One-dimensional consolidation analysis of layered soils conventionally entails solving a system of differential equations subject to the flow conditions at the bounding upper and lower surfaces, as well as the continuity conditions at the interface of every pair of contiguous layers. Formidable computational efforts are required to solve the ensuing transcendental equations expressing the matching conditions at the interfaces, using this method. In this paper, the jump discontinuities in the flow parameters upon crossing from one layer to the other have been systematically built into a single partial differential equation governing the space–time variation of the excess pore pressure in the entire composite medium, by the use of the Heaviside distribution. Despite the presence of the discontinuities in the coefficients of the differential equation, a closed-form solution in the sense of an infinite generalized Fourier series is obtained, in addition to which is the development of a Green's function for the differential problem. The eigenfunctions of the composite medium are the coordinate functions of the series, obtained computationally through the application of the extended equations of Galerkin. The analysis has been illustrated by solving the consolidation problem of a four-layer composite, and the results obtained agree very well with the results obtained by previous researchers. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.