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Unit of study_

DESC9202: Water Sensitive Design

Semester 2, 2022 [Block mode] - Camperdown/Darlington, Sydney

As cities expand and weather becomes more unstable, the need to design buildings and neighbourhoods that use less water has become ever more important. This unit examines the emerging problems with water usage in the built environment and how design can tackle them. It takes an interdisciplinary approach to water sensitive design, drawing on insights from landscape urbanism, climate science, building services and sustainable architecture. The unit explores the changing valuation of water in the built environment and methods to improve ecological amenity and minimise net water use in buildings. By examining water sensitive strategies and technologies, students will be challenged to think beyond current approaches and apply their learning from this unit to demonstrate the way that design innovation can effectively address the challenge of water in the built environment.

Unit details and rules

Unit code DESC9202
Academic unit Architectural and Design Science
Credit points 6
Assumed knowledge


Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff

Coordinator Daniel Ryan,
Lecturer(s) Daniel Ryan,
Alexa McAuley,
David Knights,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Assignment Assignment 2
Proposal, Report
60% Formal exam period
Due date: 15 Nov 2022 at 23:59
3000 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6
Assignment group assignment Assignment 1
40% Week 07 3000 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO5 LO6
group assignment = group assignment ?

Assessment summary

  1. You will write an in-depth report looking at how land has been transformed over time and the effect on the water cycle
  2. You will prepare an illustrated report for a water sensitive design for a part of your study site

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

Work of outstanding quality, demonstrating mastery of the learning outcomes assessed. The work shows significant innovation, experimentation, critical analysis, synthesis, insight, creativity, and/or exceptional skill.


75 - 84

Work of excellent quality, demonstrating a sound grasp of the learning outcomes assessed. The work shows innovation, experimentation, critical analysis, synthesis, insight, creativity, and/or superior skill.


65 - 74

Work of good quality, demonstrating more than satisfactory achievement of the learning outcomes assessed, or work of excellent quality for a majority of the learning outcomes assessed.


50 - 64

Work demonstrating satisfactory achievement of the learning outcomes assessed.


0 - 49

Work that does not demonstrate satisfactory achievement of one or more of the learning outcomes assessed.

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 Intro to the unit. Water sensitive cities frameworks part 1. Lecture (5 hr) LO1 LO5
Introduction to the assignments; reading the land Tutorial (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO5
Week 03 Water sensitive cities frameworks part 2. Case studies. Lecture (5 hr) LO1 LO2 LO6
Review of draft research Tutorial (2 hr) LO1 LO5 LO6
Week 07 WSD & Ecological Principles. WSD & Engineering principles. WSD & Landscape Principles. Best Practice case studies. Lecture (5 hr) LO2 LO4 LO5
Introduction to assessment 2 Tutorial (2 hr) LO5 LO6
Week 09 Planning & Policy. Zero Water Demand. Minimising Wastewater Discharge. Minimising Stormwater Runoff. Defining objectives and baselines. Lecture (5 hr) LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5
Defining site objectives, baselines & best practice; basic calculations Tutorial (2 hr) LO1 LO3 LO5 LO6
Week 12 Emerging issues and opportunities for water sensitive design Lecture (5 hr) LO2 LO5 LO6
Draft presentation Tutorial (2 hr) LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6

Attendance and class requirements

Please refer to the Resolutions of the University School:

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

See canvas site

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. apply water sensitive design frameworks to evaluate the built environment
  • LO2. understand how stormwater can be transformed into a resource by integrated design and water sensitive technologies.
  • LO3. perform manual design calculations and evaluate different design strategies.
  • LO4. select water sensitive technologies for use in buildings and urban spaces.
  • LO5. find and critically evaluate information on water sensitive design.
  • LO6. communicate effectively about water sensitive design topics.

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.

Course has been maintained following postitive feedback last year. Additional emphasis on simple calculations added following feedback from students for more quantitative approaches.

Site visit guidelines

Site visits will depend on evolving government health advice. See canvas for details.


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