Kenneth H. Roscoe

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Kenneth H. Roscoe
Born December 1914
Died 1970
Institutions University of Cambridge
Alma mater University of Cambridge
Academic advisors John Baker, Baron Baker
Doctoral students Peter Wroth
Andrew N. Schofield
John Burland
A. Thurairajah

Kenneth Harry "Ken" Roscoe (1914–1970) was a British civil engineer who made tremendous contributions to the plasticity theories of soil mechanics.[1]


He was Professor of Engineering at the University of Cambridge.[2][3][4] In an attempt to advance soil testing techniques, in the late forties and early fifties, he developed a simple shear apparatus in which his successive students attempted to study the changes in conditions in the shear zone both in sand and in clay soils. In 1958 a study of the yielding of soil based on some Cambridge data of the simple shear apparatus tests, and on much more extensive data of triaxial tests at Imperial College London from research led by Professor Sir Alec Skempton at the Imperial Geotechnical Laboratories, led to the publication of the critical state concept (Roscoe, Schofield & Wroth 1958).

Roscoe obtained his undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering[5] and his experiences trying to create tunnels to escape when held as a prisoner of war by the Nazis during World War II introduced him to soil mechanics.[5] His pioneering work lead to the formation of the theory of Critical state soil mechanics and what is known today as the Cam clay constitutive model for the behaviour of soils.

Academic Contribution[edit]

He was the research supervisor of John Burland, A. Thurairajah, Andrew N. Schofield and Peter Wroth. In 1970, he delivered the 10th Rankine Lecture titled "The influence of strains in soil mechanics".[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Kenneth Harry Roscoe, 1914–1970". Géotechnique. 20 (2): 123–126. 1970. doi:10.1680/geot.1970.20.2.123. 
  2. ^ Kenneth H. Roscoe - Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
  3. ^ Kenneth H. Roscoe - National Portrait Gallery
  4. ^ Kenneth Harry Roscoe at the Mathematics Genealogy Project
  5. ^ a b Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, 1961-1970, entry on Roscoe, Kenneth Harry, pp 894-896
  6. ^ Roscoe, K. H. (1970) The influence of strains in soil mechanics. Geotechnique 20(2) 129-170.