ENV ENG 7406 - Climate Risk and Resilience

North Terrace Campus - Semester 2 - 2024

Climate risk is emerging as a key risk driver for systems as diverse as critical infrastructure (water, energy, transport, communications) and the built environment (buildings and cities), agri-food and fibre production systems, human health, finance and insurance, and the natural environment. These climate risks include physical risks (arising from the physical manifestation of climate change), transition risks (because of transition to a carbon-neutral economy) and systemic risks (because of interconnections between sectors and systems). This course will highlight the roles, responsibilities, and ethical considerations for engineers and other risk professionals in the identification, evaluation and management of climate risk, and provide students with a suite of theories, methods and tools to support risk assessments. A particular focus will be placed on evaluating risks in complex systems that are beyond the scope or control of individual actors (e.g. organisations). Finally, this course will provide overview of emerging concepts of system resilience, and students will learn about methods both to support adaptive planning and to enhance system resilience.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code ENV ENG 7406
    Course Climate Risk and Resilience
    Coordinating Unit Environmental Engineering
    Term Semester 2
    Level Postgraduate Coursework
    Location/s North Terrace Campus
    Units 3
    Contact 4 hours per week
    Available for Study Abroad and Exchange Y
    Assumed Knowledge MATHS 2107
    Assessment Online quizzes, Design Projects and Exam
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Professor Seth Westra

    Course Timetable

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

  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes
    On successful completion of this course, you will be able to:
    1. Articulate the theoretical and methodological foundations and ethical responsibilities of practitioners in the field of risk analysis.
    2. Demonstrate competency in a range of qualitative and quantitative methods for risk analysis, and describe their underlying assumptions and application contexts.
    3. Apply systems thinking principles to the field of risk analysis, including problem framing, boundary critique, method selection and approaches to systemic complexity.
    4. Generate context-relevant climate and energy futures (projections and scenarios), and describe assumptions of alternative ‘lines of evidence’.
    5. Conduct a causal analysis of a historical climate-related ‘failure’, and describe the utility and limitations of this analysis to inform risk assessments.
    6. Describe the difference between adaptive planning and enhancing system resilience, and identify methods managing both foreseen and unforeseen risks.

    The above course learning outcomes are aligned with the Engineers Australia Entry to Practice Competency Standard for the Professional Engineer. The course develops the following EA Elements of Competency to levels of introductory (A), intermediate (B), advanced (C):  

    B A C C B A A C A B A A A
    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)

    Attribute 1: Deep discipline knowledge and intellectual breadth

    Graduates have comprehensive knowledge and understanding of their subject area, the ability to engage with different traditions of thought, and the ability to apply their knowledge in practice including in multi-disciplinary or multi-professional contexts.

    1,2,3, 4, 5, 6

    Attribute 2: Creative and critical thinking, and problem solving

    Graduates are effective problems-solvers, able to apply critical, creative and evidence-based thinking to conceive innovative responses to future challenges.


    Attribute 3: Teamwork and communication skills

    Graduates convey ideas and information effectively to a range of audiences for a variety of purposes and contribute in a positive and collaborative manner to achieving common goals.


    Attribute 5: Intercultural and ethical competency

    Graduates are responsible and effective global citizens whose personal values and practices are consistent with their roles as responsible members of society.


    Attribute 7: Digital capabilities

    Graduates are well prepared for living, learning and working in a digital society.

  • Learning Resources
    Required Resources
    The majority of the course material will be made available on MyUni. Several assignments will require further research, and students should make use of the University of Adelaide library and resources (e.g. databases) therein.
    Online Learning
    The majority of the materials for this course will be made available in MyUni. This includes recorded lectures and course readings. Please note however that this is a campus based course and it is assumed that you will be attending the weekly workshops and tutorials. Some material may be conveyed during those sessions that will not be fully replicated on MyUni.
  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes
    This course utilises a mixture of online and face-to-face teaching modes to achieve the learning outcomes. The course adopts a  'flipped' approach to teaching where content is largely provided in an online format, and face-to-face workshops and tutorials are designed to reinforce and extend the learnings.

    The weekly rhythm of the course for 2023 will be as follows (noting that precise timing may be subject to change - please refer to MyUni for latest information):
    - The week will commence with a face-to-face workshop on Monday mornings. You will participate in a range of interactive activities (e.g. class discussions and problem solving), and you will be graded for participation at these sessions.
    - During the week you will be going through the online materials (online lectures and/or readings), and the purpose of these materials is either to prepare for forthcoming workshops and tutorials, or to reinforce learnings from previous workshops and tutorials.
    - You will have a weekly online quiz due immediately prior to Friday's tutorial. This will test your knowledge of the materials provided for that week. This is to help ensure you stay across the material each week, and provide rapid feedback on learnings.
    - On Friday afternoon you will have a tutorial in a computer laboratory, covering the quantitative aspects of the course.

    In addition to the above activities, you will be working on a number of assignments throughout the semester. In key weeks, time will be allocated in the weekly workshop and tutorial to help you with your assignments.

    Any course updates will be provided using the Announcements feature in MyUni. You are also encouraged to use MyUni to post questions on the discussion boards, and a member of the teaching staff will endeavour to respond to you promptly.

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

    Consistent with the University of Adelaide's Coursework Academic Programs Policy, the total workload for this course is 150 hours. We
    have apportioned this so the most weeks have approximately ten hours of allocated work (including attendance at workshops and tutorials, reviewing recorded lectures, completing course readings and completing assessable activities), leaving approximately 30 hours for self-directed study during the mid-semester break and in preparation for the final exam.
    Learning Activities Summary
    The following represents summary of key course topics. Please note that these topics may be subject to minor change.

    (1) What is risk? History, definitions and the International Standards Organisation perspective on risk
    (2) Introduction to the field of climate risk. Properties of climate-sensitive systems; links to concepts of complexity, uncertainty and ambiguity.
    (3) The ethics of climate risk. Primer on scilmate science and climate modelling. Introduction to probability theory.
    (4) Interpreting and communicating climate information. Introduction to statistical modelling.
    (5) Eliciting information from stakeholders and domain experts. Statistical modelling (continued).
    (6) Eliciting information from stakeholders and domain experts (continued). Statistical modelling (continued).
    (7) Strategic foresighting and the energy transition.
    (8) Development of scenarios to inform risk assessments. Introduction to Bayesian networks. 
    (9) Bayesian networks and overview of risk assessment methods.
    (10) Legal dimensiosn of risk. Causality and counterfactual reasoning.
    (11) From risk to resilience - what makes a system resilient? How to enhance resilience?
    (12) Revision.

  • 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
    The following table provides an indicative list of course assessments. Please note that these assessments and their weighting will be subject to minor adjustments, and enrolled students should refer to MyUni for the latest advice.

    Assessment Task Task Type Individual / Group Due Weighting Learning Outcome
    Online Quiz Formative Individual


    10% total
    (1% each)
    Workshop Participation Formative Individual Weekly 10% total
    (1% each)
    Minor Assignments Summative Individual Weeks 6, 7, 9, 12 30% each
    (5 or 10% each)
    2, 4, 5
    Major Assignment Summative Group Week 12 20% 2, 3
    Exam Summative Individual 30% All
    Assessment Detail
    A summary of course assessments is as follows:
    (1) Weekly quizzes. These will be made available on MyUni, and are each worth 1%. They will test your knowledge of the course materials presented in the preceding week.
    (2) Workshop participation. You will be given participation marks for the weekly workshops, based on the quality of your contributions. Further information on expectations for participation will be provided in Week 1.
    (3) Minor assignments. In total you will have four minor assignments. There will be two qualitative assignments, one focusing on soliciting information from stakeholders and domain experts and another on development of narrative scenarios to inform risk assessments. There will also be two quantitative assessments, one using Matlab (or equivalent language) and covering basic concepts from probability therory to allow you to quantitatively model risk, and the second using a Bayesian Network software package to complete a formal Quantitative Risk Assessment (QRA). These assignments will be worth between 5% and 10% each (depending on difficulty), and you will have at least two weeks to complete each assignment.
    (4) Major assignment. You will be responding to a tender request for completion of a climate risk assessment. You will help develop skills in proposal writing, and also develop your understanding of specific risk assessment methods to a particular context.
    (5) Exam. The exam will comprise a combination of multiple choice and short-answer questions.
    Indicative due dates for each assessment is provided in the Assessment Summary tab. The precise date and time will be provided on MyUni.

    The weekly quizzes and all assignments are to be submitted on MyUni, with detailed information provided on the submission portal. We will be using TurnItIn where relevant, and you will receive feedback on areas for further development.
    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 (http://www.adelaide.edu.au/policies/101/) 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
  • Fraud Awareness

    Students are reminded that in order to maintain the academic integrity of all programs and courses, the university has a zero-tolerance approach to students offering money or significant value goods or services to any staff member who is involved in their teaching or assessment. Students offering lecturers or tutors or professional staff anything more than a small token of appreciation is totally unacceptable, in any circumstances. Staff members are obliged to report all such incidents to their supervisor/manager, who will refer them for action under the university's student’s disciplinary procedures.

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