December 2, 2023
Types of Surveying In Engineering

Types of Surveying In Engineering

Surveying is an essential aspect of civil engineering that involves measuring and mapping the land. It plays a crucial role in the planning, design, and construction of various infrastructure projects. There are several types of surveying techniques used in civil engineering, each serving a specific purpose. In this blog post, we will discuss types of surveying and its importance.

What is Surveying?

Surveying can be defined as the science and art of determining the relative positions of points on or near the Earth’s surface. It involves the use of various instruments and techniques to measure distances, angles, and elevations.

Types of Surveying

There are different types of surveying techniques used in civil engineering:-

1. Plane Surveying

Plane surveying is the most basic and commonly used method of surveying. It involves measuring small areas of land where the curvature of the earth can be neglected. This type of surveying is suitable for small-scale projects such as building construction, road alignment, and topographic mapping.

2. Geodetic Surveying

Geodetic surveying is a more advanced form of surveying that takes into account the curvature of the earth. It is used for large-scale projects that cover a significant area, such as mapping the boundaries of countries or continents. Geodetic surveying requires precise measurements and calculations to account for the earth’s shape and curvature.

3. Chain Surveying

Chain surveying is a traditional method of surveying that uses a chain or tape to measure distances and angles. It is commonly used for small-scale projects and is suitable for rough and hilly terrains where other surveying methods may not be feasible. Chain surveying is relatively simple and cost-effective, making it a popular choice for land surveyors.

4. Compass Surveying

Compass surveying is another traditional method that uses a compass to measure angles and bearings. It is commonly used for small-scale projects and is suitable for areas where the terrain is relatively flat and open. Compass surveying is less accurate compared to other surveying methods but can still provide useful information for basic surveying needs.

5. Plane Table Surveying

Plane Table Surveying is a simple and traditional method of surveying that involves the use of a plane table and alidade. The surveyor sets up the plane table at a specific point and then visually observes and records the measurements of various points on the ground using the alidade. This technique is useful for small-scale surveys and is particularly effective in areas with limited access or rough terrain.

6. Theodolite Surveying

Theodolite Surveying is a precise and accurate method of surveying that uses a theodolite instrument to measure horizontal and vertical angles. The surveyor sets up the theodolite at a known point and then measures the angles between various points of interest. This technique is commonly used in construction projects, boundary surveys, and topographic mapping.

7. Tacheometric Surveying

Tacheometric Surveying, also known as rapid surveying or stadia surveying, is a fast and efficient method of surveying that uses a tacheometer instrument to measure both horizontal and vertical distances. The surveyor sets up the tacheometer at a known point and then measures the distances to various points using stadia hairs or electronic distance measurement (EDM) technology. This technique is commonly used in highway and railway alignment surveys, as well as in the construction of buildings and dams.

8. Photographic Surveying

Photographic Surveying is a modern method of surveying that uses aerial photographs or satellite images to create accurate maps and models of the Earth’s surface. The surveyor analyzes the photographs or images and uses photogrammetry techniques to extract measurements and features. This technique is widely used in large-scale mapping projects, urban planning, and environmental monitoring.

9. Aerial Surveying

Aerial Surveying is a specialized method of surveying that involves the use of aircraft or drones to capture high-resolution images or LiDAR data of the Earth’s surface. The surveyor uses remote sensing techniques to analyze the captured data and create detailed maps, 3D models, or digital elevation models (DEMs). This technique is particularly useful for large-scale surveys, such as land mapping, forest inventory, and disaster management.

Importance of Surveying

Surveying is vital in civil engineering for several reasons:

1. Planning and Design

Surveying helps in the planning and design of construction projects. It provides accurate data on the existing site conditions, including topography, boundaries, and utilities, which is crucial for designing structures that are safe and functional.

2. Construction

During the construction phase, surveying is used to stake out the positions of structures, roads, and utilities. It ensures that the construction is carried out according to the design plans and specifications.

3. Monitoring and Control

Surveying is also essential for monitoring the progress of construction projects and ensuring that they are built as per the approved plans. It helps in controlling the alignment, elevation, and dimensions of the structures.

4. Property and Land Management

Surveying plays a crucial role in property and land management. It helps in determining property boundaries, resolving property disputes, and assessing the value of land.


In conclusion, surveying is a vital component of civil engineering, and various techniques are used to gather accurate measurements and data for infrastructure projects. Plane Surveying, Geodetic Surveying, Chain Surveying, Compass Surveying, Plane Table Surveying, Theodolite Surveying, Tacheometric Surveying, Photographic Surveying, and Aerial Surveying are just a few examples of the different types of surveying methods available. Each technique has its own advantages and applications, and the choice of method depends on the specific requirements of the project. By employing the right surveying technique, civil engineers can ensure the successful planning, design, and construction of various infrastructure projects.

Also Read

Principles of Building Planning

FAQs on Engineering Surveying

Surveying is an integral part of engineering that involves measuring and mapping the Earth’s surface. It plays a crucial role in various construction and infrastructure projects. As a discipline, surveying can be quite complex, and people often have several questions about it. In this blog post, we will address some frequently asked questions about surveying in engineering.

What is Engineering Surveying?

Engineering surveying is a branch of surveying that involves the measurement and mapping of the physical features of the Earth’s surface and the positioning of objects and structures. It is an essential component of various engineering projects, including construction, infrastructure development, and land development.

Why is Engineering Surveying important?

Engineering surveying plays a crucial role in ensuring the accurate and precise positioning of objects and structures in engineering projects. It helps in determining the boundaries and topography of the land, assessing the suitability of the site for construction, and monitoring the progress and quality of the project.

What equipment is used in Engineering Surveying?

Engineering surveyors use various equipment and tools to carry out their work, including:

  • Total Stations: Electronic devices used for measuring angles and distances.
  • Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS): Receivers that receive signals from satellites to determine precise positions.
  • Laser Scanners: Devices that capture detailed 3D information of objects and structures.

What skills are required for Engineering Surveying?

Engineering surveyors need to possess a combination of technical, mathematical, and problem-solving skills. They should have a strong understanding of surveying principles, be proficient in using surveying equipment and software, and have excellent attention to detail and accuracy.

Is Engineering Surveying a promising career?

Yes, engineering surveying offers promising career prospects. With the increasing demand for infrastructure development and construction projects, there is a growing need for skilled engineering surveyors. The field offers opportunities for career growth, competitive salaries, and the chance to work on diverse and challenging projects.

Surveying is a vital component of engineering, providing crucial information for designing and constructing various projects. This blog post aimed to answer some commonly asked questions about surveying in engineering. If you have any more queries or would like to learn more about surveying, feel free to reach out to us.

Er. Thalib Mushtaq Tantary

My name is Er. Thalib Mushtaq Tantry and I am the founder of this very site. I am a MBA and civil engineering student and I love to help people get out of trouble they counter in their lives.

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