• 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, Interdisciplinary Studies - Sustainability, Resource Management and Environmental Science, Resource and Environmental Management
  • Work Integrated Learning Fieldwork
  • Academic career UGRD
  • Course convener
    • Dr Sara Beavis
    • Dr Sarah Clement
  • Mode of delivery In Person
  • Offered in Spring Session 2024
    See Future Offerings

Intensive course with overseas travel (18-29 Nov 2024). Students must submit EOI. Additional fees revised to $1500

Sustainable Urban Systems aims to provide an in-depth understanding of urbanization and sustainable urban systems to students without a systemic previous exposure to the topic. Urbanization is one of the major social transformations of our time that has profound impacts on people and the planet. Cities play an increasingly critical role in local, regional and global sustainability, presenting enormous challenges but also a window of opportunity to “get it right”. The course will explore key topics such as the trend and impacts of global urbanization, the role of cities in sustainability, theoretical and conceptual understanding of cities as systems, analytical tools in measuring sustainability performance of cities, managing urban environment, and urban sustainability experiments and transition towards sustainability. A systems perspective is a common thread throughout the course. The course is strongly interdisciplinary, drawing on both classic and most recent literature in urban geography, urban ecology, urban environmental management, urban sustainability, systems innovation and transition. The course builds on Human Ecology, where the evolutionary history of human-nature relationships as well as a systems approach towards understanding such relationship is explored. 

This intensive in-country field-based course focuses on Singapore's highly successful urban development and management. Singapore has been identified as the ideal location for this course due to its remarkable achievements in urban planning. The course will cover various areas of interest, including water management, waste management, sustainable energy production, urban farming and food security, bio-conservation, sustainable urban ecosystems and urban mobility. To enhance the learning experience, the course has established partnerships with the National University of Singapore and Singapore National Parks, who will contribute to the in-country learning activities. Throughout the in-country component, students will have the opportunity to observe firsthand how Singapore's urban planning is carefully aligned with the needs of its growing population while maintaining a strong focus on environmental sustainability. This immersive experience will provide valuable insights into the strategies and practices employed to achieve a harmonious balance between urban development and ecological preservation.

Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Demonstrate a basic understanding of the state, drivers and impacts of global urbanization, and the role of cities in global sustainability
  2. Demonstrate a conceptual understanding of various key perspectives towards understanding urban system, from cities as place, as organism and super organism, to cities as human dominant complex systems, as well as associated concepts and analytical tools, including urban metabolism, ecosystem approach in cities, urban-rural gradient, etc. 
  3. Critically evaluate concepts and management strategies relevant to urban sustainability including urban metabolism, cities as ecosystems, and transitional processes towards sustainability.?  
  4. Develop a systemic understanding of cities with reference to the interconnections among different urban structures, functions, agencies, and processes and use this to identify and avoid the siloed approach in their future professional practices. 

Work Integrated Learning


This immersive learning experience involves content delivery and visitation with agency / government staff from both in Singapore and Australia.

Other Information

This intensive course is delivered in-country typically in the Spring Session each year.

  • Travel dates are typically in November. Please see the course message at the top of this page for current year advice. 
  • Enrollment is limited and merit based. Students must register an expression of interest to enrol via the following?website?(please note the closing date published on this website). 
  • There are additional field trip fees of approximately $2000 applicable to participation in this course (payment to?ANU Science Shop). Students will also need to cover the costs of their own airfares, meals and local transportation.

Indicative Assessment

  1. Pre-trip online quiz (20) [LO 1,2]
  2. In-country reflective journal with guided questions (20) [LO 1,2,3,4]
  3. Post-trip essay (40) [LO 1,2,3,4]
  4. Group research project (20) [LO 1,2,3,4]

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.


The expected workload will consist of approximately 130 hours throughout the semester including:

  • 12 hours of lectures and preparatory work on a weekend in September
  • 70 hours over ten day in-country study in Singapore (mid-November)
  • 48 hours of additional self-directed study which will include preparation for presentations and other assessment tasks.

Inherent Requirements

This course is delivered in-country, overseas.

For more information on field trips please visit: https://students.science.anu.edu.au/program-admin/college-science-field-trips

Requisite and Incompatibility

To enrol in this course you must have completed 24 units.

You will need to contact the Fenner School of Environment and Society to request a permission code to enrol in this course.

Prescribed Texts

Not applicable.

Preliminary Reading

To be advised in class.



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

Commonwealth Support (CSP) Students
If you 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). More information about your student contribution amount for each course at Fees

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 units

If you are a domestic graduate coursework student with a Domestic Tuition Fee (DTF) place or international student you will be required to pay course tuition fees (see below). Course tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found 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
2024 $4680
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2024 $6360
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

ANU utilises MyTimetable to enable students to view the timetable for their enrolled courses, browse, then self-allocate to small teaching activities / tutorials so they can better plan their time. Find out more on the Timetable webpage.

The list of offerings for future years is indicative only.
Class summaries, if available, can be accessed by clicking on the View link for the relevant class number.

Spring Session

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
9503 14 Sep 2024 14 Sep 2024 15 Nov 2024 13 Jan 2025 In Person N/A

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