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Unit of study_

GEOS3014: GIS in Coastal Management

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.


Academic unit Geosciences Academic Operations
Unit code GEOS3014
Unit name GIS in Coastal Management
Session, year
Semester 2, 2021
Attendance mode Normal day
Location Camperdown/Darlington, Sydney
Credit points 6

Enrolment rules

Either 12 credit points of Intermediate Geoscience units or [(GEOS2115 or GEOS2915) and (BIOL2018 or BIOL2918 or BIOL2024 or BIOL2924 or BIOL2028 or BIOL2928)]
Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff and contact details

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

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.

Special consideration

If you experience short-term circumstances beyond your control, such as illness, injury or misadventure or if you have essential commitments which impact your preparation or performance in an assessment, you may be eligible for special consideration or special arrangements.

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.

WK Topic Learning activity Learning outcomes
Week 01 Introduction to GIS Lecture (2 hr) LO1 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8
Intro to GIS software: ArcGIS Pro Basics Computer laboratory (3 hr) LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8
Week 02 Working with vector and raster data Lecture (2 hr) LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8
Determining bushfire overlap across species ranges Computer laboratory (3 hr) LO3 LO4
Week 03 Map projections and GPS Lecture (2 hr) LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8
Citizen Science/ Terrain Modelling Computer laboratory (3 hr) LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8
Week 04 Multi-criteria decision analysis in GIS Lecture (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8
Application of raster principles to coastal and marine spatial planning Computer laboratory (3 hr) LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8
Week 05 Predictive spatial modelling Lecture (2 hr) LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8
Predicting species distributions Computer laboratory (3 hr) LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8
Week 06 Spatial uncertainty, bias and GIS ethics Lecture (2 hr) LO3 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8
The role of field based validation Computer laboratory (3 hr) LO3 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8
Week 07 Remote sensing: principles Lecture (2 hr) LO5 LO6 LO7
Introduction to remote sensing Computer laboratory (3 hr) LO1 LO5 LO6 LO7
Week 08 Remote sensing: indices Lecture (2 hr) LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7
Remote sensing: indicies Computer laboratory (3 hr) LO5 LO6 LO7
Week 09 Remote sensing: classification Lecture (2 hr) LO4 LO6 LO7 LO8
Remote sensing: classification Computer laboratory (3 hr) LO5 LO6 LO7
Week 10 GIS applications: soil and fire Lecture (2 hr) LO5
GIS Project work Computer laboratory (3 hr) LO3 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8
Week 11 GIS applications: catchment to coast Lecture (2 hr) LO1 LO4 LO8
GIS Project work Computer laboratory (3 hr) LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8
Week 12 GIS applications: water security Lecture (2 hr) LO7 LO8
GIS Project work and presentations Computer laboratory (3 hr) LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8
Week 13 Unit Revision Q&A Lecture and tutorial (1 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8
Project Practical (3 hr) LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 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.

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. understand the implications of scientific uncertainty in managing coastal and marine environments
  • LO4. adopt principles of spatial reasoning and analysis in resolving complex coastal and marine management problems
  • LO5. apply advanced spatial analysis methods and develop GIS based decision support models
  • LO6. understand the importance of spatio-temporal scale and design in constructing and working with spatial data sets
  • LO7. adopt principles of geographical reasoning and analysis in resolving complex social and environmental problems
  • LO8. 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
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:


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