Reliability and Risk in Geotechnical Engineering Practice

Geotechnical engineering deals with large uncertainties compared to other engineering domains. Our estimates of soil and rock properties are typically based on a limited amount of site investigation, while spatial variability is large. Hence, it is not surprising that reliability and risk approaches have undergone a rapid development in academia in the last decades, but there are also increasing numbers of applications to practical projects. For example, the safety assessments of flood defenses in the Netherlands are fully probabilistic since 2017.

Also reliability-based design is increasingly being applied to complex geotechnical structures such as LNG terminals. As infrastructures age and many structures approach their design life, another rapidly growing issue of concern is the reliability assessment of existing structures. Such assessments call for the use of observations of performance, measurements, and monitoring data to update reliability estimates.

Course description

This course focuses provides geotechnical practitioners and (graduate) students with the reliability and risk analysis basics applied to geotechnical engineering, as well as an overview of recent applications and developments. Course participants will be able to carry out basic reliability analyses of geotechnical applications themselves, and they will be enabled to critically judge and interpret the results of reliability analyses carried out by others. Our aim is to provide a stepping stone to use reliability concepts to your advantage in your geotechnical engineering practice, providing added value to your clients and stakeholders.

Topics covered include probability, reliability and risk fundamentals and application of reliability and reliability updating to pile foundations, dikes and levees, as well as deep foundations. Lectures on the theoretical backgrounds will be accompanied by hands-on exercises and demonstrations of state-of-the-art applications.

For whom?

The course is targeted at practicing engineers who would like to extend their toolbox by developing and enhancing their probabilistic skills, as well as (PhD)students working in in geotechnical reliability and risk. The course starts with the basics of reliability analysis extending further to advanced applications. Participants are expected to have undergraduate-level knowledge of statistics and probability theory (will be recapped briefly).


The registration fee for this two-day course is € 1.125,- excluding VAT.
50% discount for lecturers at centers of education.

Course leaders

The course leaders are Dr. Timo Schweckendiek and Dr. Wim Kanning (Deltares & Delft University of Technology).


This course was part of the Delft Software Days – Edition 2019 (DSD-INT).