Deep Excavations in Urban Areas





Offered by

Civil Engineering




For exchange/transfer students:
General admission requirements and basic knowledge about soil mechanics/geotechnical engineering.

Main purpose

The main purpose of the course is to provide an overview of different aspects of deep excavations with particular focus on installation methods as well as influence of ground water. 


After completion of the course, the student will have knowledge of:

  • Execution of deep excavations and construction pits
  • The main characteristics and risks connected to different types of retaining walls
  • One- and two-dimensional ground water flow
  • Calculation of gradient, critical gradient and the risk of base failure
  • Different methods for ground water lowering


After completion of the course, the student will have the skills to:
  • Compare the suitability of different types of retaining walls
  • Calculate the critical gradient and check for risk of base failure
  • Calculate the influence of flowing ground water on earth- and water pressure on retaining structures
  • Perform calculations on the drawdown for ground water lowering in confined and unconfined ground water aquifers


After the course, the student will be able to apply knowledge and skills to:
  • Discuss the suitability of different types of retaining walls in urban applications for most soil and ground water conditions
  • Evaluate risks of constructing deep excavations
  • Design and plan simple ground water lowering systems
  • Evaluate the influence of ground water on excavations and retaining walls


  • Execution of construction pits
  • Installation methods for retaining walls
  • Influence of ground water on excavations
  • Design of ground water lowering installations

Teaching methods and study activities

4 lectures per week for 12 weeks will be implemented, corresponding to a 137,5-hour workload for the student. Study activities are:
– Lectures
– Consultations
– Independent study
– Exercises/assignments
– Excursion
Student Activity Model
CATEGORY 1 (Participation of lecturer and students, initiated by the lecturer) (31%)
Comprises 48 lectures of 45 minutes (42 hours) varying between lectures, exercises and course assignments (as consultation)
CATEGORY 2 (Participation of students, Initiated by the lecturer) (50%)
Preparation for lectures,  assignments, self-study, preparation for exam (70 hours).
CATEGORY 3 (Participation of students, initiated by students) (15%)
Self study, independent jobsite visits, field trips, etc. (20 hours)
CATEGORY 4 (Participation of lecturer and students, initiated by students) (4 %)Identify and present to class problems, observations, solutions or similar (5,5 hours)


-Deep excavations and slopes in urban areas. Niels Leo Buch Christensen and Søren Fisker (will be made available on course page – Itslearning)

Notes on:
– Ground water lowering, Lotte Thøgersen (will be made available on course page – Itslearning)
– Miscellaneous web pages from leading international ground engineering contractors and equipment manufacturers
– More information will be given during the course.




Type of exam:
Oral exam, 20 minutes. 
Internal assessment.
Allowed tools:
Personal notes
Same as the ordinary exam.

Grading criteria

Grading based on the Danish 7-point scale.​

Additional information



Jan Hockerup

Valid from

2/1/2024 12:00:00 AM

Course type


Construction pits, retaining walls, influence of ground water, ground water lowering