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Unit outline_

ENSC2001: Environmental Monitoring

Semester 1, 2021 [Normal day] - Camperdown/Darlington, Sydney

Human population growth is causing irreversible change to almost all environments on earth. The extent of human change has been so great that a new geological epoch, the anthropocene, has been defined. Global warming, the introduction of pollutants and excessive use of nutrients are stressors affecting the biodiversity and resilience of ecosystems, and pose threats to human and environmental health. These human impacts carefully need to be monitored to guide appropriate management of urban, natural and agricultural systems. In this unit you will learn about transport pathways of pollutants, bioaccumulation, environmental toxicology (e.g., LD50 values), environmental monitoring and remediation techniques. Through lectures, laboratories and group work, concepts and methods of environmental monitoring will be illustrated and discussed including findings from the latest research. You will participate in structured practical exercises and field trips where you will apply sampling techniques, use bio-indicators and diversity indices to monitor ecosystem functioning. You will interpret the results and assess what the implications are for the ecological functioning and sustainable management of the environment. These hands-on exercises will be complemented with case-studies to guide you in critically analysing and evaluating environmental monitoring data. By taking this unit, you will acquire the necessary skills and knowledge in monitoring sites impacted by human activity.

Unit details and rules

Academic unit Life and Environmental Sciences Academic Operations
Credit points 6
Prerequisites
? 
None
Corequisites
? 
None
Prohibitions
? 
AGCH3033
Assumed knowledge
? 

Understanding of scientific principles and concepts including biodiversity, human impacts on the environment, properties of substances (e.g., acidity, alkalinity, solvents) and basic knowledge of statistics.

Available to study abroad and exchange students

Yes

Teaching staff

Coordinator Feike Dijkstra, feike.dijkstra@sydney.edu.au
Lecturer(s) Malcolm Possell, malcolm.possell@sydney.edu.au
Type Description Weight Due Length
Final exam (Record+) Type B final exam Final exam
CANVAS timed exam, open book
60% Formal exam period 2 hours
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO7
Assignment Lab reports (*3)
Based on the field and lab work
30% Multiple weeks 1500-2000 words
Outcomes assessed: LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8
Presentation group assignment Group presentation
Submission of Powerpoint slides with written narrative
10% Week 08 10 minutes
Outcomes assessed: LO8
group assignment = group assignment ?
Type B final exam = Type B final exam ?

Assessment summary

  • Group presentation: Group activity, where 3-4 students will present a monitoring plan of a site with a specific environmental problem handed out at the start of the semester.
  • Lab reports: You will write 3 lab reports (on water, soil and air quality measurements, respectively) based on the field and lab work.
  • Final exam: There will be a final exam at the end of the semester assessing your understanding of material covered during the lectures and laboratories. The exam will consist of multiple choice and short answer questions, including some calculations.
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

Description

High distinction

85 - 100

Awarded when you demonstrate the learning outcomes for the unit at an exceptional standard, as defined by your mark for your final exam and the grade descriptors for your oral presentation and lab reports. You demonstrate a flair for the subject and comprehensive knowledge and understanding of the unit material. It reflects exceptional achievement and is awarded to a student who demonstrates the ability to apply subject knowledge to novel situations.

Distinction

75 - 84

Awarded when you demonstrate the learning outcomes for the unit at a very high standard, as defined by your mark for your final exam and the grade descriptors for your oral presentation and lab reports. You demonstrate an aptitude for the subject and a solid knowledge and understanding of the unit material. It reflects excellent achievement and is awarded to a student who demonstrates an ability to apply the key ideas of the subject.

Credit

65 - 74

Awarded when you demonstrate the learning outcomes for the unit at a good standard, as defined by your mark for your final exam and the grade descriptors for your oral presentation and lab reports. You demonstrate a good command and knowledge of the unit material. It reflects solid achievement and is awarded to a student who has a broad understanding of the unit material but has not fully developed the ability to apply the key ideas of the subject.

Pass

50 - 64

Awarded when you demonstrate the learning outcomes for the unit at an acceptable standard, as defined by your mark for your final exam and the grade descriptors for your oral presentation and lab reports. You demonstrate proficiency in the unit material. It reflects satisfactory achievement and is awarded to a student who has threshold knowledge of the subject.

Fail

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 Why monitor Lecture (2 hr) LO1
Week 02 Sampling and data analyses Lecture (2 hr) LO5
Sampling and analyses of water quality at Centennial Park Field trip (4 hr) LO5 LO6
Week 03 Sampling designs Lecture (2 hr) LO5
Analyses of water quality from water samples at Centennial Park Science laboratory (3 hr) LO6 LO7 LO8
Sampling design/data analyses Tutorial (1 hr) LO5
Week 04 Monitoring water quality - parameters Lecture (2 hr) LO5 LO7
Analyses of water quality from water samples at Centennial Park Science laboratory (3 hr) LO6 LO7 LO8
Week 05 Monitoring water quality – Eutrophication and sampling Lecture (2 hr) LO4 LO5 LO7
Sampling and analyses of soil quality at Miranda Park Field trip (4 hr) LO5 LO6
Week 06 Monitoring of soil quality – Organic pollutants: pesticides and poly-aromatic hydrocarbons Lecture (2 hr) LO4 LO5 LO7
Analyses of soil quality from soil samples at Miranda Park Science laboratory (3 hr) LO6 LO7 LO8
Water quality example calculations Tutorial (1 hr) LO5 LO7
Week 07 Monitoring of soil quality – heavy metals and engineered nanoparticles Lecture (2 hr) LO4 LO5 LO7
Analyses of soil quality from soil samples at Miranda Park Science laboratory (3 hr) LO6 LO7 LO8
Week 08 Student presentations Lecture (2 hr) LO8
Analyses of soil quality from soil samples at Miranda Park Science laboratory (3 hr) LO6 LO7 LO8
Week 09 Monitoring of air quality 1 Lecture (2 hr) LO5 LO7
Soil quality example calculations Tutorial (1 hr) LO5 LO7
Week 10 Monitoring of air quality 2 Lecture (2 hr) LO5 LO7
Sampling and analysis of air quality around Australian Technology Park Science laboratory (3 hr) LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8
Week 11 Monitoring of air quality 3 Lecture (2 hr) LO5 LO7
Sampling and analysis of air quality around Australian Technology Park Science laboratory (3 hr) LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8
Week 12 Introduction to ecotoxicology Lecture (2 hr) LO2
Sampling and analysis of air quality around Australian Technology Park Science laboratory (3 hr) LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8
Air quality example calculations Tutorial (1 hr) LO5 LO7
Week 13 Use of bio-indicators Lecture (2 hr) LO3

Attendance and class requirements

Due to the exceptional circumstances caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, attendance requirements for this unit of study have been amended. Where online tutorials/workshops/virtual laboratories have been scheduled, students should make every effort to attend and participate at the scheduled time. Penalties will not be applied if technical issues, etc. prevent attendance at a specific online class. In that case, students should discuss the problem with the coordinator, and attend another session, if available.

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.

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. explain the importance of environmental monitoring in urban, natural and managed ecosystems
  • LO2. identify measures of exposure and bioaccumulation of pollutants and nutrients in organisms
  • LO3. apply bio-indicators and biodiversity indices to assess ecosystem functioning and health
  • LO4. define remediation techniques for sites with specific pollution problems
  • LO5. design sampling strategies to assess the risk of specific sites to human and environmental health
  • LO6. carry out sampling and analyses of air, water and soil samples
  • LO7. evaluate environmental monitoring data and guidelines
  • LO8. communicate environmental monitoring results to a range of audiences.

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
GQ1 GQ2 GQ3 GQ4 GQ5 GQ6 GQ7 GQ8 GQ9

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

Thanks all for the overall positive feedback. In general, it appears that the field and lab work were well perceived and that the unit had relevant content. One aspect that stood out was that several of you commented on the fact that the lab reports took a lot of work, but were only weighted 10% each of the final mark. I agree with these comments and consider giving more weight to the lab reports in the future. Thanks for taking the unit, you were a very enjoyable group to work with!

Work, health and safety

Completion of the Canvas module “Zoonosis Awareness” is compulsory.

We are governed by the Work Health and Safety Act 2011, Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011 and Codes of Practice. Penalties for non-compliance have increased. Everyone has a responsibility for health and safety at work. The University’s Work Health and Safety policy explains the responsibilities and expectations of workers and others, and the procedures for managing WHS risks associated with University activities.

General Laboratory Safety Rules

  • No eating or drinking is allowed in any laboratory under any circumstances 
  • A laboratory coat and closed-toe shoes are mandatory 
  • Follow safety instructions in your manual and posted in laboratories 
  • In case of fire, follow instructions posted outside the laboratory door 
  • First aid kits, eye wash and fire extinguishers are located in or immediately outside each laboratory 
  • As a precautionary measure, it is recommended that you have a current tetanus immunisation. This can be obtained from University Health Service: unihealth.usyd.edu.au/

Disclaimer

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

To help you understand common terms that we use at the University, we offer an online glossary.