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Unit outline_

GEOS3014: GIS in Coastal Management

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

Coastal Management is about how scientific knowledge is used to support policy formulation and planning decisions in coastal environments. The course links coastal science to policy and practice in management of estuaries, beaches and the coastal ocean. The principles are exemplified through specific issues, such as coastal erosion, pollution, and impacts of climate-change. The issues are dealt with in terms of how things work in nature, and how the issues are handled through administrative mechanisms. These mechanisms involve planning strategies like Marine Protected Areas and setback limits on civil development in the coastal zone. The coastal environments and processes that are more relevant to coastal management including: rocky coasts; beaches, barriers and dunes; and coral reefs will also be introduced. At a practical level, the link between science and coastal management is given substance through development and use of 'decision-support models'. These models involve geocomputing methods that entail application of simulation models, remotely sensed information, and Geographic Information Systems (GIS). The course therefore includes both principles and experience in use of these methods to address coastal-management issues. (It thus also involves extensive use of computers.) Although the focus is on the coast, the principles and methods have broader relevance to environmental management in particular, and to problem-solving in general. That is, the course has vocational relevance in examining how science can be exploited to the benefit of society and nature conservation.

Unit details and rules

Academic unit Geosciences Academic Operations
Credit points 6
Either 12 credit points of Intermediate Geoscience units or [(GEOS2115 or GEOS2915) and (BIOL2018 or BIOL2918 or BIOL2024 or BIOL2924 or BIOL2028 or BIOL2928)]
Assumed knowledge


Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff

Coordinator Eleanor Bruce,
Lecturer(s) Bree Morgan,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Final exam (Open book) Type C final exam Final exam
Final exam
40% Formal exam period 2 hours
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8 LO9 LO10 LO11 LO12
Assignment Module 1 Lab Report
Written report
10% Week 03 n/a
Outcomes assessed: LO5 LO9 LO10 LO11 LO12
Assignment Module 2 Lab Report
Written report
10% Week 06 n/a
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO5 LO9 LO10 LO11 LO12
Assignment Module 3 Lab Report
Written report
10% Week 09 n/a
Outcomes assessed: LO5 LO10 LO11
Assignment GIS Project
Written report
30% Week 12 2000 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO9 LO10 LO11 LO12
Participation Practical and tutorial participation
Minimum 80% attendance
0% Weekly n/a
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO12 LO11 LO10 LO9 LO8 LO7 LO6 LO5 LO4 LO3 LO2
Participation hurdle task Academic honesty
0% Weekly n/a
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO12 LO11 LO10 LO9 LO8 LO7 LO6 LO5 LO4 LO3 LO2
hurdle task = hurdle task ?
Type C final exam = Type C final exam ?

Assessment summary

  • Planning report: A project report based on in-class work
  • Fieldwork report: A report based on Manly field work
  • Final exam: The exam will cover all material in the unit from both lectures and practical classes.

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

At HD level, a student demonstrates a flair for the subject and comprehensive knowledge and understanding of the unit material. A ‘High Distinction’ reflects exceptional achievement and is awarded to a student who demonstrates the ability to apply subject knowledge to novel situations.


75 - 84

At DI level, a student demonstrates an aptitude for the subject and a solid knowledge and understanding of the unit material. A ‘Distinction’ reflects excellent achievement and is awarded to a student who demonstrates an ability to apply the key ideas of the subject.


65 - 74

At CR level, a student demonstrates a good command and knowledge of the unit material. A ‘Credit’ 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.


50 - 64

At PS level, a student demonstrates proficiency in the unit material. A ‘Pass’ reflects satisfactory achievement and is awarded to a student who has threshold knowledge of the subject.


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 to GIS Lecture (2 hr) LO1 LO8 LO9 LO10 LO11 LO12
Intro to GIS software: ArcGIS Pro Basics Computer laboratory (3 hr) LO4 LO5 LO8 LO9 LO10 LO11 LO12
Week 02 Working with vector and raster data Lecture (2 hr) LO5 LO9 LO10 LO11 LO12
Determining bushfire overlap across species ranges Computer laboratory (3 hr) LO4 LO5
Week 03 Map projections and GPS Lecture (2 hr) LO5 LO9 LO10 LO11 LO12
Citizen Science/ Terrain Modelling Computer laboratory (3 hr) LO9 LO10 LO11 LO12
Week 04 Multi-criteria decision analysis in GIS Lecture (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO9 LO10 LO11 LO12
Application of raster principles to coastal and marine spatial planning Computer laboratory (3 hr) LO3 LO5 LO9 LO10 LO11 LO12
Week 05 Predictive spatial modelling Lecture (2 hr) LO4 LO5 LO9 LO10 LO11 LO12
Predicting species distributions Computer laboratory (3 hr) LO4 LO5 LO9 LO10 LO11 LO12
Week 06 Spatial uncertainty, bias and GIS ethics Lecture (2 hr) LO4 LO9 LO10 LO11 LO12
The role of field based validation Computer laboratory (3 hr) LO4 LO9 LO10 LO11 LO12
Week 07 Remote sensing: principles Lecture (2 hr) LO9 LO10 LO11
Introduction to remote sensing Computer laboratory (3 hr) LO1 LO3 LO9 LO10 LO11
Week 08 Remote sensing: indices Lecture (2 hr) LO5 LO9 LO10 LO11
Remote sensing: indicies Computer laboratory (3 hr) LO9 LO10 LO11
Week 09 Remote sensing: classification Lecture (2 hr) LO5 LO6 LO10 LO11 LO12
Remote sensing: classification Computer laboratory (3 hr) LO9 LO10 LO11
Week 10 GIS applications: soil and fire Lecture (2 hr) LO6 LO7 LO8 LO9
GIS Project work Computer laboratory (3 hr) LO3 LO4 LO9 LO10 LO11 LO12
Week 11 GIS applications: catchment to coast Lecture (2 hr) LO1 LO3 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8 LO12
GIS Project work Computer laboratory (3 hr) LO4 LO5 LO9 LO10 LO11 LO12
Week 12 GIS applications: water security Lecture (2 hr) LO7 LO8 LO11 LO12
GIS Project work and presentations Computer laboratory (3 hr) LO3 LO5 LO9 LO10 LO11 LO12

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. recognise why coastal and marine management is often challenged by the dynamic and open nature of these environments
  • LO2. explain why there are multiple definitions of the coastal zone and the implication of this for management
  • LO3. apply planning theory in addressing coastal and marine management issues (for example, mitigation of risk associated with natural hazards or reconciling conflicting agendas of development and environmental sustainability)
  • LO4. understand the implications of scientific uncertainty in managing coastal and marine environments
  • LO5. adopt principles of spatial reasoning and analysis in resolving complex coastal and marine management problems
  • LO6. explain how coastal contamination arises by a) altering natural system conditions, and b) adding synthetic pollutants, and discuss potential management strategies
  • LO7. understand how the cycling of matter, elements and energy at the Earth’ surface influences coastal processes and environmental health
  • LO8. recognise the importance of an integrated Earth system approach to coastal management
  • LO9. apply advanced spatial analysis methods and develop GIS based decision support models
  • LO10. understand the importance of spatio-temporal scale and design in constructing and working with spatial data sets
  • LO11. adopt principles of geographical reasoning and analysis in resolving complex social and environmental problems
  • LO12. reflect on how the outcomes of GIS-based models can inform coastal decision making and planning.

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.

Minor revisions have been made to the practical sessions in the second module in response to useful student feedback.

Additional costs

There are no additional costs for this unit. However, you will need to make your own transport arrangements to the Manly field site.

Site visit guidelines

Please check the Canvas site for this unit for any information.

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.

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:


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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