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Unit outline_

CIVL2010: Environmental Engineering

Semester 2, 2021 [Normal day] - Remote

This unit introduces students to the role of civil engineers and the historical development of the profession, and relates this to the Code of Ethics - Engineers Australia; impact of engineering on the human and natural environment; energy consumption, resourcing and renewal, dealing with variability in climate; definitions and practice of sustainability; environmental assessment tools and life-cycle analyses. As graduates, students may expect to find themselves in a position which touches upon a wide variety of Engineering fields (including legal, institutional, and environmental considerations). In both small and large firms they could be acting as agents and managers of technology-driven change which has social and environmental impact. Engineering decision-making and problem-solving are made more complex by technical, economic, environmental, social and ethical constraints. The goals of this unit are to introduce students to major problems of environmental deterioration 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, video production and written report writing. Lectures, group discussions, case problems and projects are all used in teaching and learning in this unit of study.

Unit details and rules

Academic unit Civil Engineering
Credit points 6
Assumed knowledge

MATH1023 AND ENGG1801. Strong calculus knowledge from 1000 level MATH, as well as the ability to program in MATLAB. Basic understanding of structural mechanics (CIVL2201) is also an advantage.

Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff

Coordinator Benjy Marks,
Lecturer(s) Benjy Marks,
Abbas El-Zein,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Assignment Climate Investigation
10% Week 04 n/a
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO6
Assignment group assignment Sustainability Project
15% Week 07 n/a
Outcomes assessed: LO3 LO6 LO7
Assignment Computing Assignment
25% Week 10 n/a
Outcomes assessed: LO4 LO5
Assignment Major Project
40% Week 13 n/a
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6
Participation Tutorial participation
Tutorial participation mark
10% Weekly 13 x one hour tutorials
Outcomes assessed: LO3
group assignment = group assignment ?

Assessment summary

Detailed information for each assessment can be found on Canvas.

Assessment criteria

The University awards common result grades, set out in the Coursework Policy 2014 (Schedule 1).

As a general guide, a high distinction indicates work of an exceptional standard, a distinction a very high standard, a credit a good standard, and a pass an acceptable standard.

Result name

Mark range


High distinction

85 - 100



75 - 84



65 - 74



50 - 64



0 - 49

When you don’t meet the learning outcomes of the unit to a satisfactory standard.

For more information see guide to grades.

Late submission

In accordance with University policy, these penalties apply when written work is submitted after 11:59pm on the due date:

  • Deduction of 5% of the maximum mark for each calendar day after the due date.
  • After ten calendar days late, a mark of zero will be awarded.

Academic integrity

The Current Student website  provides information on academic integrity and the resources available to all students. The University expects students and staff to act ethically and honestly and will treat all allegations of academic integrity breaches seriously.  

We use similarity detection software to detect potential instances of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breach. If such matches indicate evidence of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breaches, your teacher is required to report your work for further investigation.

You may only use artificial intelligence and writing assistance tools in assessment tasks if you are permitted to by your unit coordinator, and if you do use them, you must also acknowledge this in your work, either in a footnote or an acknowledgement section.

Studiosity is permitted for postgraduate units unless otherwise indicated by the unit coordinator. The use of this service must be acknowledged in your submission.

Simple extensions

If you encounter a problem submitting your work on time, you may be able to apply for an extension of five calendar days through a simple extension.  The application process will be different depending on the type of assessment and extensions cannot be granted for some assessment types like exams.

Special consideration

If exceptional circumstances mean you can’t complete an assessment, you need consideration for a longer period of time, or if you have essential commitments which impact your performance in an assessment, you may be eligible for special consideration or special arrangements.

Special consideration applications will not be affected by a simple extension application.

Using AI responsibly

Co-created with students, AI in Education includes lots of helpful examples of how students use generative AI tools to support their learning. It explains how generative AI works, the different tools available and how to use them responsibly and productively.

WK Topic Learning activity Learning outcomes
Week 01 Introduction Lecture and tutorial (5 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3
Week 02 Climate Lecture and tutorial (5 hr) LO1 LO2 LO4
Week 03 Climate Lecture and tutorial (5 hr) LO1 LO2 LO4
Week 04 Sustainable systems Lecture and tutorial (5 hr) LO7
Week 05 Sustainable systems Lecture and tutorial (5 hr) LO7
Week 06 Sustainable systems Lecture and tutorial (5 hr) LO7
Week 07 Pollution Lecture and tutorial (5 hr) LO5
Week 08 Pollution Lecture and tutorial (5 hr) LO5
Week 09 Pollution Lecture and tutorial (5 hr) LO5
Week 10 Energy Lecture and tutorial (5 hr) LO4 LO6
Week 11 Energy Lecture and tutorial (5 hr) LO4 LO6
Week 12 Energy Lecture and tutorial (5 hr) LO4 LO6
Week 13 Energy Lecture and tutorial (5 hr) LO4 LO6
Weekly Readings, pre-work, exercises Independent study (5 hr) LO1 LO2 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7

Study commitment

Typically, there is a minimum expectation of 1.5-2 hours of student effort per week per credit point for units of study offered over a full semester. For a 6 credit point unit, this equates to roughly 120-150 hours of student effort in total.

Required readings

All readings for this unit can be accessed on the Library eReserve link available on Canvas.

Learning outcomes are what students know, understand and are able to do on completion of a unit of study. They are aligned with the University's graduate qualities and are assessed as part of the curriculum.

At the completion of this unit, you should be able to:

  • LO1. analyse the role civil engineers play in addressing global environmental problems such as climate change
  • LO2. interpret scholarly literature in the context of engineering practice
  • LO3. communicate effectively, both verbally and in writing, on technical topics
  • LO4. apply the 1st and 2nd laws of thermodynamics to environmental problems
  • LO5. calculate the spread of airborne pollution
  • LO6. examine anthropogenic climate change including its causes, impacts and implications.
  • LO7. critically appraise environmental sustainability through the prism of system dynamics

Graduate qualities

The graduate qualities are the qualities and skills that all University of Sydney graduates must demonstrate on successful completion of an award course. As a future Sydney graduate, the set of qualities have been designed to equip you for the contemporary world.

GQ1 Depth of disciplinary expertise

Deep disciplinary expertise is the ability to integrate and rigorously apply knowledge, understanding and skills of a recognised discipline defined by scholarly activity, as well as familiarity with evolving practice of the discipline.

GQ2 Critical thinking and problem solving

Critical thinking and problem solving are the questioning of ideas, evidence and assumptions in order to propose and evaluate hypotheses or alternative arguments before formulating a conclusion or a solution to an identified problem.

GQ3 Oral and written communication

Effective communication, in both oral and written form, is the clear exchange of meaning in a manner that is appropriate to audience and context.

GQ4 Information and digital literacy

Information and digital literacy is the ability to locate, interpret, evaluate, manage, adapt, integrate, create and convey information using appropriate resources, tools and strategies.

GQ5 Inventiveness

Generating novel ideas and solutions.

GQ6 Cultural competence

Cultural Competence is the ability to actively, ethically, respectfully, and successfully engage across and between cultures. In the Australian context, this includes and celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, knowledge systems, and a mature understanding of contemporary issues.

GQ7 Interdisciplinary effectiveness

Interdisciplinary effectiveness is the integration and synthesis of multiple viewpoints and practices, working effectively across disciplinary boundaries.

GQ8 Integrated professional, ethical, and personal identity

An integrated professional, ethical and personal identity is understanding the interaction between one’s personal and professional selves in an ethical context.

GQ9 Influence

Engaging others in a process, idea or vision.

Outcome map

Learning outcomes Graduate qualities

Alignment with Competency standards

Outcomes Competency standards
Engineers Australia Curriculum Performance Indicators - EAPI
3.4. An understanding of and commitment to ethical and professional responsibilities.
4.5. An ability to undertake problem solving, design and project work within a broad contextual framework accommodating social, cultural, ethical, legal, political, economic and environmental responsibilities as well as within the principles of sustainable development and health and safety imperatives.

This section outlines changes made to this unit following staff and student reviews.

The message below was sent out in response to USS feedback to students in 2020: I would like to thank you for the constructive feedback you all gave in the USS this year. I have tried to group the main feedback into four separate topics, which I will address individually. Firstly, many of you commented that the tutorials were too short, and it was difficult to complete all of the work during the tutorial time. For next year, I will move some of introductory parts of each tutorial into pre-work, so that it can be completed before the tutorial. This should reduce the strain on what should be completed in each tutorial, and also help to keep everyone on track. Secondly, the use of for the tutorials proved quite contentious. Several people commented on connection issues, and that this platform detracted from their learning experience. Next year we will investigate other alternatives and attempt to find a solution where we can promote small group interaction and also maintain reliable connectivity. Thirdly, a few people commented that the lecture watch parties were not successful in getting a sense of interaction. I wholly understand this and agree that the lecture component of the course was underwhelming. I am not sure what is the best alternative for this course, but will trial an alternative system next year that will promote interactivity and allow for current events to be integrated into the course content. Finally, several people commented specifically on the Quantifying the Environment assessment. Some found this assessment too hard in general. Others thought that it assessed more their coding skills than their understanding of environmental engineering. Many people commented that they had no prior programming experience, and that they were therefore incapable of doing well in this assessment. I would like to point out that ENGG1801 is assumed knowledge for CIVL2010, and that you are therefore assumed to have basic programming skills. ENGG1801 is an introductory course, but it is not the end of your programming journey. As you progress in your degree (and your career), the level of programming required of you will grow, as you acquire more skills and experience. Increased computational literacy is one of the biggest requests that we get from our industry advisory boards and employer surveys. It is for this reason that we are attempting to teach advanced programming skills. In CIVL2010 we had several tutorials, and significant lecture time, dedicated to the programming skills required for these assessments. We also had the drop in coding sessions, which I understand were a big success, with many of you commenting on the usefulness of these. I do not plan to significantly alter this assessment in future years, although if you have specific improvements that you can think of, please contact me and I would be very interested to hear your suggestions. Overall, I thought last semester went quite well, and I look forward to implementing the changes outlined above. For the first time in the history of CIVL2010 we had a student achieve 100% in the course and I would like to congratulate them on their outstanding achievement. I wish you all the best in the coming semester and look forward to seeing you around campus and online in the future. If you are ever looking for someone to talk to or for some advice in general, please drop by office in the civil engineering building, or reach out via email or zoom. Benjy


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