Humanitarian Engineering Major

"Humanitarian Engineering is the application of engineering to meet the needs of communities globally; while maintaining a focus on sustainability and appropriateness"

Humanitarian engineers are skilled engineers from all disciplines, that apply their skills and knowledge to challenges present in:
- Developing countries
- During all stages of disasters
- Indigenous communities
- Improving sustainability globally

The Humanitarian Engineering major is open to all undergraduate engineering streams. The major is delivered in the 3rd and 4th year of the degree, where students are taught how to apply their core engineering skills to complex humanitarian engineering problems. The major is taught through case studies, guest seminars and fieldwork experiences.
This major forms the foundation for a career in Humanitarian Engineering in public, private or not for profit sectors. This course develops core skills in multi-disciplinary team work and cross-cultural competence. All highly valuable graduate attributes to any employer.

You will explore international aid and development, and learn from experienced practitioners and industry partners about how to work in disadvantaged communities, fragile states, and communities in disaster recovery.
The Humanitarian Engineering major is open to all undergraduate engineering streams.


All engineering students who commenced their degree in 2016 or later are eligible for the major (see FAQ below).
The major is not available to students who commenced their degrees before 2016, however they may enroll in individual elective units if their degree rules permit it.

Requirements of the Major

Requirements of the major are to complete 24cp of prescribed subjects (listed below) and complete a final year thesis (12cp) in a related topic. If you enrolled prior to 2016 you can choose to take the below subjects as electives in your 3rd & 4th years.

Units of Study

Unit of Study

Credit Points


Complete 24 credit points of units of study as follows:





Humanitarian Engineering



 Semester 2 2017

Semester 1 2018


Engineering for Sustainbility





Semester 1 2018


Global Engineering Field Work



Note: Submission is based on an application process

Intensive July 2017

Intensive February 2018

Understanding Southeast Asia


Prerequisite 12 Junior credit points


Semester 1 2018

Assessment: Each unit will be assessed individually and be marked out of 100 and graded (Pass, Credit, Distinction, etc.). Assessment items may include essays, reports, presentations, blogs and exams.
The fieldwork unit may include a presentation to local stakeholders and peers. Team-based assessment items are included in some units.

While these units are open to all students from any Engineering discipline (provided their degree and major rules permit it). Please note : Participants for CIVL5330 will be selected on a competitive bases via an online application process. Submitted application does not guarantee confirmed enrolment.

CIVL5330 Global Engineering Fieldwork INDIA 4-17 DECEMBER 2017

The fieldwork is the main component of the Unit of Study – CIVL5330: Global Engineering Fieldwork. The credit obtained from this unit will count towards your degree and the Humanitarian Engineering major, as well as the practical experience component of your degree (*subject to approval for other Schools besides Civil Engineering). CIVL5330: Global Engineering Fieldwork is generally a 4th year unit however 3rd year students may be permitted to enroll because of scheduling and other constraints.

During the Global Engineering Fieldwork, you will work closely with partner organisations, gain exposure to a variety of community development models and learn about the role of local engineers and organisations, as well as ethical decision-making. The fieldwork also includes visits to historic cultural sites and a series of educational workshops that will prepare you for your design project in collaboration with local communities, covering: Introduction to development & community engagement, culture and language and appropriate technology for community development.

Dates: 4-17 December 2017

Location: Gujarat, India

Cost: International flights to India, personal expenses (passport and visa application costs if applicable) plus HECS/tuition enrolling into CIVL5330

Scholarships: thirty (30) New Colombo Plan (NCP) mobility grants are available to eligible undergraduate students who satisfy the NCP criteria (value $3,000).
To be eligible you must be:

  • an Australian citizen. Applicants with dual citizenship are eligible, however they must undertake their study in a third country, of which they are not a citizen;
  • enrolled in a Bachelor’s degree program at the University of Sydney;
  • between 18 and 28 years of age on 29 June 2017;
  • able to attend pre-departure training;
  • have not previously received funding for short-term New Colombo Plan mobility project.

For further information on NCP scholarships go to Australian mobility grants

International student scholarships are also available to selected students.

Selection Process: Participants for CIVL5330 will be selected on a competitive bases via an online application process. Submitted application does not guarantee confirmed enrolment. All applications will be assessed by a selection committee and successful applicants will be manually enrolled by the school of civil undergraduate coordinator once fieldwork is complete.

OS - Help loans: These are available for the unit to a value of either $2500 or $5000 for eligible students (loan value depends on other grants awarded) - details here

SUBMIT YOUR APPLICATION HERE CIVL5330 Fieldwork Application India December 2017


Info Session : CIVL5330 Global Fieldwork – India December 2017

Date: Tuesday 29 August 2017
Time: 12pm – 1pm
Location : PNR Learning Studio 311

The information session will cover the following:

  • details of the subject as an elective
  • learning outcomes from the fieldwork subject
  • details of the fieldwork program day to day in India
  • questions about logistics and organisation

Previous Fieldwork 2016

Want to learn more about our Design Summits?

In December 2016 in collaboration with EWB we held out first Design Summit in India. 19 University of Sydney students travelled to the Dang District, Gujarat, India.

If you are interested in the CIVL5330 Fieldwork in Samoa, click here to view student experiences in India.

Humanitarian Graduate Opportunities

Billions of dollars funnelled through engineering firms to scope, manage and execute projects such as water and sanitation, roads and bridges, housing, schools and hospitals in areas with underdeveloped infrastructure both in Australia and overseas. Large and small international organizations are involved in technological projects in remote Australian communities and developing nations which aim to improve the welfare of the local citizens. There is an increasing demand for professionals who have both technical engineering skills as well as good understanding of work across cultures in contexts with limited resources in organizations such the Department of Foreign Affairs or the Asian Development Bank as well as their partner engineering organizations such as Cardno or SMEC.

For further information please contact Dr Jacqueline Thomas