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Training Course: Practical Foundation Design

22 - 29 February 2024
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Event type:
Contributes to CPD, Course, Online Training
Organised by:
Geological Society Events, Online Training
The Geological Society, Burlington House
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Practical Foundation Design

This course will be held in person at Burlington House on 22 February 2024. There will be a follow up online session on 29 February 2024.

An introduction to the design of shallow foundations and piles in accordance with Eurocodes and BS 8004:2015 code of practice for foundations. Consideration is given to the selection of the parameters used in design and how to obtain them, giving guidance on the applicability of both insitu and laboratory testing.

Many practitioners conduct works or specify works to obtain the basic parameters for design, but do not fully understand how the results are used, in particular the sensitivity of the chosen methods and parameters. This course is designed to provide a greater understanding of the foundation design process and the factors which influence the outcomes. By providing a better understanding of the process of foundation design, attendees are better able to inform the process. The course will help attendees understand the reasons for good sample quality and appropriate testing methods. By the end of the course attendees should be able to carry out basic foundation bearing capacity calculations, assess settlement using a simplified method, and be able to obtain working loads for individual piles.

This course is suitable for engineering geologists, geoscientists and environmental engineers who work in the geotechnical field and those whose academic experiences have not included engineering in terms of foundations and foundation design. It is also very useful for those who have studied foundation design at degree level but have not used this since, and as such are looking for a refresher. Others, such as environmental engineers who have focused on the environmental issues but find that they also require an understanding of geotechnical engineering will also find this course useful.

Attendee feedback from this course:

'The course was an interesting and informative introduction into the design of simple shallow foundations with assessment of settlement and basic pile bearing capacities. Pete was a brilliant speaker and very knowledgeable about the subject.'

JJ, Geoenvironmental Engineer

Please note that a welcome breakfast, lunch and refreshments will be provided for this course on 22 February 2024.

Email [email protected] if you have any special dietary requirements or state on the registration form

The course starts by looking at what can go wrong if foundation design is not carried out in a through and considered manner. The course introduces the codes and standards used to direct foundation design , these include BS code of practice for foundations BS 8004 and the Eurocode suite with particular reference to BS EN 1997 parts 1 and 2 ( shortly to become 1,2, and 3).

Emphasis is given to how to choose the parameters for use in the design process by providing an overview of the methods of obtaining soil samples and testing them as well as the use of Insitu tests. Consideration is given to the reliability of the results obtained and how to assess the design values.

The course then looks at the differences in the behaviour of cohesive and granular soils and how this influences the way foundations perform. The distribution of loading on the soil is discussed, leading to the introduction of Terzaghi’ s formula for the calculation of bearing capacity. The load distribution is also presented using Boussinesq stress distribution curves.

The various geotechnical design methods which are given in BS EN 1997 are discussed. The ULS and SLS design methods are presented and Partial factors are discussed. The use of method 1 with combinations of partial factors 1 and 2 are then used to look at the design of a pad foundation example. The calculations are determined to assess the suitability of the example scenario. The attendees will the carryout further calculations to assess the most economic foundation solution for the example scenario.
Having obtained the foundation size in terms of bearing capacity the settlement of the foundation is then determined. this discussion first looks at the stress distribution beneath the foundation, discusses how to determine the Cv and Mv values for a soil succession and the performs a calculation using the integral of vertical stress curves determined from the Boussinesq stress distribution curves and hence assess the settlement contribution for successive layers of the soils in a real life example is used to do this.

The course continues by looking at other foundation solutions and the various forms of pile foundation. An exercise is conducted to calculate a simple pile foundation design by determining the skin friction and base load of an example pile. This is carried out as group exercise.
The course concludes with a brief overview of ways to improve the ground, such as stone columns surcharging and grouting.

    1. To understand the foundation design process and the codes which define the methods used
    2. Be aware of the importance of data collection methods to obtain reliable parameters for design to determine bearing capacity and settlement 
    3. To recognise the differences in the behaviour of cohesive and granular soils as founding mediums 
    4. To understand the limitations of the results from laboratory and field test in the choice of appropriate parameters for design
    5. To complete a basic foundation design calculations to determine foundation size bearing capacity and settlement and carryout a basic pile design 
    6. To understand the process of foundation choice and what can be done to improve the ground

Peter Reading - Director at Peter Reading Geotechnical Consulting Ltd and visiting lecturer at The University of Portsmouth 

Peter has over 50 years of experience in the Geotechnical Industry predominantly within the Site Investigation sector. This experience is reinforced with academic qualifications and membership of geotechnical bodies. He is a Chartered Geologist and a Chartered Scientist and is a UK Registered Ground Engineering Adviser. He has held various positions from engineer to Director. This has given him a wealth of practical experience, being involved in numerous diverse engineering projects and producing design data both in the field and laboratory as well as designing foundations and ground engineering solutions for projects across the UK. 

He frequently provides lectures to both undergraduates and post graduate students at both Brunel University and the University of Portsmouth where he is currently a Visiting Reader.

Peter has been actively involved in a number of industry initiatives aimed at improving knowledge and practice in the geotechnical industry; he is a co-opted member of the executive committee of the BGA. As an independent specialist, he is part of an AGS Site Investigation working Group to report and guide on the state of geotechnical engineering in the UK.

Author of a number of technical papers Peter is currently writing a Handbook of Site Investigation for Engineers which is due to be published in 2022.

This course will be held over two days.

The first and main part of this course will be held at Burlington House, Piccadilly, London on 22 February, with a virtual follow up session on 29 February.

Approximate timings are listed below.

22 February (Burlington House):

9.45 - Register, and teas, coffees and breakfast pastries

10.00 - Course begins

11.30 - Tea break

11.45 - Course resumes

13.15 - Lunch

14.00 - Course resumes

15.30 - Tea break

17.00 - Course finishes (however it may run slightly over)

29 February (Online):

15.00-17.00 Course follow up and Q&A with speaker Pete Reading

Registration fees

Due to this course being held in person with interactive tasks and small group exercises, we have a limited number of places. Register and reserve your place now, so that you don't miss out. Fees include a welcome breakfast, lunch and refreshments on 22 February 2024.

 Member  £375 
 Non-Member  £750
 Corporate Patron  £375
 Student Member  £100
 Student Non-Member   £200 

We offer students a generous discount (as above). Please verify your student status by registering with your student email address and uploading a photograph of your student identification/ acceptance letter.

Group discounts and concessions

The society offers a limited number of concessionary rates for those in financial hardship. Please contact [email protected] (please note you may be required to provide details/evidence to support your application for this rate).

We offer a 20% discount for a group of 5 or more for this course, please email [email protected] to enquire.


Please contact [email protected] with any enquiries.

Register now