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ES95A - Tunnel Construction Methods

Module Leader: Dr Alan Bloodworth

BTS Champion: Colin Eddie FREng, Managing Director, Morgan Sindall UnPS

(30 Credits)

This module is one of a set of core modules for the MSc course in Tunnelling and Underground Space.


hub shaft

image courtesy of Morgan Sindall

Aims : 

This module establishes a framework for the MSc course allowing students to recognise the diversity and complexity of underground excavations and associated works. The subject is first placed within a historical context and then discusses current issues and future direction of the industry.

The module provides a detailed consideration of the techniques that may be employed in the excavation of underground space and the circumstances in which they may be successfully utilised. Support of underground openings is dependent upon the ground conditions, excavation size and shape and excavation method employed, this module therefore provides guidance for support selection. Excavations require services such as ventilation, electricity, transportation of materials and personnel etc. Students will therefore consider how a project should be organised to provide the necessary services.

This module also aims to provide the theoretical background to the practical task of ensuring the underground excavation is accurately positioned. This involves controls for setting out and monitoring excavation progression. Consideration is also given to the prediction and monitoring of surface displacement above underground openings which forms an important restriction on urban sub-surface works.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Evaluate a project specification and ground conditions to select appropriate methods for excavation, support and ground improvement.
  • Critique concepts for the future use of underground space and innovative methods of construction.
  • Systematically describe and classify underground works according to type, use and construction methods.
  • Evaluate at least one current technical challenge or issue in tunnelling.
  • Understand drained and undrained heading stability and how it can inform choice of construction method.
  • Predict and design a monitoring scheme for ground movements resulting from underground excavations and perform damage assessments on buildings.

Illustrative Bibliography:

David Chapman, Nicole Metje, Alfred Stärk, Introduction to Tunnel Construction, Spon Press, pp.390, 2010 (ISBN 978-0-415-46842-8)

Krishan Kaul, Cut-and-Cover Metro Structures (Geo-Structural Design: An Integrated Approach), Spon Press, pp.672, 2010 (ISBN 978-0-415-46907-4)

Vittorio Guglielmetti, Piergiorgio Grasso, Ashraf Mahtab, Shulin Xu (eds.), Mechanized Tunnelling in Urban Areas, Taylor & Francis, pp. 504, 2007 (ISBN 978-0-415-42010-5)

Ratan Tatiya, Civil Excavations and Tunnelling – a Practical Guide, Thomas Telford, pp.322, 2005 (ISBN 978-0-7277-3340-5)

Nick R. Barton, TBM Tunnelling in Jointed and Faulted Rock, Taylor & Francis, pp. 184, 2000 (ISBN 9058093417)


30 CATS module: Test (20%), Exam (80%)