently have seven companies actively involved in providing the bursary which is the main driver for recruitment. Therefore the key to the degree’s continued success and growth is support from Industry by either offering placements or bursaries. Our aim is to increase the number of bursaries on offer so we expand the course with high quality science based students who will feed into the UK ground engineering industry.

The foundation of our degree lies in the geological sciences which are built upon in Level 2 with Units taken in Soil Mechanics, Rock Mechanics, Hydrogeology, Ground Investigation, and Engineering Geology of the UK. In Level 3 these subjects are developed into Units in Rock Engineering, Geotechnical Engineering, Contaminated Land, and Landslides and Slope Stability. Underpinning the degree is an integrated field work program where key skills such as geological & geomorphological mapping, soil & rock description, and rock mass characterisation are developed. Transferable skills such as geotechnical report writing, air photo interpretation, use of geotechnical software packages, and GIS are also embedded into the curriculum.

If you would like to find out more about the degree course or the Industrial Bursary scheme, please contact the Programme Manager Nick Koor:, t. (023) 9284 8484. Details can also be found about the course and Bursary on our web site

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In a bid to overcome skill shortages, 15,000 copies of NCE insite go to schools and colleges every term to tell students, teachers, parents and careers advisor’s the potential and variety of careers available in civil engineering, construction and the built environment.

The AGS is a patron of Insite and helps to sponsor a ‘Ground’ related page in each issue.

Do you have a project that will catch the imagination of young would-be geotechnical engineers?

A photograph with a teenage icon in the background (or foreground!)?

Is your remediation project saving the planet? (or the fish, the flora, the fauna …)

In short, anything with youth appeal is wanted. This is not an opportunity for self promotion. It’s an opportunity to communicate the excitement, the challenge, the variety and the satisfaction that keeps you here.

Contributions can be sent at any time – to the AGS for forwarding to the editor