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Unit of study_

PHYS5033: Environmental Footprints and IO Analysis

Semester 1, 2022 [Normal day] - Remote

This unit of study will provide students with practical skills for carrying out environmental footprinting calculations: for individuals, companies, organisations or nations. In particular, this unit will provide a comprehensive introduction to input-output analysis for identifying impacts embodied in regional, national and global supply chains. This unit focuses on contemporary environmental applications such as emissions, energy-use, water, land, loss of animal and plant species; and also social applications such as employment, poverty and child labour. The unit first explores national and global economic and environmental accounting systems and their relationships to organisational accounting. Second, it presents cutting-edge techniques enabling the global analysis of environmental and social impacts of international trade. Third, it offers hands-on practical activities for mastering the input-output techniques conceived by Nobel Prize Laureate Wassily Leontief, and provides a step-by-step recipe for undertaking boundary-free environmental and social footprinting for sectors and organisations. Students will walk away from this unit equipped with useful skills needed to calculate footprints, and prepare sustainability reports for any organisation, city, region, or nation, using organisational data, economic input-output tables and environmental accounts. Students will also benefit from enrolling in PHYS5034 for a sound understanding of the role of input-output analysis within the field of Life-Cycle Assessment.

Unit details and rules

Unit code PHYS5033
Academic unit Physics Academic Operations
Credit points 6
Assumed knowledge


Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff

Coordinator Arunima Malik,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Assignment Sustainability report
Written report
40% Formal exam period See Canvas for more details
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8
Small test Lecture Tests
Multiple choice questions
10% Multiple weeks Weeks 4,6,8,10,11
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO6 LO5 LO4 LO3 LO2
Assignment Completion of homework tasks
See Canvas for more details
50% Multiple weeks Variable
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6

Assessment summary

  • Sustainability report assignment: This task requires students to prepare a sustainability report for a Council, providing quantitative figures for the calculation of their personal carbon footprint, based on techniques discussed in the lectures. Furthermore, students are required to provide a thorough discussion and a plan of action for reducing the footprint.
  • Homework tasks: Consistent completion of homework tasks applied to student’s own choice of example input-output system.
  • Multiple choice tests: These tests will take place during normal lecture weeks.

Detailed information for each assessment can be found in the Canvas site for this unit.

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.

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 Basics of input-output analysis: national accounting Lecture (3 hr) LO1
Week 02 Introduction to matrix algebra Lecture (3 hr) LO2
Week 03 Input-output table development and prices Lecture (3 hr) LO1
Week 04 The Direct requirements matrix and Leontief demand pull model Lecture (3 hr) LO3 LO4
Week 05 Construction of satellite accounts Lecture (3 hr) LO3 LO4 LO5
Week 06 Footprint calculations Lecture (3 hr) LO3 LO4 LO5
Week 07 MRIO - multi-regional input-output tables Lecture (3 hr) LO6
Week 08 Supply use tables and examples of footprinting Lecture (3 hr) LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8
Week 09 PLD - production layer decomposition Lecture (3 hr) LO5 LO6 LO7
Week 10 SPA - structural path analysis Lecture (3 hr) LO5 LO7
Week 11 Using MATLAB for sustainability assessments - I Lecture (3 hr) LO3 LO5 LO8
Week 12 Using MATLAB for sustainability assessments - II Lecture (3 hr) LO3 LO5 LO8
Week 13 From Academia to Industry - Modern Slavery Case Study Lecture (3 hr) LO8

Attendance and class requirements

 Attendance: 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.

Required readings

All readings for this unit can be accessed on the Library eReserve link available in the Canvas site for this unit.

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. appreciate the national accounts and their role in society
  • LO2. brush-up your linear algebra and matrix operations skills
  • LO3. understand the fundamentals of input-output theory and environmental extensions
  • LO4. understand the workings of economic demand-pull model
  • LO5. understand the applications of input-output analysis to environmental issues
  • LO6. deepen your knowledge of multi-region input-output models, applications of footprinting and MATLAB for sustainability assessments
  • LO7. apply input-output analysis to applications from a range of disciplines
  • LO8. apply input-output analysis to business settings.

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.

The learning activities have been updated, following student feedback.

Equity, Access and Diversity statement

The School of Physics recognises that biases, bullying and discrimination, including but not limited to those based on gender, race, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion and age, continue to impact parts of our community disproportionately. Consequently, the School is strongly committed to taking effective steps to make our environment supportive and inclusive and one that provides equity of access and opportunity for everyone.

The School has Equity Officers as a point of contact for students who may have a query or concern about any issues relating to equity, access and diversity. If you feel you have been treated unfairly, discriminated against, bullied or disadvantaged in any way, you are encouraged to talk to one of the Equity Officers or any member of the Physics staff.

More information can be found at


Any student who feels they may need a special accommodation based on the impact of a disability should contact Disability
Services: who can help arrange support.

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.

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