ENV ENG 7007 - Integrated Environment Planning and Impact Assessment

North Terrace Campus - Semester 2 - 2024

The growing local and global reach of the impacts of human development on the natural environment necessitate the use of an integrated systems approach towards understanding, modelling and decision making in human-environmental systems. The interconnectedness of these systems means that traditional modelling paradigms need to be expanded to account for the array of key socio-techno-ecological processes. For environmental engineers working at the interface between human development and the natural environment, spatial, dynamic and integrated assessment modelling techniques, coupled with scenario-based strategies to deal with deep uncertainty, are becoming increasingly important approaches. This course will focus on a systems approach to conceptualising human-environmental systems? problems, and adopt spatio-dynamic modelling and deep uncertainty framing tools and for the purpose of planning and decision-making

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code ENV ENG 7007
    Course Integrated Environment Planning and Impact Assessment
    Coordinating Unit Environmental Engineering
    Term Semester 2
    Level Postgraduate Coursework
    Location/s North Terrace Campus
    Units 3
    Contact Up to 6 hours per week
    Available for Study Abroad and Exchange Y
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Dr Aaron Zecchin

    Course Timetable

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

  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes
    The learning objectives for this course are to:
    1) Recognise and explain the role of systems thinking and systems approaches in tackling wicked problems assocaited with the management of environmental systems.
    2) Identify, apply and compare qualitative systems mapping techniques towards building an understanding of complex human-environmental systems (e.g. techniques include influence diagrams, causal loop diagrams, stock and flow diagrams).
    3) Develop quantitative System Dynamics models for the simulation of environmental and renewable energy systems.
    4) Design structured computational studies, using an integrated approach, to investigate and analyse environmental and renewable energy systems, subject to deep uncertainty.
    5) Prepare engineering reports based on results from computational studies of environmental and renewable energy systems.

    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):  

    A A C C A B C C C A C B B B B
    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 - 4

    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.

    1 - 3

    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.

    4, 5

    Attribute 4: Professionalism and leadership readiness

    Graduates engage in professional behaviour and have the potential to be entrepreneurial and take leadership roles in their chosen occupations or careers and communities.

    4, 5

    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.

    3 - 5

    Attribute 8: Self-awareness and emotional intelligence

    Graduates are self-aware and reflective; they are flexible and resilient and have the capacity to accept and give constructive feedback; they act with integrity and take responsibility for their actions.

  • Learning Resources
    Required Resources
    The course uses a range of textbooks and papers, where key excerpts will be made available on MyUni if the resources are not freely available. Several assignments will require further research, and students should make use of the University of Adelaide library and resources (e.g. databases) therein.
    Recommended Resources
    Recommended resource lists will be made avaliable on MyUni, but a useful text is: A. Ford, (2010). Modelling the Environment, Second Edition, Island Press.
    Online Learning
    This course will make extensive use of digital technology. All course material will be made available through the MyUni portal, including recorded lectures, assignments, and other relevant material. Moveover, this system will be used for all important course announcements.
  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes
    The course will be delivered through mulitple modes and activites. All information and resources will be available through MyUni, but in summary there will be:
    - Two 1 hr lectures a week;
    - A 2 hr workshop each week for the first four weeks;
    - A 2 hr CATS session each week for Weeks 4 - 12.

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

    In line with University guidelines, it is expected that the average student should spend 12 hours per week on this course. In addition to the lectures (up to 2 hours per week) and the face-to-face sessions (up to 2 hours per week), students are expected to spend the additional remaining time allocation reviewing lecture material, reading course readings, working on assignments, and working on the modelling exercises and projects.
    Learning Activities Summary
    This course will involve up to two hours of online lectures each week, combined with either a two hour workshop or computing practical session each week.

    The topics to be covered are:
    - Introduction and Wicked Problems;
    - Systems Theory (history of Systems Thinking, system fundamentals, System Science principles);
    - Systems Mapping (structured qualitative descriptions of systems, with a focus on Influence Diagrams);
    - System Dynamics (Causal Loop Diagrams, qualitative and quantitative Stock and Flow diagrams and models, system simulation);
    - Model Analysis (uncertainty and scenario analysis for System Dynamics models);
    - Integrated Assessment Modelling (exposure to state-of-the-art integrated modelling approaches);
    - Major project.

    Note that the focus of the course is on environmental and renewable energy systems, and these will be used as examples thoughout the topics.
  • 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
    This course will involve written response assignments, model development and simulation assignments, an essay, and a major group project.
    Assessment Task Individual / Group Due Weighting Learning Outcome
    Written Assignments
    (three in total)

    Weeks 2 - 5

    30% 1, 2
    Simulation-based Assignments
    (two in total)
    Individual Weeks 6 - 10 25% 2 - 4
    Essay Individual Week 12 15% 1, 2
    Major Project Group
    (groups of 2)
    Week 13 30% 2 - 5
    Assessment Detail
    Details of all assessments will be made avaliable through MyUni, but a summary is provided below.

    Written Assignments:
    The three written assignments will cover: (1) Wicked problems; (2) Systems Theory; and (3) Systems Mapping. The assignments will involve short answer questions, and the application of the frameworks and methods to analyse a real-world Australian environmental system. There will be an associated workshop session with each assignment.

    Simulation-based Assignments:
    Students will complete two simulation-based assignments using the System Dynamics modelling framework of "Stock and Flow" models. The first assignment will explore fundamental dynamics concepts, which will be extended in the second assignment where students will undertake a simulation-based study. Both assignments will involve model development, simulation and analysis. The Ventara Systems software Vensim will be used for model development ans simulation.

    Students will write an essay from one of the following topics: Holism, Systems Thinking and Complexity; Integrated Assessment Modelling; or Participatory Modelling. The 2,500 word essay will involve research into the academic literature on state-of-the-art approaches in these topics.

    Major Project:
    The major project will be undertaken in groups of two. The project will focus on an integrated analysis of either an enviornmental management and planning problem or renewable energy development and planning problem. The project will involve a simulation-based study and the production of a formal engineering report.
    All submissions will be electronic and through MyUni.
    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.

The University of Adelaide is committed to regular reviews of the courses and programs it offers to students. The University of Adelaide therefore reserves the right to discontinue or vary programs and courses without notice. Please read the important information contained in the disclaimer.