• Offered by Fenner School of Environment and Society
  • ANU College ANU Joint Colleges of Science
  • Course subject Environmental Science
  • Areas of interest Geography, Human Ecology, Resource Management and Environmental Science, Environmental Science , Sustainability Science
  • Academic career Undergraduate
  • Course convener
    • Dr Robert Dyball
  • Mode of delivery Online or In Person
  • Co-taught Course ENVS6223
  • Offered in Second Semester 2017
    See Future Offerings

The sustainability of human food systems is examined in this course from a complex systems perspective, focusing on agricultural systems in Australia and internationally at local, national and global scales. Historical, social and political perspectives on farming systems and soil management techniques in agriculture form part of an interdisciplinary approach to food sustainability that brings together the socio-political reality of agricultural management and development with the ecological functioning of healthy landscapes. You will explore topics including rural livelihoods, sustainability, food security, adaptation, conservation agriculture, ecological processes involving soils, crop plants and livestock, and the design and implementation of improved farming systems.  A range of land management issues are addressed, including soil conservation, restoration and rehabilitation; alternative farming and grazing systems; and sustainable intensification strategies. Production issues are integrated into the broader social, cultural and economic contexts of family farming and agri-business, consumer demand and marketing, international trade and rural policy.  Examples are drawn from Australia and a range of other countries that may include Indonesia, the Philippines, Syria, Vietnam, Sri Lanka and India.

The course includes field visits to farm and food industry enterprises designed to provide first-hand experience and application of your learning; attendance on field trips is a course requirement.
In the second half of the course you will choose one of two concurrent workshop streams, focusing either on socio-cultural or on biophysical aspects of sustainable agricultural systems. These streams lead respectively to human ecology and environmental studies, or to natural resource management and environmental science.  Both streams have practical components that develop skills and reinforce understanding, and a systems framework ensures that links are drawn between the two streams.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

1. Understand the application of key concepts in human ecology and natural resource management to agricultural farming systems, and communicate these to a range of audiences in effective written and oral form.
2. Understand key agricultural systems concepts and perspectives at regional, national and global scales.
3. Demonstrate the knowledge of complex agricultural systems using a range of frameworks and tools.
4. Collect, analyse, interpret and present land and soil resource data (including remotely sensed data and published literature) from a range of scales in the landscape to produce land use and land management suitability scenarios.
5. Describe constraints and opportunities for future sustainable agricultural systems.

Indicative Assessment

Presentation 15% (LO 1-3,5)
Mid-course quiz 20% (LO 1-3,5)
Field visit report, 1500 words 25% (LO 1-3,5)
Major field research report, 3000 words 40% (LO 1-5)

The ANU uses Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. While the use of Turnitin is not mandatory, the ANU highly recommends Turnitin is used by both teaching staff and students. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website.


A total of 130 hours, including 60 contact hours comprising lectures, practicals, workshops and field visits, plus up to 70 hours of self study.
Lectures: 24 x 1 hour
Field visits: 2 x 10 contact hours
Workshops and Practicals: 21 contact hours

Requisite and Incompatibility

Completion of 48 units towards a degree. Incompatibility: ENVS6223, ENVS2022

Prescribed Texts

Dyball, R and Newell, B (2015) Understanding Human Ecology. Routledge
McKenzie, N et al. (2004) Australian Soils and Landscapes. CSIRO Publishing

Indicative Reading List

Charman, PV and Murphy, BW (eds) (2000) Soils: Their Properties & Management (2nd edition), Oxford University Press, Melbourne
Jordan, CF (1998) Working with Nature, Harwood Academic Publishers

Assumed Knowledge

ENVS2011 Human Ecology and/or ENVS2018 Environmental Science Field School are strongly recommended.




Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.  

If you are a domestic graduate coursework or international student you will be required to pay tuition fees. Tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.

Student Contribution Band:
Band 2
Unit value:
6 units

If you are an undergraduate student and have been offered a Commonwealth supported place, your fees are set by the Australian Government for each course. At ANU 1 EFTSL is 48 units (normally 8 x 6-unit courses). You can find your student contribution amount for each course at Fees.  Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.

6.00 0.12500
Domestic fee paying students
Year Fee
2017 $3444
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2017 $4590
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings and Dates

The list of offerings for future years is indicative only

Second Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery
9098 24 Jul 2017 31 Jul 2017 31 Aug 2017 27 Oct 2017 In Person

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