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Unit of study_

CSYS5020: Interdependent Civil Systems

Semester 1, 2021 [Normal evening] - Remote

Our modern day civil infrastructure includes transport networks, telecommunications, power systems, financial infrastructure and emergency services, all of which are growing more and more interconnected. Moreover, the behaviour of the modern infrastructure is not dependent only upon the behaviour of its parts: complex civil systems (such as modern power grids), communication and transport systems, megaprojects, social and eco-systems, generate rich interactions among the individual components with interdependencies across systems. This interdependent behaviour brings about significant new challenges associated with the design and management of complex systems. Cascading power failures, traffic disruptions, epidemic outbreaks, chronic diseases, financial market crashes, and ecosystem collapses are typical manifestations of these challenges, affecting the stability of modern society and civil infrastructure. This unit will develop an understanding of how interdependent systems perform under stress, how to improve resilience and how best to mitigate the effects of various kinds of component failure or human error, by more accurate analysis of interdependent cascades of failures across system boundaries. The studied topics will include dynamical analysis of complex interdependent networks, local and global measures of network structure and evolution, cascading failures, as well as predictive measures of catastrophic failure in complex adaptive systems, and the tools that enable planning for resilient infrastructure. This unit will equip future professionals with sufficient expertise and technical know-how for the design of efficient prevention and intervention policies, and robust crisis forecasting and management. This unit will equip future professionals with sufficient expertise and technical know-how for the design of efficient prevention and intervention policies, and robust crisis forecasting and management.

Unit details and rules

Unit code CSYS5020
Academic unit Civil Engineering
Credit points 6
Assumed knowledge


Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff

Coordinator Mahendra Piraveenan,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Assignment Assignment 1
33% Week 07 n/a
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Assignment group assignment Assignment 2
33% Week 09 n/a
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7
Assignment Assignment 3
calculation and computation assignment
34% Week 12 n/a
Outcomes assessed: LO2 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8
group assignment = group assignment ?

Assessment summary

The assignments will require you to integrate information from lectures and practicals to create a concise written argument

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

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 to interdependent civil systems Lecture (2 hr) LO5
Week 02 The world of networks Lecture and tutorial (3 hr) LO1 LO3 LO5
Topological analysis of complex networks: part 1 Lecture and tutorial (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO5
Week 04 Topological analysis of complex networks: part 2 Lecture and tutorial (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO5
Week 05 Cascading failures Online class (3 hr) LO1 LO5
Week 06 Measuring network robustness and resilience Online class (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO5
Week 07 Spectral methods Online class (3 hr) LO1 LO4 LO5
Week 08 Percolation in networks Online class (3 hr) LO5 LO7
Week 09 Game theory in networked systems Online class (3 hr) LO5 LO6
Week 10 Modelling epidemic spread in communities Online class (3 hr) LO4 LO5 LO8
Week 11 Modelling networked financial systems Online class (3 hr) LO4 LO5 LO8
Week 12 Modelling socio-ecological systems Online class (3 hr) LO4 LO5 LO8
Week 13 Modelling power and transport systems Online class (3 hr) LO4 LO5 LO8

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 through the Library eReserve, available on Canvas.

  • S. N. Dorogovtsev (Author), J.F.F. Mendes (Author), Evolution of Networks: From Biological Nets to the Internet and WWW (Physics) . Oxford University Press, 2003. 978-0198515906.

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. use elementary and intermediate programming skills to analyse, understand and simulate the dynamics of complex systems
  • LO2. apply topological analysis to a particular complex system to critically understand its structure
  • LO3. efficiently use existing software tools (e.g., Cityscape, Pajek ) in complex network analysis
  • LO4. develop scientific programming skills which can be applied in network analysis
  • LO5. develop understanding of the nature and dynamics of interdependent civil systems
  • LO6. understand and apply elementary game theory in networked civil systems to simulate their dynamics and cognitive decision making of the participating entities
  • LO7. understand, and successfully use in analysis, the concepts of percolation, cascading failures, robustness and related concepts within the context of interdependent systems
  • LO8. design basic network structures that satisfy structural and functional criteria within given domains and contexts.

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

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

No significant changes have been made since this unit was last offered


The University reserves the right to amend units of study or no longer offer certain units, including where there are low enrolment numbers.

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