Last Updated S022020


Unit Code MCS604
Unit Duration 1 Term (online) or 1 Semester (on-campus)

Master of Engineering (Civil: Structural)

Duration: 2 years  

Year Level 2nd
Unit Creator / Reviewer Professor Jason Ingham and Dr Hylton Macdonald
Core/Elective: Core
Pre/Co-requisites None
Credit Points


Grad Dip total course credit points = 24

(3 credits x 8 (units))


Masters total course credit points = 48

(3 credits x 12 (units) + 12 credits (Thesis))

Mode of Delivery Online or on-campus. 
Unit Workload

10 hours per week:

Lecture – 1 hour

Tutorial – 1 hours

Practical / Lab – 1 hour (where applicable)

Personal Study recommended – 7 hours (guided and unguided)

Unit Description and General Aims

In many developed nations the existing built infrastructure is approaching or has already exceeded its original design life.  In some cases, this infrastructure has been categorised as having heritage status, and depending on the age of the structure it is often found that little is known about the original design or the current condition of the constituent structural materials. In addition, most structures typically degrade over time whilst at the same time being subjected to larger magnitudes of loading than was originally intended.  For these reasons the study of the structural characteristics of existing infrastructure is more complex than the design of new infrastructure. 

This unit will introduce infrastructure asset management and deterioration modelling. Methods used to survey, instrument, and establish material properties of existing infrastructure based on non-destructive and destructive testing will be introduced. Specific issues will be addressed related to the condition assessment of unreinforced masonry structures, reinforced concrete structures, and steel structures.  The unit will conclude with the introduction of common methods for structural refurbishment of these different classes of structures.

Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Judge and critique the challenges associated with managing existing infrastructure and the principle of infrastructure asset management;
    • Bloom’s Level 5
  2. Evaluate the constituent material properties of aged infrastructure using a variety of techniques;
    • Bloom’s Level 5
  3. Plan condition assessment for bridges to address corrosion and durability issues;
    • Bloom’s Level 6
  4. Determine preliminarily assessment of unreinforced masonry, reinforced concrete, and steel buildings for durability and seismic scenarios;
    • Bloom’s Level 5
  5. Make judgements on fatigue assessment;
    • Bloom’s Level 5
  6. Optimise a range of options used to strengthen unreinforced masonry, reinforced concrete, and steel buildings.
    • Bloom’s Level 5

Student assessment

Assessment Type

(e.g. Assignment - 2000 word essay (specify topic)

Examination (specify length and format))

When assessed

(eg Week 5)
Weighting (% of total unit marks) Learning Outcomes Assessed

Assessment 1

Type: Multi-choice test (Proctored)

Topic: Up to topic 3

Example Topic: Bridge (or infrastructure) asset management
After Topic 3 15% 1-3

Assessment 2

Type: Proctored test / Report / Research / Paper / Case Study / Site Visit / Problem analysis / Project / Professional recommendation

Example: Short/Long answers and Problems to solve

Topics:  Up to topic 6

After Topic  6 25% 1-4

Assessment 3

Type: Practical / Project Report

Word length: 2000

Example Topic: Undertake a preliminary seismic assessment of an historic unreinforced masonry building. Establish the hierarchy of failure modes and forecast capacity versus seismic hazard at the site.

Different structural forms (URM, RC, Steel) can be studied in different years. Software Simulations are also recommended.

After Topic 9 25% 1-5

Assessment 4

Type: Project Report

Word length: 3000

Example Topic: Prepare a durability assessment report from the field and/laboratory tests and site inspection information for a reinforced concrete structure and prepare repair/remedial/retrofitting solutions for the client.

After Topic 12 30% 1-6

Tutorial Attendance & Participation

Continuous 5% 1 -6

Prescribed and Recommended readings

Required textbook(s)

D. Frangopol and Y. Tsompanakis (2014). Maintenance and Safety of Aging Infrastructure: Structures and Infrastructures, CRC Press. (ISBN 9780415659420).

Robert T. Ratay (2005). Structural Condition Assessment. John Wiley & Sons. (ISBN-13: 978-0471647195)

Costa, Aníbal, Arêde, António, Varum, Humberto (eds) (2018). Strengthening and Retrofitting of Existing Structures. Springer (ISBN 978-981-10-5858-5)

Recommended textbook(s)

  1. C. Lloyd (2012). International Case Studies in Asset Management, ICE Publishing. (ISBN 978-0727757395)
  2. C. Lloyd (2010). Asset Management - Whole-Life Management of Physical Assets, ICE Publishing. (ISBN 978-0-7277-3653-6)
  3. J. W. Bull (2015). Life Cycle Costing: For the Analysis, Management and Maintenance of Civil Engineering Infrastructure, Whittles Publishing. (ISBN 978-1849951487).
  4. J. M. Barsom and S. T. Rolfe (1999). Fracture and Fatigue Control in Structures - Applications of Fracture Mechanics, ASTM International. (ISBN 978-0-8031-2082-2).
  5. Zhao. X-L (2017). FRP strengthened Metalic Structures. CRC Press. (ISBN 9781138074330)
  6. Gehlen, C.; Matthews, S.; Osterminski, K.; Straub, D.; Kessler, S.; Mayer, T.F.; Greve-Dierfeld, V. S.; Zintel, M (2011). Condition Control and Assessment of Reinforced Concrete Structures Exposed to Corrosive Environments (Carbonation / Chlorides), fib bulletin (ISBN 978-88394-099-4)
  7. R. Al-Mahaidi and R. Kalfat (20018), Rehabilitation of Concrete Structures with Fiber-Reinforced Polymer, Butterworth-Heinemann, (ISBN-10 : 0128115106)
  8. ASCE (2002). Guideline for Structural Condition Assessment of Existing Buildings. ASCE. (ISBN (PDF): 978-0-7844-7048-0)
  9. The Seismic Assessments of Existing Building. ISBN:978-0-478-43366-1 (Online)

Reference Materials

Number of peer-reviewed journals and websites as advised below (and during lectures);

  1. National and international technical journals.
  2. Specific material to be advised during the lectures.

Unit Content

One topic is delivered per contact week, with the exception of part-time 24-week units, where one topic is delivered every two weeks.


Topic 1

Characteristics of aging infrastructure

  1. Typical infrastructure state in developed nations;
  2. Characteristics of aging infrastructure and increased loading conditions;
  3. Infrastructure asset management maintenance programs;
  4. Deterioration modelling.

Topic 2

Site testing

  1. Structural health monitoring and instrumentation;
  2. Site inspection and sample collection;
  3. Destructive and non-destructive testing methods.

Topic 3

Bridge Inspection, Monitoring and Assessment

  1. Bridge inspections and monitoring
    1. Different Levels of inspections
    2. Detailed Engineering Investigations and monitoring
  2. Bridge Assessment for heavy vehicle loading
  3. Inspections of other road structures (e.g. Major Signs and Gantries, Retaining Walls, Noise Walls)

Topic 4

Bridge Maintenance and Bridge Asset Management

  1. Different Bridge Maintenance Programs
    1. Preventive Maintenance (condition-based maintenance)
    2. Major maintenance (Strengthening, rehabilitation, replacement)
  2. Bridge Asset management and Life Cycle Cost Analysis
    1. Current bridge managements systems
    2. Application of deteriorations models in bridge managements
    3. Risk-based bridge Management

Topic 5

Assessment and retrofitting of existing Unreinforced Masonry Structures

  1. Site inspection:
    1. Condition assessment;
    2. Site testing and sample extraction.
  2. Seismic Assessment:
  3. Repairs and Retrofiring/Strengthening of unreinforced Masonry Structures

Topic 6

Durability, Seismic and Condition Assessment of existing Reinforced Concrete Structures

  1. Site inspection:
    1. Condition assessment;
    2. Site testing and sample extraction.
  2. Common failure modes:
    1. Examples from past earthquakes;

Topic 7

Durability, Seismic and Condition Assessment of existing Steel Structures

  1. Site inspection:
    1. Condition assessment;
    2. Site testing and sample extraction.
  2. Common failure modes:
    1. Examples from past earthquakes.

Topic 8

Fatigue assessment

  1. Nature of fatigue loading;
  2. Characteristic failure modes;
  3. Techniques for fatigue assessment.

Topic 9

Materials and Methods for Reinforced Concrete Surface Repairs

  1. Concrete surface repair materials
    1. Cementitious-based repair materials
    2. Epoxy-based repair materials
  2. Repair methods
    1. Cracks repairs
    2. Spalling repairs
    3. Surface treatments
  3. Cathodic Protections

Topic 10

Structural Strengthening retrofitting of Reinforced Concrete Structures

  1. Objectives of strengthening.
  2. Common techniques:
    1. Core walls;
    2. Jacketing of columns and joints;
    3. Shear strengthening of frames;
    4. Diaphragm strengthening.
  3. FRP Strengthening

Topic 11

Structural Refurbishment and Strengthening -of Steel Structures

  1. Objectives of strengthening.
  2. Common techniques:
    1. Beam-column joints;
    2. Modification of sway mechanisms;
    3. Buckling restrained braces and added dampers;
    4. Steel plate shear walls.

Topic 12

Case studies of critical failures and notable retrofit successes

  1. Structures failures
    1. 1983 Mianus River Bridge (corrosion and fatigue)
    2. 1989 Cyprus Street Viaduct (collapse during 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake)/Australian example
    3. Review of events in 1989 Newcastle earthquake (Australia focus, low / moderate seismicity)
    4. Review of events in 2011 Christchurch earthquake (Representative building stock for a developed nation, high seismic zone)
  2. Structural remediation or retrofits:
    1. Coatings / painting (Sydney Harbour bridge maintenance example); West Gate Bridge Strengthening
    2. Cathodic protection (i.e. Swansea Bridge at Lake Macquarie in New South Wales);
  3. Successes from Canterbury earthquakes:
    1. Arts Centre URM buildings (Post-tensioning, FRP);
    2. Heritage Hotel;
    3. Multiple examples submitted to Canterbury Earthquakes Royal Commission.

Engineers Australia

The Australian Engineering Stage 1 Competency Standards for the Professional Engineer, approved as of 2013. This table is referenced in the mapping of graduate attributes to learning outcomes and via the learning outcomes to student assessment.

Stage 1 Competencies and Elements Competency
1. Knowledge and Skill Base
1.1 Comprehensive, theory based understanding of the underpinning natural and physical sciences and the engineering fundamentals applicable to the engineering discipline.
1.2 Conceptual understanding of the mathematics, numerical analysis, statistics, and computer and information sciences which underpin the engineering discipline.
1.3 In-depth understanding of specialist bodies of knowledge within the engineering discipline.
1.4 Discernment of knowledge development and research directions within the engineering discipline.
1.5 Knowledge of engineering design practice and contextual factors impacting the engineering discipline.
1.6 Understanding of the scope, principles, norms, accountabilities and bounds of sustainable engineering practice in the specific discipline.
2. Engineering Application Ability
2.1 Application of established engineering methods to complex engineering problem solving.
2.2 Fluent application of engineering techniques, tools and resources.
2.3 Application of systematic engineering synthesis and design processes.
2.4 Application of systematic approaches to the conduct and management of engineering projects.
3. Professional and Personal Attributes
3.1 Ethical conduct and professional accountability.
3.2 Effective oral and written communication in professional and lay domains.
3.3 Creative, innovative and pro-active demeanor.
3.4 Professional use and management of information.
3.5 Orderly management of self and professional conduct.
3.6 Effective team membership and team leadership.

Software/Hardware Used


  • Software: N/A

  • Version: N/A

  • Instructions:  N/A

  • Additional resources or files: N/A


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