Last Updated S022020


Unit Name Road Design
Unit Code BCS304S
Unit Duration 1 Semester

Bachelor of Science (Engineering)

Duration 3 years    

Year Level Three
Unit Creator / Reviewer N/A
Core/Elective: Core
Pre/Co-requisites BCS204S, BCS207S
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 aim in presenting this unit is to provide students with an understanding of the theory, principles, and techniques of road design in the context of traffic engineering, with a particular emphasis on road geometry, road construction and materials. This unit will serve to synthesise much of the subject-matter covered in previous units and apply the student’s knowledge to road design scenarios.

The subject matter covered in this unit will include road planning, traffic engineering, particularly on flow theory; materials and pavement, road geometry and the related civil construction works including roadworks, drainage, plant and explosives and earthworks.

An important component of the unit is a team road design project which is a problem-based collaborative learning strategy.

At the conclusion of this unit, students will have been imparted with the requisite knowledge to undertake road design and planning and site supervision.

Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Recognise and prioritise factors involved in the planning of the roads and relate this to traffic flow theory.
    Bloom’s Level 2
  2. Evaluate the operational performance of a road (road capacity) by critically analysing the often observed traffic flow parameters.
    Bloom’s Level 5
  3. Adapt road engineering theories and principles to produce effective road design geometry.
    Bloom’s Level 6
  4. Categorise and prioritise the properties of alternative road materials to justify their selection in specific scenarios.
    Bloom’s Level 4
  5. Propose drainage and pavements systems and design and critique appropriate systems for roadworks and earthworks actions.
    Bloom’s Level 6
  6. Communicate and perform effectively on an example road design project by contributing to the production and justification of a report and presentation.
    Bloom’s Level 3

Student assessment

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

Assessment 1

Type: Multi-choice test / Group work / Short answer questions / Practical / Remote Lab / Simulation

Example Topic: Road planning & traffic consideration.

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: Multi-choice test / Group work / Long/Short answer questions / Practical / Remote Lab / Simulation

Example Topic: Geometric design; Road capacity.

Students may provide solutions to simple problems on the listed topics

Due after Topic 6 20% 2, 3

Assessment 3

Type: Multi-choice test / Group work / Short/Long answer questions / Practical / Remote Lab / Simulation / Project / Report
Example Topic: Road materials & road drainage; Roadworks OR
The road design project is designed as a problem-based learning strategy – i.e. identifying a real-world problem, gathering information, sharing information, solving the problem and finally presenting the work as a project report. Where possible CAD modelling software package could be used.
Students may complete a quiz with MCQ type answers or solve some simple problems or using software to complete a practical.

Due after Topic 9 20% 4, 5, 6

Assessment 4

Type: Examination

Example Topic: All topics

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 6

Attendance / Tutorial Participation

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

Continuous 5% 1 to 6

Prescribed and Recommended Readings

Required textbook(s)

Austroads, Guide to Road Design: Set - Part 1 - 8, Austroads Publications, Sydney, NSW.

Austroads 2007-9, Guide to Traffic Management: Parts 1-13, Austroads Publications, Sydney, NSW.

Department of Transport & Main Roads - Road Planning and Design Manual, Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads, Chapters 1-5, 13, 14, 18 & 19.

Reference Materials

Underwood, R. T. 1995, Road engineering practice, South Melbourne: Macmillan Education Australia.

Austroads, Guide to Pavement Technology Part 5: Pavement Evaluation and Treatment Design,Austroads Publications, Sydney, NSW.

Garber, NJ & Hoel LA 2009, Traffic and Highway Engineering, SI edition, 4th Edition, Cengage Learning, Stamford, USA.

Roess, RP., Prassas, E.S and McShane, W.R 2011, Traffic Engineering, 4th Edition, Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, NJ.


Unit Content


Topic 1


• The Purpose of Roads
• Basic Elements of a Road
• The Development of Roads in Australia

Topic 2

Road Planning

• Basic Considerations
• Road Classification
• The Basic Transport Planning Process
• Specific Corridor Studies
• Community Participation
• Environment Assessment
• Planning Scheme Reservations

Topic 3

Traffic Considerations

• Road-user Characteristics
• Vehicle Characteristics
• Traffic Characteristics
• Traffic Noise
• Air Pollution
• Traffic Studies

Topic 4

Geometric Design Principles

• Design Speed
• Cross-section Elements
• Sight Distance
• Horizontal Alignment
• Vertical Alignment
• At-grade Intersections
• Grade Separations and Interchanges

Topic 5

Geometric Design Practice

• Undivided Rural Roads
• Undivided Urban Roads
• Divided Rural Roads
• Divided Urban Roads
• Freeways

Topic 6

Road Capacity

• Concepts of Capacity
• Basic Definitions
• Two-lane Rural Roads
• Multi-lane Rural Roads
• Freeways
• Un-signalised Intersections
• Signalised Intersections
• Urban Roads

Topic 7


• Naturally Occurring Materials
• Crushed Rock
• Aggregate
• Bituminous Materials
• Concrete
• Geotextiles

Topic 8

Flexible Pavements and Rigid Pavements

  • Elements of Flexible Pavements
    • Types of Flexible Pavements
    • Design of Flexible Pavements
    • Construction of Flexible Pavements
    • Rehabilitation and Reconstruction of Pavements
    • Stabilisation of Pavements and Subgrades
    • Recycling of Pavement Materials
    • Tests on road sub-base and finish (such as the California Bearing Ratio (CBR))
    • Top durability and consistency
  • Elements of Rigid pavements
    • Types of rigid pavement
    • Factors used in thickness determination
    • Reinforcement design procedures

Topic 9

Roadworks, Plant and Explosives

• Basic Types of Plant
• Considerations Relating to the Use of Plant
• Explosives

Topic 10


• Preparation for Earthworks
• Cutting (or Excavation)
• Filling (or Embankment)
• Stability of Slopes and Batters
• Earthworks Calculations

Topic 11


  • Maintenance of the Natural Flow of Water.
  • Collection of Surface Water on the Road Reserve.
  • Control of Moisture in Roads

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 students’ work and to clarify any outstanding issues.

Software/Hardware Used


  • Software: N/A

  • Version: N/A

  • Instructions:  N/A

  • Additional resources or files: N/A


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