Civil Engineering Laboratories

 This facility offers a series of practical experiments designed to investigate the properties of a variety of materials used in civil engineering

Students using a universal test machine

Main materials laboratory - HB132B

The laboratory work is broadly based to develop an understanding of the properties of materials, in terms of their structure, use in the construction industry and methods of performance testing.


At level one laboratory study is concerned with introducing the student to the fundamental properties of such materials. The student is asked to investigate the physical and chemical properties in relation to appreciating why different materials are specified for particular elements within the structure, and why buildings stand up. An outline of the principal areas covered being:


  • The performance of cement based materials, i.e. concretes & cement pastes, in terms of the rate of compressive strength gain as a function of the free-water content, inclusion of chemical additives and usage of cement & aggregate replacements.
  • The performance of timber beams with respect to applied loadings, including consideration of timber type and internal structure.
  • The performance of metals with respect to their carbon content, i.e. elasticity, resistance to corrosion, tensile strength, thermal conductivity.
  • The performance of masonry elements with respect to the absorption of moisture.


Some final year research projects stem from level one work.

Students on some programmes of study may go on to build upon the knowledge accumulated at level one at levels two and three.

Concrete mixing workshop - HB134

This workshop is adjacent to the main material laboratory and allows students to mix and cast concrete for use in the experiments in the laboratory. It also allows students to experience on site quality control tests.

Soil Mechanics Laboratory - HB132A

A full range of typical soils mechanics tests are available in this facility. The full range of tests is given in the equipment list below.

Structural Testing Laboratory - HB127

This area offers multiple test machines able to test a wide variety of materials in tension, compression or flexural strength modes. It also includes a fatigue test machine able to simulate the effects of vibration on material strength.

Students using a large dual test area machine in flexural mode

Students uing a table table test machine in tensile mode

Key equipment available

Structural Testing

  • Universal test frame - Instron 5985 250 kN dual test area
  • Universal test frame - Instron 3369 50kN
  • Universal test frame - Instron 8502 100kN fatigue machine
  • Concrete compression tester - ELE Autoset 3000
  • Universal test frame - Testometric FS500CT 500kN
  • Concrete/timber flexural test frame - Testometric FS100SCCT 100kN
  • Materials tensile testing machine - Hounsfield H20K-W

Concrete Mixing

  • Concrete core cutoff and trimmer
  • Cross beater mill
  • Concrete core drill - Diamant Boart DM100W
  • Concrete mixers
  • Vibrating table
  • Concrete vibrating poker
  • Concrete curing tanks


  • Various ovens/furnaces
  • Environmental chamber - Weiss WKL100
  • Various digital balances/larger scales
  • Reinforcement bar covermeters
  • Vee Bee consistometer
  • Air entrainment meter
  • Aggregate moisture meter - Speedy Moisture Meter
  • Digital Thermometers – Testo 925
  • Resonant frequency tester
  • Schmidt rebound hammer - various types
  • Ultrasonic pulse velocity meter - CNS Farnell Pundit
  • Concrete strength pull test - Germann Instruments Lok-Test
  • Plaster shrinkage tests Damp meters/full survey kit - Protimeter
  • Microscopes
  • Video borescope

Contact Staff

James Hewell | Senior Technician
+44 (0)1772 89 3213 | Harris Building HB129

Andy Wood | Technician
+44 (0)1772 89 ---- | Harris Building HB126/HB129

LIS Customer Support Team
+44 (0)1772 89 5355

Key equipment continued

Soil Mechanics

  • Quick undrained triaxial frames
  • CBR test frame
  • Large automatic shear box
  • Digital shearboxes
  • Oedometers
  • Ring shear apparatus
  • Manual shear box apparatus
  • Limit test apparatus
  • Density and specific gravity apparatus
  • Sedimentation apparatus
  • Permeability apparatus
  • Cassegrande tests
  • Soils sieve shakers and sieve sets
  • Cone penetrometer tests
  • Specific gravity apparatus
  • Sampling equipment
  • Field equipment
  • Data logging equipment


Harris Building, HB127

Opening Times, Guides and Charges

Official workshop hours are: 9:30 to 12.30 and 13.30 to 16:30 (in practice technicians are often available outside of these times)

Universal test machine sample sizes

Industry Support  (IGA work)