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Unit of study_

ENVI3114: Energy and the Environment

Semester 2, 2020 [Normal day] - Camperdown/Darlington, Sydney

This unit covers many aspects of energy and the environment: energy resources and use; electrical power generation including fossil fuelled and alternate methods; environmental impacts of energy use and power generation including greenhouse gas emissions; transportation and pollution; energy management in buildings; solar thermal energy, photovoltaics, wind power and nuclear energy; embodied energy and net emissions analysis and, importantly, socio-economic and political issues related to energy provision.

Unit details and rules

Unit code ENVI3114
Academic unit Physics Academic Operations
Credit points 6
ENVI3001 or PHYS3600
12 credit points of Intermediate units
Assumed knowledge

Junior Physics units or Intermediate Environmental Science units

Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff

Coordinator Arne Geschke,
Lecturer(s) Arne Geschke,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Assignment Written task
take-home assignment on an energy-related topic
50% Formal exam period 3 weeks after release
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8
Presentation group assignment Seminar presentation
in groups of two, students will prepare and present a particular topic
20% Multiple weeks up to 10 mins
Outcomes assessed: LO8
Tutorial quiz Quizzes
4 online quizzes at beginning of lecture
10% Multiple weeks 10 mins
Outcomes assessed: LO2 LO6 LO5 LO4 LO3
Assignment Calculation task
take-home calculation assessment based on the tutorials
20% Week 12 2 weeks after release
Outcomes assessed: LO2 LO9 LO4 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

Awarded when you demonstrate the learning outcomes for the unit at an exceptional standard, as defined by grade descriptors or exemplars outlined by your faculty or school.


75 - 84

Awarded when you demonstrate the learning outcomes for the unit at a very high standard, as defined by grade descriptors or exemplars outlined by your faculty or school.


65 - 74

Awarded when you demonstrate the learning outcomes for the unit at a good standard, as defined by grade descriptors or exemplars outlined by your faculty or school.


50 - 64

Awarded when you demonstrate the learning outcomes for the unit at an acceptable standard, as defined by grade descriptors or exemplars outlined by your faculty or school.


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 1. Socio-economic aspects of energy; 2. Introduction to energy forms and units Lecture (2 hr) LO1
1. Welcome; 2 Course introduction Seminar (1 hr) LO2
Week 02 Traditional energy resources and electricity generation Lecture (2 hr) LO2
Week 03 How do electricity markets work? Lecture (2 hr) LO3
Australia’s greenhouse response Seminar (1 hr) LO3
Week 04 1. Energy systems; 2. Practical aspects of energy use Lecture (2 hr) LO3 LO4
Calculations Seminar (1 hr) LO4
Week 05 Solar thermal energy / Photovoltaics I Lecture (2 hr) LO2
How viable is new fossil electricity generation in Australia? Seminar (1 hr) LO4
Week 06 Photovoltaics II Lecture (2 hr) LO6
Solar technology: options and limitations Seminar (1 hr) LO1
Week 07 1. Other renewable energy technologies; 2. Energy storage Lecture (2 hr) LO4 LO6
Calculations 2 Seminar (1 hr) LO9
Week 08 Guest lecture: energy policy and economics (tbc) Lecture (2 hr) LO2
Energy research policy Seminar (1 hr) LO5
Week 09 Guest lecture: energy providers and renewable energy (tbc) Lecture (2 hr) LO2 LO3 LO6
Calculations 3 Tutorial (1 hr) LO9
Week 10 Nuclear energy Lecture (2 hr) LO2 LO3 LO8
Does nuclear energy have a future in Australia Seminar (1 hr) LO4 LO5
Week 11 Transport systems Lecture (2 hr) LO1
How do we solve the mobility problem? Seminar (1 hr) LO1
Week 12 Buildings and energy conservation Lecture (2 hr) LO2 LO3
Buildings and planning Seminar (1 hr) LO8

Attendance and class requirements

  • Attendance: Participation in the presentation seminar is mandatory for each student.
  • Required materials: You must bring your laptop/tablet to those session when quizzes are scheduled.

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. be aware of the profound importance of energy in modern societies
  • LO2. understand fundamental energy concepts such as energy sources, energy conversion and energy efficiency
  • LO3. make connections between energy use, energy technology, policy and sustainable development
  • LO4. have developed analytical skills for assessing energy issues
  • LO5. have demonstrated critical thinking in the seminars and in essays on topics relating different scientific aspects of energy use
  • LO6. have a good overview of renewable energy technologies
  • LO7. explain the current general energy situation with social and economic factors, and how it is related to greenhouse gas emissions, then generalise these into different future energy scenarios
  • LO8. argue coherently for a particular point of view, both verbally and in a written form
  • LO9. do simple but comprehensive energy calculations.

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.

Sessions and tutorials have been improved based on student feedback and latest educational research.

Work, health and safety

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.


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.