Structural and Foundation Engineering MSc/Diploma
- Delivery: Full Time, Part Time, Distance Learning
- Programme type: Taught Programme
- Study location: Edinburgh
- Entry date: January, September
This programme is designed for graduates and practising engineers who wish to improve their knowledge of structural and foundation engineering. The structure and content of the programme has been carefully designed following liaison with a wide range of employers in the sector.
This programme builds directly on staff research activities which comprise experimental, numerical and theoretical work. Students also have access to excellent practical facilities for static, dynamic and impact testing. Advanced computer and networking facilities, including state-of-the-art parallel processing capability, are also available.
Part-time and Distance Learning study options
This programme can be studied on a part-time basis or via Independent Distance Learning (IDL), ideal for those in employment or with other commitments, providing flexible study options that fit around work or family. As an IDL student you will not be required to attend any lectures, tutorials or other events at any of Heriot-Watt University’s campuses.
The Institute for Infrastructure and Environment (IIE)
This programme is delivered by Heriot Watt University’s Institute for Infrastructure and Environment. As a Structural and Foundation Engineering postgraduate student you will be part of the Institute’s Graduate School, connecting you with staff, research associates and fellow students engaging in cutting-edge research in areas such as water management, ultra-speed railways, construction materials, geomechanics and more.
This degree is accredited as meeting the requirements for Further Learning for a Chartered Engineer (CEng) for candidates who have already acquired an Accredited CEng (Partial) BEng (Hons) or an accredited IEng (Full) BEng/BSc (Hons) undergraduate first degree. See the Joint Board of Moderators (JBM) for further information.
The direct relationship between the programme and industry needs is reinforced in two ways: through projects with an industrial context; and through specific aspects of the taught courses, for example, presentation of case studies and seminars. There are also opportunities for visiting lecturers from relevant sectors to get involved in teaching part of the courses.
This programme is also supported by the Civil Engineering Industry Advisory Committee, which includes representatives from major multi-national employers AECOM, ARUP, Balfour Beatty, Halcrow, Jacobs and WSP Group. This committee convenes regularly and advises on the programme content and structure, ensuring quality, up-to-date content and relevance to industry needs.
Teaching and research excellence
Our teaching staff is engaged in a wide range of research, with 50% of that research recognised as being internationally excellent by the most recent Research Assessment Exercise (RAE 2008).
With a history dating back to 1821, Heriot-Watt is one of the UK’s leading universities, and Scotland’s most international. Find out more about Heriot-Watt University’s reputation, rankings and international profile.
The curriculum of Structural and Foundation Engineering, led by Professor Laghrouche, covers the specialist technical and computational skills necessary for today’s construction industry and therefore offers excellent preparation for employment across an industry that includes consulting and contracting engineers, public authorities and local government. In addition, the programme also provides a suitable springboard for graduates seeking a career in a research lead environment.
Both MSc and Diploma students undertake the eight taught courses listed below.
|Semester 1||Semester 2|
Please find below the course descriptions. For more information on courses, please contact the Programme Leader.
Indeterminate StructuresSemester 1 (mandatory)
This course aims to provide students with a variety of techniques to analyse forces and displacements in linear, statically determinate and statically indeterminate skeletal structures. In this context, the course enables learners to strengthen their ability to model such structures and to understand the relationship between the mathematical models used in analysis and the behaviour of the real-world structures. It also introduces the safe and efficient use of commercial software packages for the static analysis of linear elastic beam and the plastic analysis of frames structures, as well as the modelling of structural behaviour in a laboratory environment, providing an awareness of health and safety issues in the latter. Subjects covered in the syllabus include:
Statically indeterminate structures; moment distribution; plastic analysis of frames.
Ground EngineeringSemester 1 (mandatory)
The overall aim of this course is to provide the students with detailed knowledge and understanding in ground engineering for geotechnical engineers, extending the knowledge gained in undergraduate geotechnical courses to allow the learners to apply theoretical design and analysis to practical problems. Subject that are covered in this course include:
Site investigation and soil sampling techniques; analysis of slope stability problems and failure modes; earth pressure analysis and retaining walls; application of geotextiles in geotechnical, highway & railway engineering; methods of ground improvement through compaction, grouting, consolidation and drainage.
Safety, Risk and ReliabilitySemester 2 (mandatory)
This course aims to provide the students with an appreciation and understanding of the basic principles of structural reliability theory. It provides an introduction to concepts of structural safety and risk, as well as probability theory and probability distributions. Specific topics covered in the course syllabus include:
Probabilistic modelling of strength and loads; first order second moment and first order reliability methods; reliability-based code calibration; Monte-Carlo simulation and variance reduction techniques; Introduction to causes of structural deterioration (corrosion, fatigue and fracture); risk based inspection strategies using Bayesian methods.
Earthquake EngineeringSemester 2 (mandatory)
This course aims to provide students with an understanding of the nature of seismic forces and the response of structures subjected to such loading, as well as to provide learners with an introduction to earthquake-resistant design and the seismic assessment of structures. The main subjects covered in the course syllabus include:
Introduction to engineering seismology; waves in elastic media; introduction to Eurocode 8; simplified and multi-modal response spectrum analyses; elastic & inelastic systems; time history and frequency domain analyses; soil-structure interaction – transmitting boundaries; methods of seismic structural assessment; structural repair and strengthening techniques.
Foundation EngineeringSemester 2 (mandatory)
The overall aim of this course is to provide the student with knowledge and understanding of the geotechnical design process, equipping learners with appropriate methods of analysis for settlement and bearing capacity calculations, as well as in examining appropriate national codes and Eurocodes and their implications in geotechnical design. The course syllabus includes the following topics:
Introduction to foundation types (e.g. shallow footings; piled foundation types); deformation due to surface loading (e.g. stress distributions; elastic displacement; settlement theory; bearing capacity; consolidation); bearing capacity of foundations (e.g. shallow footings; active/passive pressures; general bearing capacity methods); Piles (e.g. forces and load transfer; capacity; soil types; pile group behaviour)
The research activities of the programme involve combinations of experimental, numerical and theoretical work. The School has excellent practical facilities for static, dynamic, and impact testing and it has access to advanced computer and networking facilities that include a state-of-the-art parallel processing computer.
MSc students are also required to submit a research dissertation, the research topic normally aligns with the research interests of the staff in the School but can be tailored to suit the interests of the student or student’s employer. Distance learning and part time students are encouraged to suggest project topics based on their own work experience.
At the discretion of the Programme Leader, MSc students may choose to nominate a research project which enables them to investigate a problem they have encountered in their workplace or elsewhere. The research project can be undertaken in conjunction with a suitable industrial partner on campus or in industry if the industrial partner has the facilities to provide adequate supervision.
Professor Laghrouche is a Lecturer in Earthquake Engineering and Structural Dynamics. His research interests lie in the general area of Applied Scientific Computing with a particular emphasis on elastic and acoustic waves, soil-structure interaction, non-reflecting boundary conditions, finite and infinite elements, meshless methods, non-linear modelling and parallel computing.
The additional staff members who deliver the programme have wide ranging expertise in specialist subjects which include reinforced concrete technology, dynamic and impact testing of materials, offshore engineering, structural safety, soil-structure interaction and numerical modelling.
- DegreeMSc Structural Engineering
- Present Job PhD student at Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, Australia
Can you tell us a bit about what you're currently doing?
I am in my first year as a PhD student doing research in increasing the sustainability of concrete bridges using Fibre Reinforced Polymers (FRP) materials.
How is the work you do influencing tomorrow's world?
Sustainable development is a key issue in tomorrow’s world, the research fits in the category of using new reasonably priced material in retrofitting concrete structures that will expand the service life of the structure with low cost of maintenance.
Why did you decide to come to Heriot-Watt over other places offering similar courses?
I navigated via internet through many universities that offer MSc programmes in civil engineering and found that Heriot-Watt is unique in offering a degree in Structural and Foundation Engineering in addition to its excellent campus with beautiful Scottish environment.
What was your experience of doing a postgraduate degree at Heriot-Watt University?
It was a nice experience for me personally as an international student. I found the modules during the first semester are slightly difficult but in the second semester I became more familiar with the teaching system. I made good friendships with many students and staff from UK as well as from other countries.
I learnt new topics during the courses which provided me with a solid background of knowledge which has helped me a lot in my current PhD project. Also, I've gained very good skills through the experimental work that I’ve done in my research semester (dissertation).
What advice would you give to a postgraduate student considering embarking on their studies at Heriot-Watt?
Heriot-Watt University is unique in its diversity in programs; especially the School of the Built Environment has a wide spectrum of specialities that will fit in with the ambition of any student. Since my time at HWU I have encouraged many students in different countries in the world to complete their postgraduate studies at HWU.
- DegreeMSc Structural and Foundation Engineering
- Present Job PhD student, Heriot-Watt University
Sara Mezher graduated from the MSc Structural and Foundation Engineering programme in 2013.
Can you tell us about your PhD?
I am currently enrolled in a Railway Engineering PhD. The main purpose of the PhD research is related to the behaviour of railway track dynamics and the development of high-speed train performance. The objective of this study is to use and continue to develop a 3-dimensional dynamic finite element program that can model the behaviour of the high-speed train interaction with the track and ground. The program is called DART3D (Dynamic Analysis of Railway Track, 3-dimensions).
What was your experience of doing a postgraduate degree at Heriot-Watt University?
My Heriot-Watt postgraduate experience was unique and pleasant. It helped me develop my knowledge and expertise and boost my educational background with focusing on specialized fields. Moreover, faculty staff and the board of doctors were extremely supportive as they encouraged me to accomplish my dreams, widen my ambitions and aim for higher levels of education.
Do you think your Heriot-Watt postgraduate experience gave you an edge in your chosen field and why?
This experience was so beneficial because it honed my skills in learning analysis methods that are directly related to my PhD study such as Finite Element Analysis and focusing on important points and educational background that are needed in my PhD.
Furthermore, the Institute of Infrastructure and Environment held many seminars in different fields that were helpful in developing my understanding of major aspects related to my PhD. I also attended events organized by IIE that allowed me to meet PhD students and view their work which helped me in learning from their experience.
What advice would you give to a postgraduate student considering embarking on their journey at Heriot-Watt?
Since it is a once-in-a-lifetime chance, they should seize every opportunity, strengthen relationships with their professors and colleagues and enhance communication skills which will help them in their future plans. I would advise them to work hard to develop their skills and find the right balance between studying and socializing to benefit completely from this great experience.
Recent graduates have gained employment in a multitude of engineering consultancies, civil engineering contractors, local and national government organisations and research establishments.
For MSc level entry applicants must have:
- Minimum of 2:2 honours degree or equivalent academic qualification in cognate and semi-cognate subject area. For PG conversion programmes, non-cognate degrees will be considered. Corporate (or chartered) membership of relevant professional institutions will also be considered.
For PG Diploma level entry applicants must have:
- Third class honours degree in a cognate or semi-cognate subject area PLUS 2 years of relevant experience at an appropriate level completed post qualification.
- Cognate or semi-cognate ordinary degree PLUS 3-4 years of relevant experience at an appropriate level following graduation.
- Candidates who do not meet the above entry requirements or have no formal academic qualifications will be considered individually based on their CV and interview. Admission via this route will be at the discretion of the Director of Admissions and the number of successful applicants will be restricted.
There is no entry at PG Certificate level except through exceptional agreement with approved learning partners.
Non-graduating study at masters level:
- Entry is based on CV or on formal academic qualifications or graduate (or incorporated) membership of a relevant professional institution.
Distance Learning January entry
Distance learning students can choose to start their studies in January or September. The January intake is not available to students studying on-campus.
English language requirements
If English is not the applicant’s first language a minimum of IELTS 6.5 or equivalent is required with all elements passed at 6.0 or above.
Applicants who have previously successfully completed programmes delivered in the medium of English language may be considered and will be required to provide documentary evidence of this. Examples would be secondary school education or undergraduate degree programme. A minimum of at least one year of full time study (or equivalent) in the medium of English language will be required.
Distance learning students
Please note that independent distance learning students who access their studies online will be expected to have access to a PC/laptop and internet.
|Scotland / Non-UK EU||£4980||£2690||£1050/£750|
* If you are unsure which category you fall in to, you should complete a fee status enquiry form, which allows us to assess your fees.
** Fee per course
Additional fee information
** £1050 per course, £750 per research project
Scholarships & bursaries
- Alumni Scholarship Scheme
- Carnegie-Cameron Taught Postgraduate Bursaries
Applicants must be Scottish by birth, have at least one parent born in Scotland or have been continuously resident in Scotland for a period of three years for the purpose of secondary or tertiary education.
- Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan
International (Commonwealth citizens)
- Department for International Development (DFID) Commonwealth Shared Scholarship Scheme(SBE)
International (Commonwealth citizens)
- Department for International Development (DFID) Commonwealth Shared Scholarship Scheme
- East Lothian Educational Trust
Applicants must be a resident of the old county of East Lothian (ie excluding Musselburgh, Wallyford and Whitecraig.)
- India Scholarship(SBE)
Students who have applied via the Heriot-Watt India office. Please note that this award is available for study at our Edinburgh campus only.
- Leverhulme Trade Charities Trust
Restricted to residents of the UK who are a son, daughter, spouse, widow or widower of a commercial traveller, chemist or grocer.
- Local Education Authority Awards
- Mexican Scholarships
- Music Scholarships
- Part-time Fee Grant (SAAS)
See SAAS residence conditions.
- Postgraduate Student Allowance Scheme (SAAS)
EU and UK applicants who meet the SAAS criteria on eligible courses
- Remission of Fees (families of staff)
Spouses/civil partners and children of members of staff, also retired members of staff of the University
- Royal Caledonian Schools Trust
Applicants must be of Scots parentage (conditions apply - see below)
- SFC Key Skills Funded Places (SBE)(SBE)
Applicants resident in Scotland who accept an offer for an eligible Programme
- Scotland's Saltire Scholarships
Citizens of Canada, the People's Republic of China, India or USA (2 awards for each country)
- Sports Scholarships
- Staff Scholarships
Employees of Heriot-Watt University
- The Consumer Affairs UK Scholarship Programme
All currently enrolled students
- The Muirhead Trust
Scottish, female applicants for science and engineering courses
- West Lothian Educational Trust
Individuals must have originated in West Lothian or have lived there for the last 3 years.