Faculdade de Ciências e Tecnologia

Slope Stability



Academic unit

Faculdade de Ciências e Tecnologia


Departamento de Ciências da Terra



Teacher in charge

Pedro Calé da Cunha Lamas

Weekly hours


Total hours


Teaching language



Students should understand basic concepts and acquire skills that enable them to identify the mechanisms of mass movements. They also should have the skills to perform the necessary studies in order to obtain the physical and mechanical parameters they need to apply the methodologies used on slope stability assessment.


No special requirements, but the previous attendance of Strength of Materials and Soil Mechanics classes (1st cycle) is advisable.

The participation in, at least, two thirds of the practical classes is required, unless the student is under a special status.

Subject matter

Definition for slope and mass movement; slope stability problems; some historic events.
Geomorphologic evolution of slopes: erosion and mass movements; classification systems; mass movement factors and causes. Methods of investigation in the laboratory and in the field.
Stability analysis methods; limit equilibrium condition; global and partial (Eurocode 7) safety factors; short term and long term analysis. Stability analysis of rock slopes; kinematic analysis using stereographic plot; rock slope classifications by Slope Mass Rating index. Limit equilibrium analysis for planar slides. Stability analysis of soil slopes; planar failure surfaces (Culmann and “infinite” slope methods); circular failure surfaces (fi=0 method; slices methods; stability charts).  Computer program procedures for slope stability calculations (SLOPE-W and others). Slope stabilization and protection; slope monitoring.


Abramson, L.; Lee, T.; Sharma, S.; Boyce, G. 1996. Slope stability and stabilization methods. John Wiley & Sons

Cernica, J.N. 1995. Geotechnical engineering: Soil mechanics; Chap10, 11, John Wiley & Sons Inc

Dikau, R.; Brunsden, D.; Schrott, L.; Ibsen, M.-L. (ed.) 1996. Landslide recognition: Identification, movement and causes; John Wiley & Sons

González Vallejo L. (Coord.) 2002. Ingeniería geológica. Prentice Hall

Hoek, E. & Bray, J. 1994. Rock slope engineering. Chapman & Hall (Instit. of Mining and Metallurgy), London, 3 ed 

Nash, D. 1989. A comparative review of limit equilibrium methods of stability analysis. In M.G. Anderson & K.S. Richards (ed.) Slope stability, John Wiley & Sons, London, Chap. 2, 11-73

Smoltczyk, U. (ed.) 2002. Geotechnical Engin. Handbook, Ernst & Sohn, ed.; Vol.1; Chap.1.13, 1.15 

Teaching method

Theoretical classes with audiovisual media support (Powerpoint). Practical classes which include office work, solving problems using different methods of slope stability evaluation and discussion of some slope stability studies performed in Portugal. Two documents in pdf format, one of them where the syllabus are exposed, the other one a notebook of practical exercises, are available to the students through the Clip platform. Some bibliography is also provided. Study visit to the slopes near the campus, where different failure mechanisms as well as several remedial works can be observed and discussed.

Evaluation method

Final grade: the sum of the results of three tests with respectively 25%, 30% and 30% of the final grade (or a t-p final exam), plus a set of practical homework exercises and a field trip report (summative assessment) with 20% of the final grade. A minimum of 9,5 is required as passing grade. No query is admitted in the tests with the exception of a form that is provided by the teacher.