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Unit of study_

SUST5003: Energy and Resources

Semester 1, 2023 [Normal evening] - Remote

The consumption of energy underpins human development, but it carries environmental and social costs. This unit of study examines how energy is supplied, how it is used and the impact it has on society and on the environment. The unit also looks are critical resources, the most critical being water, and how the critical resources are linked to energy. The module will examine these relationships and how the demand for water, sustainable energy and for critical minerals will require major changes in technology, policy and business systems. Students will gain an understanding of different sources of energy and their uses; the economic, environmental and societal contexts of energy and resource use; the need and scope for a transition from conventional energy sources; sound principles for analysing different resource and energy supply options; the role of international agreements and federal policy in influencing resource and energy use.

Unit details and rules

Unit code SUST5003
Academic unit Science Faculty
Credit points 6
Assumed knowledge


Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff

Coordinator Gordon Weiss,
Lecturer(s) Gordon Weiss,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Assignment Research paper 1
Discussion of a recent relevant media article
10% Week 03
Due date: 10 Mar 2023 at 23:59
750 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Assignment Research paper 2
Discussion of a recent relevant media article
10% Week 05
Due date: 24 Mar 2023 at 23:59
750 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Assignment Board/Conference Presentation
Short written report plus accompanying recorded presentation.and slides
30% Week 08
Due date: 21 Apr 2023 at 23:59
5 minute presentation, 1000 word paper
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5
Assignment Research paper 3
Discussion of a recent relevant media article
10% Week 11
Due date: 12 May 2023 at 23:59
750 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO4 LO5
Assignment group assignment National energy policy
Detailed written report
40% Week 13
Due date: 26 May 2023 at 23:59
5000 words
Outcomes assessed: LO6 LO1 LO4 LO5
group assignment = group assignment ?

Assessment summary

Research papers: In these assessments, you will need to construct policy briefings for an audience of your choice. You should structure the language and logic of your argument to best suit the audience’s needs and interests. Your possible audiences are:

  • The Shadow Minister for Climate Change
  • CEO of the NGO Conservation International
  • Journalist for the Environment column of the Guardian

Board presentation: You are answering the following question posed by a company that your work for: “If we are to invest in one resource for the future, which one will it be and why”. The response is to be done from the perspective of an investor of private capital not from the perspective of society. The deliverables are a brief report and five-minute recorded presentation.

National energy policy: Each group will be required to write the energy policy for a selected country. This will require your group to review the current and future energy mix for the nation, understand its renewable resources and then propose a mix of energy types to meet the projected demand. This will test your understanding of the component of the course that covered energy systems.

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 Introduction to the course. Lecture and tutorial (2.5 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3
Week 02 Overview of energy systems Lecture and tutorial (2.5 hr) LO1 LO4
Week 03 Overview of the clean energy transition Lecture and tutorial (2.5 hr) LO1 LO4 LO5
Week 04 The challenges of supplying critical minerals Lecture and tutorial (2.5 hr) LO1 LO3 LO4 LO5
Week 05 Critical minerals and the link with energy Lecture and tutorial (2.5 hr) LO1 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6
Week 06 Water resources and the energy-water nexus Lecture and tutorial (2.5 hr) LO1 LO2 LO5 LO6
Week 07 The role of government policy in developing and managing energy systems Lecture and tutorial (2.5 hr) LO1 LO4 LO5 LO6
Week 08 The future of electricity and the role of electrification and storage Lecture and tutorial (2.5 hr) LO1 LO4
Week 09 Generating and supplying electricity now and in the future Lecture and tutorial (2.5 hr) LO1 LO4 LO6
Week 10 Stationary energy including fuels as feedstocks Lecture and tutorial (2.5 hr) LO1 LO4 LO5 LO6
Week 11 Transport now and in the future Lecture and tutorial (2.5 hr) LO1 LO4 LO5 LO6
Week 12 Energy and emissions. Carbon accounting Lecture and tutorial (2.5 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3
Week 13 Review of the course Lecture and tutorial (2.5 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5

Attendance and class requirements

Attendance: This course has no final exam so it is a requirement for passing that you attend, as an absolute minimum, 10 of the 13 lectures.

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. Demonstrate an understanding of energy production & use, sustainable energy resources & technologies, relevant policy matters, climate change, & energy security.
  • LO2. Demonstrate an understanding of water resources and the relationship between water and energy.
  • LO3. Demonstrate an understanding of key mineral resources and the relationship between mineral extraction and energy use and production
  • LO4. Ability to research a variety of sources of market information, critically assess and form a judgement in the context of energy resources.
  • LO5. Demonstrate an ability to argue a position on an energy related matter or topic in a convincing and well researched manner.
  • LO6. Collaborate effectively and collegially with group members to develop an evidence-based policy paper

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.

Changes to the assessments made in response to student feedback.

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.


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