AGRIBUS 7064 - Water Security and Governance

North Terrace Campus - Trimester 2 - 2017

This course examines the governance, future security and sustainable management of water resources with a particular focus on agricultural production and increasing demands for water by other sectors (e.g. urban growth, environmental flows). Within the course, students will be exposed to topics such as: the historical, cultural and socio-political contexts of water governance; the range of legal, policy and administrative arrangements for developing, allocating, managing and protecting water resources; raising awareness of the cross-jurisdictional, multi-level and multi-institutional processes involved; the intersecting and interrelated interests around water resource use and frameworks for stakeholder consultation; theoretical and practical frameworks for addressing increasingly complex water security issues such as allocation and trade; and recent remediation programs to counter land and water degradation.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code AGRIBUS 7064
    Course Water Security and Governance
    Coordinating Unit Centre for Global Food and Resources
    Term Trimester 2
    Level Postgraduate Coursework
    Location/s North Terrace Campus
    Units 3
    Available for Study Abroad and Exchange Y
    Course Description This course examines the governance, future security and sustainable management of water resources with a particular focus on agricultural production and increasing demands for water by other sectors (e.g. urban growth, environmental flows). Within the course, students will be exposed to topics such as: the historical, cultural and socio-political contexts of water governance; the range of legal, policy and administrative arrangements for developing, allocating, managing and protecting water resources; raising awareness of the cross-jurisdictional, multi-level and multi-institutional processes involved; the intersecting and interrelated interests around water resource use and frameworks for stakeholder consultation; theoretical and practical frameworks for addressing increasingly complex water security issues such as allocation and trade; and recent remediation programs to counter land and water degradation.
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Dr Adam Loch

    Role: Course coordinator and Lecturer
    Location: 6.18, Nexus 10 (10 Pulteney Street)

    Other Lecturer(s)
    Name:      Assoc. Prof Sarah Wheeler
    Role: Lecturer
    Location: 6.17, Nexus 10 (10 Pulteney Street)
    Name:      Dr Alec Zuo
    Role: Lecturer
    Location: 6.20, Nexus 10 (10 Pulteney Street)
    Course Timetable

    The full timetable of all activities for this course can be accessed from Course Planner.

  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes
    On the successful completion of this course, students will be able to:
    1. Describe the historical context of water governance in Australia and other contexts and identify the critical points of institutional change.
    2. List important policy or program options for managing water scarcity and compare their effectiveness in different situations.
    3. Explain the multi-jurisdictional governance of water and analyse reasons as to why this approach is adopted.
    4. Critically analyse the drivers of water scarcity and demonstrate the usefulness of economic instruments such as trade, pricing and allocation.
    5. Apply assessment tools such as cost-benefit analysis, frameworks for interrelated stakeholder consultation and water resource planning to case studies.
    6. Evaluate the possible future outcomes of water governance decisions taken today, and debate the merits/costs of these decisions. 

    University Graduate Attributes

    This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attribute(s) specified below:

    University Graduate Attribute Course Learning Outcome(s)
    Deep discipline knowledge
    • informed and infused by cutting edge research, scaffolded throughout their program of studies
    • acquired from personal interaction with research active educators, from year 1
    • accredited or validated against national or international standards (for relevant programs)
    Critical thinking and problem solving
    • steeped in research methods and rigor
    • based on empirical evidence and the scientific approach to knowledge development
    • demonstrated through appropriate and relevant assessment
    Teamwork and communication skills
    • developed from, with, and via the SGDE
    • honed through assessment and practice throughout the program of studies
    • encouraged and valued in all aspects of learning
    Career and leadership readiness
    • technology savvy
    • professional and, where relevant, fully accredited
    • forward thinking and well informed
    • tested and validated by work based experiences
    Intercultural and ethical competency
    • adept at operating in other cultures
    • comfortable with different nationalities and social contexts
    • Able to determine and contribute to desirable social outcomes
    • demonstrated by study abroad or with an understanding of indigenous knowledges
    Self-awareness and emotional intelligence
    • a capacity for self-reflection and a willingness to engage in self-appraisal
    • open to objective and constructive feedback from supervisors and peers
    • able to negotiate difficult social situations, defuse conflict and engage positively in purposeful debate
  • Learning Resources
    Required Resources
    There are no specified learning resources required for the course. A lecture outline and recommended reading in preparation for each seminar will be made available, together with a list of additional readings for those wishing to explore issues further. However, there are a number of additional recommended resources that students might like to examine either in preparation for the course discussions or as part of their wider examination of water governance in Australia:
    Recommended Resources
    The following are excellent (but not required) text examples. The library does not hold a copy of these texts in its collection, but an electronic version of the individual contributions is freely available at :

    Dinar, A. and Schwabe, K. (2015), A Handbook of Water Economics, Edward Elgar Press, Northampton MA.

    Griffin, R. (2016), Water Resource Economics, 2nd Edition, MIT Press, Cambridge MA.

    Legislation and planning:
    • The Water Act (C’wth: 2007)
    • The National Water Initiative
    • The Murray–Darling Basin Agreement
    • Commonwealth Environmental Watering Plans

    • The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (DAWR)
    • The Murray–Darling Basin Authority (MDBA)
    • The Commonwealth Environmental Water Office (CEWO)
    • The National Water Commission (archived)
    • The Victorian Environmental Water Holder (VEWH)
    • New South Wales Office of Water (DPI-Water)
    • Council of Australian Governments (CoAG)

    Academic journals frequently referred to:
    • Australian Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics (AJARE)
    • Ecological Economics (Ecol Econ)
    • The American Journal of Agricultural Economics (AJAE)
    • Water Resources Research (WRR)
    • Water Resources Management (WRM)
    • Agricultural Water Management (AWM)


    All case studies will be made available on the course website or via links to relevant external sites. All cases will be freely available.
  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes

    The course will be delivered intensively over five weeks: Weeks 1, 3 and 5 involve two 6-hour lecture/workshop contact session (Tuesdays and Thursdays); Weeks 2 and 4 are for preparation/reading in between each contact week. Weekly sessions will be delivered by one of the lecturers, but all lecturers will participate in the course delivery at critical stages (e.g. the debate). The course coordinator will provide a central point of contact for students.
    The delivery will be a blended approach using 1.5 hour lectures, course discussion of readings to provide for flipped learning outcomes, and class activities (e.g. game-playing, case studies, debate etc.) for learning development beyond the lecture mode. Students will be required to demonstrate their capacity to locate information, absorb its detail, consider the implications of that information in the context of interest and demonstrate that in the provision of solutions or suggestions for policy/program arrangements. Useful links and tips will be provided in the course materials, and interaction will assist all students to learn from one another.
    A debate will be the culmination of the learning mode toward the end of the course where students will be asked to separate into two teams of different stakeholders and debate the merits/costs of two current programs for dealing with water scarcity in Australia: buyback and efficiency improvements. Participation in these activities will form a small part of the course assessment.

    The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.

    There is no expected pre-requisite knowledge or course-work for this course. However, students are anticipated to have a basic background knowledge through their undergraduate programs that will enable them to contextualize the importance of better water governance across their own area of interest. It is also expected that the student group will thus have a diverse range of professional experience, including some students with no postgraduate work experience. Therefore, consistent with the nature of real-world water governance requirements, students will be encouraged to develop a multi-disciplinary perspective and approach to tackling problems posed in the course.

    As such:

    Core information will be provided to students ahead of course commencement and basic principles will be outlined and developed in the lecture component of the course. Seminar sessions will be used to more deeply develop and apply these core concepts through the use of flipped discussion, problem solving activities and interactive student engagement. Case studies will form a basis for much of this activity, where real-world issues will be discussed and solutions developed by the group on the basis of their learning to date.

    The structure of these cases will be such that examples will range from relatively simple through to complex governance arrangement requirements as the course progresses, highlighting the development of skills and the scale and range of water governance requirements by the end of the course.

    Students will be expected to read the assigned papers or resources ahead of the weekly sessions, and encouraged to read any additional resources supplied for further background information of knowledge. They will then be expected to use that knowledge to actively participate in the seminar discussions and activities as part of their total assessment.

    Learning Activities Summary
    The structure and seminar topics for each session is set out below. At the commencement of the course a more detailed structure would be made available to the student group. Note that as an intensive course it is expected that the course delivery will be broken into two six-hour sessions per week (e.g. Tuesdays and Thursdays) over a total of three weeks to accumulate the required 36 contact hours. Format for those sessions would be two 1.5-hour lectures followed with two 1.5-hour practical seminars for flipped discussion, case study analysis, debate and small-group work. Additional work outside of contact hours for course reading and planning by students would also be taken into account.

    Session Lecture Topic Key seminar activitites
    1 Introduction to global water security issues Get to know your classmates and interests
    2 Uncertainty as a growing influence in water governance complexity
    3 Supply and demand solutions to water resource governance Case study 1: Water wars!
    4 Sectoral use of water resources
    5 Values of water resources I
    6 Values of water resources II Case study 2: Urban water pricing
    7 Property rights, allocation mechanisms and rights structures
    8 Economic instruments as a tool for water governance
    9 The Murray-Darling Basin water reform case: Australia leading the world Case study 3: Basin planning as a governance approach
    10 Basin Planning and reform options: buyback versus efficiency
    11 The Great Water Debate Debate: Buyback versus efficiency as water governance solutions
    12 Review, key messages and course summary
    All three lecturers would be involved in the course delivery through both intensive lecture sessions and assistance during seminar discussions, group work, judging the debate etc. However, the specific lecture topic load would be split as follows:
    • First Session: Assoc. Prof Sarah Wheeler (topics 1-4)
    • Second Session: Dr Alec Zuo (topics 5-8)
    • Third Session: Dr Adam Loch (topics 9-12)
  • Assessment

    The University's policy on Assessment for Coursework Programs is based on the following four principles:

    1. Assessment must encourage and reinforce learning.
    2. Assessment must enable robust and fair judgements about student performance.
    3. Assessment practices must be fair and equitable to students and give them the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned.
    4. Assessment must maintain academic standards.

    Assessment Summary

    Task Group/Individual Session Deadline Weighting Learning Outcome
    Seminar attendance and Participation Individual NA 10% 1,2,3,4,5,6
    Case study analysis Individual Sessions 3, 6, and 9 30% 1,4,5,6
    Water debate Group Session 11 20% 4,5,6
    Short-answer essays (3 of 6 choices) Individual TBA 40% 1,2,3,4,5,6
    Total 100%
    Assessment Detail
    There will be four (4) assessment requirements in the course, as follows:

    1. Attendance and participation in seminars (10%):

    Students must attend 10 of the 12 seminars and actively participate in discussion. They should be familiar with the materials, and show that they have read the assigned minimum reading for each seminar session such that they can ask informed questions and contribute in an informed way. This is key assessment of flipped learning outcomes from the course; that is, we will use this to gauge the students’ development of course knowledge, critical thinking and application of knowledge to issues. Early discussion will be guided by the lecturers, but this development will be reinforced by the case-study assessments.

    2. Case studies (30%):

    Students will be provided the reading material for three case studies at the start of the course. These will be short readings with dense information that will then lead to a series of questions that will be discussed and debated in the relevant seminars (Sessions 3, 6 and 9). In preparation for these discussions students will be required to prepare a set of notes (e.g. expanded dot points) to help them structure their participation. These notes together with their contribution to the seminar discussion and outcomes will be used as the basis for the assessment mark.

    3. The Great Water Debate (20%):

    Students will be assigned to two groups (by Session 4 at the latest) and split across two topics that will then be debated. For example, one group may be assigned the argument for buyback as a water saving/recovery option, while the other group may be assigned efficiency improvements. Each group will be expected to elect main speakers for their arguments, but will each contribute to the research role that provides the basis for their arguments. Once each side has spoken the debate will ‘go public’ allowing everyone to expand the debate around the whole room (similar to a parliamentary or stakeholder consultation process). The lecturers will be an initial point of discussion (if necessary to prompt the debate) and final feedback.

    4. Short-answer essay responses (40%):

    As a final exam assessment, students will be provided with six questions to which they will be required to submit three short-answer essay responses. For example, students may be asked to list the critical requirements for effective water governance and site an example where they are used in the world context. They may then be required to also critically appraise reasons as to why the system in question succeeded/failed over time.

    The proposed assessment is summarised in the table below, together with due dates, learning outcomes etc.
    Assignments must be submitted in Softcopy through Turnitin on MyUni

    All assignments must be presented professionally with clear headings, appropriate referencing and using one and a half spacing.

    Extensions will only be granted if requests are received in writing to the course coordinator at least 24 hours before the final due date unless they are requested on medical or compassionate grounds and are supported by appropriate documents.

    Please contact the course coordinator, preferably by email, at any time to make an appointment for assistance or guidance in relation to course work, assignments or any concerns that may arise. Assignments will normally be returned two weeks after they have been submitted
    Course Grading

    Grades for your performance in this course will be awarded in accordance with the following scheme:

    M10 (Coursework Mark Scheme)
    Grade Mark Description
    FNS   Fail No Submission
    F 1-49 Fail
    P 50-64 Pass
    C 65-74 Credit
    D 75-84 Distinction
    HD 85-100 High Distinction
    CN   Continuing
    NFE   No Formal Examination
    RP   Result Pending

    Further details of the grades/results can be obtained from Examinations.

    Grade Descriptors are available which provide a general guide to the standard of work that is expected at each grade level. More information at Assessment for Coursework Programs.

    Final results for this course will be made available through Access Adelaide.

  • Student Feedback

    The University places a high priority on approaches to learning and teaching that enhance the student experience. Feedback is sought from students in a variety of ways including on-going engagement with staff, the use of online discussion boards and the use of Student Experience of Learning and Teaching (SELT) surveys as well as GOS surveys and Program reviews.

    SELTs are an important source of information to inform individual teaching practice, decisions about teaching duties, and course and program curriculum design. They enable the University to assess how effectively its learning environments and teaching practices facilitate student engagement and learning outcomes. Under the current SELT Policy ( course SELTs are mandated and must be conducted at the conclusion of each term/semester/trimester for every course offering. Feedback on issues raised through course SELT surveys is made available to enrolled students through various resources (e.g. MyUni). In addition aggregated course SELT data is available.

  • Student Support
  • Policies & Guidelines
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