• Offered by Fenner School of Environment and Society
  • ANU College ANU Joint Colleges of Science
  • Course subject Environmental Science
  • Areas of interest Forestry, Geography, Human Ecology, Interdisciplinary Studies - Sustainability
  • Academic career UGRD
  • Course convener
    • AsPr Lorrae Van Kerkhoff
    • Dr Bruce Doran
  • Mode of delivery In Person
  • Co-taught Course
  • Offered in Second Semester 2021
    See Future Offerings

This course uses three case studies to develop a multi-faceted, research-based understanding of complex environmental problems that graduating students can apply in future research or work environments. The course emphasises integrative, engaged, and research-based approaches to complexity. The first two cases present complex local and national issues in collaboration with key stakeholders. Students engage with these issues by drawing on a range of theoretical concepts and practical tools. The learning from these cases is then applied to a 'do-it-yourself'' case study selected by students and conducted as a group project, again in collaboration with local stakeholders. The focus throughout is on case studies as vehicles for learning and reflection, as well as a testing ground for tools, techniques and approaches discussed in the course.     

Honours Pathway Option 

Subject to the approval of the course convenor; students taking this option will be expected to complete alternative weekly readings and to be prepared to discuss this advanced material in workshops and incorporate it into their major assignment/s. 

Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Understand the methodological and practical challenges posed by complex environmental problems.
  2. Characterise and effectively describe the complex nature of environmental problems.
  3. Apply problem solving skills in environmental studies and environmental science, including problem framing, synthesis and critical reflection.
  4. Create innovative, collaborative research-based responses to complex environmental problems.
  5. Understand and apply effective stakeholder engagement practices.
  6. Understand and apply the case study approach to participate effectively in integrative, team-based research projects.

Other Information

If you do not meet the requisites for this course, it may be possible to receive a permission code. If you are prompted for a permission code on ISIS, please request one online via the following form

Indicative Assessment

  1. Learning portfolio including a group work product and individual reflection (15) [LO 1,2]
  2. Learning portfolio including an individual research essay and short individual reflection (35) [LO 2,3,4,5]
  3. Final case study learning portfolio, including compulsory stakeholder deliverable, in-class group work products, and individual reflections (50) [LO 1,3,4,5,6]

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 2 x 1 hour lectures plus 1 x 2 hour workshop per week.
  • Approximately 82 hours of self-study which will include preparation for lectures, presentations and other assessment tasks.

Students are expected to actively participate and contribute towards discussions.

Inherent Requirements

To be determined.

Requisite and Incompatibility

To enrol in this course you must have completed 72 units towards a degree. You are not able to enrol in this course if you have completed ENVS3024 or ENVS3036 or ENVS6025.

Prescribed Texts

Preliminary Reading:

van Kerkhoff L. 2013 Developing integrative research for sustainability science through a complexity principles-based approach. Sustainability Science. 8 (online first, 19 Feb 2013).

Freeman Herreid C. 1997 What is a case? Bringing to Science education the established teaching tool of Law and Medicine. Journal of College Science Teaching, 27(2). 


Assumed Knowledge

Completion of 72 units towards a degree.



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:
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
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

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
6423 26 Jul 2021 02 Aug 2021 31 Aug 2021 29 Oct 2021 In Person N/A

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