• 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, Human Sciences
  • Academic career PGRD
  • Course convener
    • DisP Xuemei Bai
  • Mode of delivery In Person
  • Offered in Second Semester 2024
    See Future Offerings

Sustainable Urban Systems aims to provide up-to-date and research-led courses to master students who are interested in urban sustainability. 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". Future leaders and urban practitioners will benefit from this course by learning leading-edge research to understand the opportunities and challenges in our "urban century."

The course will invite leading experts and urban practitioners to share their ongoing research and best showcases and engage students in the discussion of a range of cutting-edge topics on urban sustainability transition locally and internationally. You will be inspired to creatively apply this knowledge to your concerned issues, including future research direction, policy development, and urban management.

The course is strongly interdisciplinary, and the theme topics include but are not limited to urban environmental governance, urban sustainability, systems innovation and transition, urban health, global frontrunner cities in urban low-carbon transition, nature-based solutions, urban energy policies, and urban metabolism.

Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Identify and illustrate the state, drivers and impacts of global urbanization, and the role of cities in global sustainability
  2. Integrate and apply the multiple conceptual perspectives of urban systems.
  3. Demonstrate an understanding of the challenges and opportunities in managing and governing real world cities, and develop capacity to identify and enable innovative and successful practices in cities.
  4. Discuss and demonstrate sustainability solutions of cities, using appropriate associated concepts.
  5. Interpret the implications of current research and communicate the insights to stakeholders.

Indicative Assessment

  1. Group discussion and presentation (20) [LO 1,5]
  2. Discussion paper (20) [LO 1,2]
  3. Research paper (50) [LO 1,2,3,4,5]
  4. Research paper seminar (10) [LO 1,2,3]

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:

  • Face-to face component which may consist of 1 x 3 hour workshop per week
  • Approximately 94 hours of self directed study which will include preparation for lectures, presentations and other assessment tasks.

Students are expected to actively participate and contribute towards discussions.

Inherent Requirements

No specific inherent requirements have been identified for this course

Requisite and Incompatibility

Incompatible with ENVS2012 and ENVS6005

Prescribed Texts

Not applicable.

Preliminary Reading

There will be weekly readings. In addition, the following books are recommended, both for better understanding course contents and good examples for potential student project topics.

  • Elmqvist, T., X. Bai, N. Frantzeskaki, C. Griffith, D. Maddox, T. McPhearson, S. Parnell, P. Romero-Lankao, and D. Simon, M. Watkins (eds). 2018. Urban Planet: Knowledge towards sustainable cities. Cambridge University Press. Open access www.cambridge.org/9781107196933.
  • Boyden, S., Millar, S., Newcombe, K. and O'Neill, B., 1981. Ecology of a city and its people: The case of Hong Kong. Australian National University.
  • Tim Beatley Green Urbanism: Learning from European cities. Island Press 2000.
  • Pelling, M., 2012. The vulnerability of cities: natural disasters and social resilience. Routledge.)


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.

Second Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
9083 22 Jul 2024 29 Jul 2024 31 Aug 2024 25 Oct 2024 In Person N/A

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