NATM Master of Engineering programme 15 Aug 2019

NATM Course News Release

The New Austrian Tunnelling Method, NATM, has become a gold standard approach to flexible and versatile underground excavation worldwide. Over the past decades it has been used to build subways, road and rail infrastructure and other underground space facilities in all countries of the world. As a result, there is a strong and growing demand for engineers with qualifications in this field.

Study in the art of NATM excavation
Study in the art of NATM excavation

Leading the education and accreditation of engineers in the design and construction of NATM is the programme offered jointly by the Montanuniversität Leoben and TU Graz in Austria. The course offered by the Institute of Rock Mechanics and Tunnelling at TU Graz and the Institute for Subsurface Engineering at Montanuniversität Leoben, progresses across six semesters and leads to a Master of Engineering, MEng, degree. The programme titled NATM Engineering: Construction, Rehabilitation and Operation of NATM and TBM Tunnels offers the opportunity to study geotechnical engineering and tunnel excavation, as well as both NATM and TBM excavation in detail. Completing the course equips the graduates to design, build and supervise the construction of tunnels, shafts and underground caverns, according to the NATM principles.

All parts of the programme are held in English as the language of instruction and its schedule flexibility attracts participants from across the world. To date 65 students from 32 different countries have graduated from the programme with an MEng.

Download a curriculum of the MEng course
Download a curriculum of the MEng course

Through their collaboration, the two universities have created the Austrian Tunnel Competence Center, ATC2, to facilitate innovation and knowledge transfer in tunnel construction. In addition to developments in the field of traditional NATM sequential excavation, it also addresses mechanised TBM excavations and specialised civil engineering procedures applied to underground construction. Special challenges and innovations associated with deep rock tunnelling, as well as excavation in shallower urban loose rock and softer ground conditions, are also studied.

The programme is open to engineers who have entry-level qualifications in construction or mining and designed for geotechnical and geological engineers who want to specialise in tunnel construction and NATM engineering in particular.

Testimonials about the value of the course

To register for the programme, applicants must have one of the following qualifications:

  • A Master’s or Diploma degree from an Austrian or international university;
  • An equivalent degree at a third-level educational institution in Austria or other country of the world;
  • A Bachelor’s degree in a relevant subject and in addition at least three years of professional experience in a relevant subject area.
  • Competence in English is also required.

The programme is divided into six modules with each module completed in a block of three consecutive weeks of full time study in Austria in six semesters scheduled across three years. This is principle attraction of the course in that its part time programme provides candidates the opportunity to maintain their employment positions while studying for their degree. The first three-week block of study each year is organized in September and the second in April and all six semesters must be competed consecutively.

The six semesters of three consecutive weeks of study are arranged in six modules covering specific aspects of the course with field trips arranged as part of each.

All aspects of NATM excavation are studied
All aspects of NATM excavation are studied

Module 1

Geology, geotechnics and tunneling methods

Module 2

Tunnel design and support methods, including NATM excavation, TBM excavation-Part 1, roadheader excavation, tunnel design and layout.

Module 3

Contract and site management, including NATM contracts and geotechnical monitoring and interpretation.

Module 4

Special methods in tunnelling and high-speed railway construction
NATM and TBM design guidelines, grouting, TBM-Part 2, health and safety and risk assessment.

Module 5

Equipment and maintenance, including life cycle assessment, maintenance and repair, tunnel ventilation, water-misting fire suppression systems.

Module 6

Master thesis: Preparation of a thesis for the Master’s programme is mandatory. A final exam and a graduation ceremony concludes the programme.

ZAB research facilities also available to course participants

A maximum of 30 students are accepted to each programme cycle and the course fee of €18,900 covers the studies, with travel, accommodation and meals extra.

The majority of the lectures are presented by Professor and Programme Director Thomas Marcher of TU Graz; Professor and Programme Director Rober Galler of Montanuniversität Leoben; and TU Graz Professors Wulf Schubert, Scott Kieffer and Tschunchnigg with lecturers from industry contributing on specialist topics.

Thomas Marcher
Thomas Marcher
Rober Galler
Rober Galler
Wulf Schubert
Wulf Schubert

In addition to university lectures and field trips, the course also has access to the facilities offered by the Zentrum Am Berg research centre for the construction and operation of underground facilities. operated by the Montanuniversität Leoben. The underground facility provides two parallel road tunnels and two parallel tunnels as well as a test tunnel, enabling research, development,and training under realistic 1:1 scale underground conditions.

“Tunnelling is currently undergoing extreme development, both in terms of machine technology and measurement technology and digitalisation,” said Programme Director Marcher of TU Graz. “I would like to give the participants an insight into the latest developments in tunnel design and construction.”

“The aim of the programme is to increase the skills of the participants in the fields of geotechnical engineering and tunnelling, with an emphasis on the NATM,” said Programme Director Galler of Montanuniversität Leoben. “The participants shall understand the application of cyclical and continuous excavation methods from an economic point of view as well as feasibility aspects, including also discussions on risks and opportunities.”

The concentration of tunnelling expertise in Austria inspired TU Graz and the Montanuniversität Leoben to offer this programme,” said Professor Schubert of TU Graz. “The success of the programme confirms the strong demand for engineers with specialist knowledge in this area.”

Download application forms for the NATM Master of Engineering programme and contact Programme Director Thomas Marcher and Programme Director Robert Galler for additional details.


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