2023-2024 / GCIV0642-1

Design and Construction of Bridges


40h Pr, 40h Proj.

Number of credits

 Master of Science (MSc) in Civil Engineering3 crédits 


Frédéric Gens

Language(s) of instruction

English language

Organisation and examination

Teaching in the first semester, review in January


Schedule online

Units courses prerequisite and corequisite

Prerequisite or corequisite units are presented within each program

Learning unit contents

The course is structured around two teaching activities which are closely linked. During the first unit, the teacher will describe the main lines of the design of a bridge (4 sessions of 4 hours, english). The following themes will be addressed:

  • Brief history of bridges;
  • Concept of designing of a bridge (aesthetics, integration, etc.);
  • Detailed description of the different typology of bridge (beam, arch, cablestayed, suspended, mobile, others, ...);
  • Designing a bridge (definitions of specific loads, calculation of steel bridges, calculation of concrete bridges, special case of footbridges, etc.);
  • Equipment;
  • Maintenance.
The second teaching activity, which constitutes the final goal of the course, is the study of a pre-design of a bridge on the basis of specifications (4 sessions of 4 hours, english). This preliminary design will make it possible in particular to define the typology, the static diagram and the main dimensions of the structure chosen to cross the proposed valley. It will be requested to pre-dimension the main load-bearing elements based on the courses of metal construction and / or reinforced / prestressed concrete as well as on the Eurocodes. Finally, the possible construction methods will be discussed.
Students will be guided in this study by the teacher and / or design office engineers.

Learning outcomes of the learning unit

At the end of this teaching unit, the student will be able to react in the manner of a practicing engineer.

In particular, he will be able to think about different technical solutions of bridges to cross a valley. From a technical point of view, the student will master the knowledge seen during the course but also during the global cursus and will be able to apply them. He must also be able to apply the design aspects (choice of a type of bridge, integration into the site, usual slenderness of structures). He will be able to use information provided by third parties and to research information himself (scientific literature, academic and industrial contacts, etc.), such as detailed plans, geotechnical data on the site studied, specific regulations. ... to carry out its reflections. He will also be able to present the essential results of his reflections using the appropriate means of communication (technical reports, oral presentations, summary report, establishment of concise plans and diagrams).

An important facet of the project is group work, like the operation of a design office. The constraints linked to the group must be mastered: organization, distribution of work, pooling of results, ability to make compromises ...

This course contributes to the learning outcomes I.1, I.2, II.1, II.2, III.1, III.2, III.3, III.4, IV.1, IV.3, IV.4, V.1, VI.1, VI.2, VI.3, VI.4, VII.1, VII.2, VII.4, VII.6 of the MSc in civil engineering.

Prerequisite knowledge and skills

Globally, all the subjects covered during the studies of Civil engineering will be needed. Particularly, a deep knowledge, validated by 2 to 3 courses (bac or master level), is necessary in the following domains:
- Structure mechanics,
- Steel structures,
- Reinforced concrete,
- Finite element method,
For the students who achieved their master at ULiege, it corresponds to the courses of bloc 0 and bloc 1:
Bloc 1:
GCIV0201-2: Technologie des bétons et matériaux nouveaux
GCIV0643-1: Structures en béton précontraint et maçonnerie
GCIV0644-1: Structures métalliques et mixtes acier-béton
GCIV0646-1: Conception et exécution des bâtiments
GCIV0607-2: Analyse des structures I
GCIV2037-1: Analyse des structures II
Bloc 0:
MATH0006-3: Introduction to numerical analysis (anglais)
MECA0001-2: Mécanique des matériaux
LANG0039-2: Anglais 2, English for Engineering (anglais)
MATH0067-1: Introduction aux statistiques et probabilités
GCIV0184-5: Matériaux de construction
MECA0012-6: Mécanique des solides
GCIV0603-2: Géotechnique et infrastructures
GCIV0608-1: Introduction à l'ingénierie des constructions
GCIV2172-1: Calcul d'éléments métalliques
GCIV2173-1: Béton armé (anglais)

Planned learning activities and teaching methods

The "theoretical" course constitutes a state of the art supported by an oral presentation of numerous existing bridges. The course is based on power-point presentations, a copy of which in pdf format will be provided digitally before each course.

For the predesign of a bridge, students will work in small groups on the project that has been defined for them, in the presence and with the help of the professor, assistants or engineers. It is expected from them that, on the basis of specifications which will be presented to them, they carry out the preliminary design of a structure by going through the following stages:

  • Knowledge of data
  • Loading assumption
  • Proposal of two sketches of bridge meeting the criteria (static diagram, cross section and type of materials)
  • Reasoned choice of the sketch to study for the predesign
  • Pre-sizing of the structure selected (longitudinal, transverse, load transfer to support, sizing of the main sections)
  • Proposal of a construction method
  • Writing of a final report
For the drawing of sketches, it will be a question of defining the type of bridge on the basis of exchanges, reflections on the means of access, the relief, the integration into the site. Different options will be considered, predesign on the basis of simple calculations and manually drawn to scale.

Students will have to rely on documents whose references will be provided to them. The project will be the subject of a summary report containing the conclusions and important stages of each chapter.

Mode of delivery (face to face, distance learning, hybrid learning)

Face-to-face course

Recommended or required readings

Exam(s) in session

Any session

- In-person

oral exam

Written work / report

Additional information:

The study of the pre-design of the bridge will be formalized by the drafting of a calculation note (report) summarizing the work carried out. The quotation for this part will be valued at 50% of the final quote of the course. This part of the evaluation cannot be repeated in the second session.

The oral exam will be structured around three parts:

  • "Theoretical" question on the design and sizing of bridges;
  • Technical discussion on the basis of a random photo of a carried-out bridge (type of bridge, type of material, possible construction method, ...);
  • Question concerning the pre-design calculation note delivered by the student's group.
The examination quote will be valued at 50% of the final course quote.

Work placement(s)

Organisational remarks and main changes to the course

The course is given during the first quadrimester, with some exceptions on Thursday morning between 8:30 am and 12:30 pm.

The dates scheduled at 04/09/23 are as follows:

14/09 : First course

21/09 : Second course

28/09 : Third course

05/10 : First session of pre-design project

12/10 : Second session of pre-design project

19/10 : Fourth course

26/10 : Third session of pre-design project

09/11 : Fourth session of pre-design project


Submission of the final report of the pre-design project = 17/11/23


Frédéric Gens - fgens@uliege.be
Secretary : 04.366.16.16

Association of one or more MOOCs