Sustainable Systems Engineering (CIVL3010)


Engineering graduates apply their technical skills in a wide variety of legal, institutional, and environmental settings, acting as agents and managers of technology-driven social change. Engineering decision-making and problem-solving are made more complex by technical, economic, environmental, social and ethical constraints. In particular, environmental sustainability has given rise to a new framework of engineering analysis that is now an essential part of the work of engineers. The goals of this unit are to introduce students to major problems of environmental deterioration, especially climate change and energy, and to concepts of sustainability within a system dynamics framework, and engage students in active reflection on the role of civil engineers in addressing these issues; to develop the students skills at quantifying the impact of engineering decisions within the broader economic, environmental and socio-cultural contexts; to develop communication skills through participation in group discussions, oral presentations, and written report writing. Lectures, group discussions, case problems and projects are all used in teaching and learning in this unit of study.
At the end of the unit, students will be able to:
a. identify and analyse important ecological, social and ethical issues deriving from technology-driven change, including new paradigms of environmental sustainability within system dynamics framework, especially in relation to long-range air pollution and energy.
b. write environmental impact statements for engineering projects and identify and analyse the impacts of infrastructure projects on the social and natural environments.
c. use design and analysis tools such as the Life-Cycle Analysis and the BASIX system to develop better engineering design solutions.
d. understand the influence of organizational, ethical and legal factors on engineering practice.
The secondary objectives of the UoS are:
a. to improve students team-work ability.
b. to improve students communication skills, through verbal and written media.
c. to improve students skills in research and use of library resources.
The syllabus comprises role(s) of civil engineers, historical development of profession, air pollution and climate change, energy; a system dynamics approach to sustainability; definitions and practice of sustainability; BASIX design system; environmental impact statements; life-cycle analyses; ethics in engineering.

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Further unit of study information


Lecture 2 hrs/week; Laboratory 3 hrs/week; Project Work - own time 2 hrs/week.


Through semester assessment (100%)

Faculty/department permission required?


Unit of study rules

Prerequisites and assumed knowledge


Study this unit outside a degree

Non-award/non-degree study

If you wish to undertake one or more units of study (subjects) for your own interest but not towards a degree, you may enrol in single units as a non-award student.

Cross-institutional study

If you are from another Australian tertiary institution you may be permitted to underake cross-institutional study in one or more units of study at the University of Sydney.