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Unit of study_

GEOS3520: Urban Citizenship and Sustainability

More than half the world's population now live in cities. The contemporary growth of cities, however, is attached to profound political and environmental questions about what it means to be urban, what 'being urban' means for the planet, and how we might produce more just and sustainable urban spaces and experiences. This Unit provides grounding to these crucial questions by examining urban environments from the dual perspectives of citizenship and sustainability. The Unit has three modules. Module 1 examines the intersection of urban environmental change with questions of citizenship and justice. Module 2 considers key urban environmental issues such as energy, transport and food, and how cities and citizens might address stresses and shocks in these systems. Module 3 studies new models for governing emergent urban environmental challenges. Throughout the semester, a Practical Project will involve a research project with real-world partners to introduce key skills related to working in collaboration with external organisations.


Academic unit Geosciences Academic Operations
Unit code GEOS3520
Unit name Urban Citizenship and Sustainability
Session, year
Semester 1, 2022
Attendance mode Normal day
Location Remote
Credit points 6

Enrolment rules

GEOS2X21 or GEOS2X23 or GOES2X15 or GEOS2X11 or LWSC2002
Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff and contact details

Coordinator Kurt Iveson,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Final exam (Take-home extended release) Type E final exam hurdle task Final take-home exam
48 hrs essay style
35% Formal exam period 24 hours
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO5 LO4 LO3 LO2
Assignment group assignment Practical assignment 2
Presentation and Submission of Final Report
20% Multiple weeks
Due date: 27 May 2022 at 17:00
15 minutes, 1500 words
Outcomes assessed: LO6 LO8 LO7
Assignment hurdle task Essay
Essay question set in Unit Handbook
35% Week 10
Due date: 02 May 2022 at 17:00
2000 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5
Participation Tutorial participation*
Informed and constructive contributions to tutorial discussion of readings
10% Weekly Tutorials take place weekly
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5
hurdle task = hurdle task ?
group assignment = group assignment ?
Type E final exam = Type E final exam ?

Tutorial participation – contributions to discussion in weekly tutorials

Main essay – 2000 essay answering question set on key concepts in the Unit

Practical project – group presentation and report on project with industry partner, supported by practical classes during semester

Final exam – essay-based take-home exam testing understanding of key concepts and use of examples

If a second replacement exam is required, this exam may be delivered via an alternative assessment method, such as a viva voce (oral exam). The alternative assessment will meet the same learning outcomes as the original exam. The format of the alternative assessment will be determined by the unit coordinator.

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

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

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

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

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.

This unit has an exception to the standard University policy or supplementary information has been provided by the unit coordinator. This information is displayed below:

5% per day without Special Consideration

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 urban citizenship and sustainability Lecture (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5
Week 02 Urban metabolism Lecture and tutorial (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5
Week 03 Urban Citizenship Lecture and tutorial (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5
Intro/ team formation Practical (2 hr) LO6 LO7 LO8
Week 04 Transport Lecture and tutorial (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5
Week 05 Housing Lecture and tutorial (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5
Group Project Workshop Practical (2 hr) LO6 LO7 LO8
Week 06 Water Lecture and tutorial (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5
Week 07 Energy Lecture and tutorial (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5
Group Project Workshop Practical (2 hr) LO6 LO7 LO8
Week 08 Communications Lecture and tutorial (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5
Week 09 Waste Lecture and tutorial (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5
Group Project Workshop Practical (2 hr) LO6 LO7 LO8
Week 10 Repair and Reparations Lecture and tutorial (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5
Week 11 Recognition and Anti-Racism Lecture and tutorial (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5
Week 12 Decommodification Lecture and tutorial (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5
Final presentations Practical (2 hr) LO6 LO7 LO8
Week 13 Conclusion: Class discussion on principles for action Lecture and tutorial (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5

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

Tutorial readings are listed in the Unit of Study Handbook and will be available through the Library.

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. describe the relationships between cities, citizens, environments and in/sustainability
  • LO2. define citizenship, environmental justice and urban metabolism, and describe their relationship to urbanisation
  • LO3. apply your understanding of the relationship between cities, justice and citizenship to critically reflect on different approaches to urban sustainability
  • LO4. describe contemporary socio-environmental challenges facing cities and assess different governance frameworks for addressing them
  • LO5. articulate your own preferred concept of sustainability and be able to justify your position
  • LO6. converse with government officials, activists and business interests about the topic of sustainability, its potentials and its limits
  • LO7. work effectively in groups, and understand why a group is working well or is not working well
  • LO8. write a report targeted to civil society organisations (as distinct from an academic essay)

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
Adjustments have been made to lecture topics and practical program in response to student feedback from 2021

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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