Last Updated S012021


Unit Name Engineering Surveying
Unit Code BCS205S
Unit Duration 1 Semester

Bachelor of Science (Engineering)

Duration 3 years    

Year Level Two or Three
Unit Creator / Reviewer N/A
Core/Elective: Core
Pre/Co-requisites BSC101C
Credit Points


Total Course Credit Points 81 (27 x 3)

Mode of Delivery Online or on-campus. 
Unit Workload (Total student workload including “contact hours” = 10 hours per week; 5 hours per week for 24 week delivery)
Pre-recordings / Lecture – 1.5 hours
Tutorial – 1.5 hours
Guided labs / Group work / Assessments – 2 hours
Personal Study recommended – 5 hours

Unit Description and General Aims

The objective in presenting this unit is to introduce students to surveying equipment, services, theory, measurement techniques, and introduce advanced engineering survey calculations.

Surveying is a key element in most civil engineering projects requiring the development of land and infrastructure. The services of the surveyor may be required at many stages of a construction project or project works requiring land development. At the conclusion of this unit, students will have acquired the requisite specialist knowledge to undertake many aspects of surveying work.

The subject matter covered in this unit will include surveying theory and its field practices; angular and distance measurement methods; and, survey adjustment techniques to data from a survey traverse. This will be contextualised to the latest developments in digital and automation technologies.

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this Unit, students are expected to be able to:

  1. Demonstrate a broad knowledge of surveying theory and its field practices.
    Bloom’s Level 2
  2. Examine and apply angular and distance measurement methods.
    Bloom’s Level 4
  3. Examine and apply survey adjustment techniques to data from a survey traverse.
    Bloom’s Level 4
  4. Incorporate a broad knowledge of Global Positioning Systems into surveyed data.
    Bloom’s Level 2
  5. Solve plane coordinate areas and volumetric problems (in real-world earthworks applications) using an automatic level to undertake traverses by correctly reducing data.
    Bloom’s Level 3

Student assessment

Assessment Type When assessed Weighting (% of total unit marks) Learning Outcomes Assessed

Assessment 1

Type: Multi-choice test 

Students may complete a quiz with MCQ type answers and solve some simple equations to demonstrate a good understanding of the fundamental concepts.

Due after Topic 3 15% 1

Assessment 2 

Type: Short answer questions

Example Topic: Error and uncertainty, Measurement Techniques, Levelling, Distance measurement

Students may be asked to provide solutions to simple problems on various topics.

Due after Topic 6 20% 1, 2

Assessment 3

Type: Practical / Remote Lab / Simulation / Project / Report

Example Topics: Interpretation of levelling survey and contours, existing land profile from survey data, horizontal alignment, grades and vertical profile of proposed works, geometry design for cross-sections, area of cross-sections, cut-fill volume estimations etc., Students may complete a quiz with MCQ type answers or solve some simple problems or use software to complete a practical project.

Due after Topic 10 20% 3, 4

Assessment 4

Type: Examination

Example Topic: All topics with an emphasis on Logarithms and Matrices

An examination with a mix of detailed report type questions and/or simple numerical problems to be completed in 3 hours

Final Week 40% 1 to 5

Attendance / Tutorial Participation

Example: Presentation, discussion, group work, exercises, self-assessment/reflection, case study analysis, application.

Continuous 5% 1 to 5

Prescribed and Recommended Readings

Required textbook(s)

McCormac, JC, Sarasua, W & Davis, W 2012, Surveying, 6th Edition, Wiley, Hoboken, NJ.

Reference Materials

Schofield, W & Breach M, 2007, Engineering Surveying, 7th Edition, Elsevier Linacre House, Jordan Hill, Oxford OX2 8DP, UK. ISBN–13: 978-0-7506-6949-8

Uren, J & Price, WF 2006, Surveying for engineers, 4th Edition, Palgrave MacMillan, Basingstoke, England.

Unit Content


Topic 1

Basic concepts of surveying and measurement

• Definition
• Types of Surveys
• Modern Surveying Equipment
• Measurement
• Error and uncertainty
• Sources of Errors
• Systematic and Accidental or Random Errors
• Probability Curve
• Propagation of Accidental or Random Errors
• Significant Figures
• Field Notes
• Electronically Recorded Notes
• Planning of the Survey

Topic 2

Distance Measurement

• Introduction
• Pacing
• Tachymetry
• Taping or Chaining
• Electronic Distance Measurements
• Equipment required for taping
• Taping over level ground
• Taping along the sloping ground or over underbrush

Topic 3

Distance Corrections

• Types of Corrections
• Incorrect Tape Length or Standardization Error
• Temperature Variations
• Slope Corrections
• Sag and Tension Corrections
• Combined Taping Corrections
• Common Mistakes Made in Taping
• Errors in Taping
• Magnitude of Errors
• Suggestions For Good Taping
• Electronic Distance Measuring Instruments (EDMs)

Topics 4 & 5


• Introduction
• Basic Definitions
• Reference Elevations or Datums
• First-, Second-, and Third-Order Surveys
• Methods of Leveling
• The Level
• Types of Levels
• Level Rods
• Setting Up the Level
• Sensitivity of bubble tubes
• Differential Leveling
o Earth’s Curvature and Atmospheric Refraction
o Verniers
o Level Rod Targets
o Common Leveling Mistakes
o Leveling errors
o Suggestions for Good Leveling
o Precision of differential leveling
o Hand signals
• Adjustments of Level Circuits
• Precise Leveling
• Profile Leveling
• Profiles
• Cross Sections
• Non-closed Leveling Routes



Topic 6

Angles and Directions

• Meridians
• Units for Measuring Angles
• Azimuths
• Bearings
• The Compass
• Variations in Magnetic Declination
• Reading Bearings With a Compass
• Traverse
• Traverse computations

Topic 7

Measuring Angles and Directions with Total Stations

• Introduction to Total Stations
• Types of Total Stations
• Advantages and Disadvantages of Total Stations
• Parts of Total Stations
• Surveying with Total Stations
• Measuring Horizontal Angles
• Measuring Zenith Angles
• Use of Data Collectors with Total Stations
• Traversing in details
• Modern traversing with total stations
• Common errors in angle measurement
• Common mistakes in measuring angles

Topic 8

Traverse Adjustment and Area Computation

• Introduction
• Traverse adjustment overview
• Balancing angles
• Latitudes and departures
• Error of closure
• Balancing latitudes and departures
• Double meridian distances
• Rectangular coordinates
• Areas computed by coordinates
• Alternative coordinate method
• Areas within irregular boundaries

Topic 9

The Global Positioning System (GPS)

• Introduction to GPS
• Basic theory of GPS
• GPS errors
• Minimizing errors through differential correction
• Receivers
• GPS Field Applications

Topic 10

Earthworks & Volumes

• Introduction
• Slopes and slope stakes
• Partition of land
• Cross-sections
• Measuring areas of irregular cross sections with a polar-planimeter
• Computation of earthwork volumes
• Mass diagram
• Accounting for shrinkage and swell

Topic 11

Horizontal and Vertical Curves

  • Horizontal Curves
  • Vertical Curves
  • Introduction to Super Elevation Development

Topic 12

Unit Review

In the final week, students will have an opportunity to review the contents covered so far. Opportunity will be provided for a review of student work and to clarify any outstanding issues.

Software/Hardware Used


  • Software: AutoCAD and Excel (Optional)

  • Version: N/A

  • Instructions:  N/A

  • Additional resources or files: N/A


  • N/A