University of Sydney Handbooks - 2018 Archive

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Environmental Studies

Study in the discipline of Environmental Studies is offered by the School of Geosciences in the Faculty of Science. Units of study in this major are available at standard and advanced level.

About the major

Environmental Studies is the examination of the social, economic and regulatory contexts that surround the management and monitoring of environmental and ecosystem health. Environmental Studies incorporates the study of both social and bio-physical phenomena within their regulatory and policy frameworks, and is therefore inherently multi-disciplinary. It provides students with an understanding of the governance frames in which their professional careers in the environment sector will operate. It encapsulates the fundamental aspects of sustainability, environmental assessment, law, ethics, development, energy use, economics and politics. Consequently, the ENVI units are complementary to studies in the physical and natural science disciplines as well as social science disciplines.

Requirements for completion

A major in Environmental Studies requires 48 credit points, consisting of:

(i) 6 credit points of 1000-level earth and life sciences units
(ii) 6 credit points of 1000-level selective units
(iii) 6 credit points of 2000-level core units
(iv) 6 credit points of 2000-level selective units
(v) 12 credit points of 3000-level core units
(vi) 6 credit points of 3000-level selective units
(vii) 6 credit points of 3000-level urban and South-East Asian context units

A minor in Environmental Studies is available and articulates to this major.

Pathway through the major

The requirements for a major in Environmental Studies are spread out over three years of the degree (possibly four years if students are completing a combined Bachelor of Advanced Studies degree).

A sample pathway for the Environmental Studies major (over three years of a degree) is listed below.

Sample pathway: Environmental Studies major (48 credit points)



Units of study


Semester 1

Selective: 1000-level units listed for major

Semester 2

Selective: 1000-level units listed for major


Semester 1

Selective: 2000-level units listed for major

Semester 2

Core: GEOS2921 Environmental and Resource Management


Semester 1

Core: ENVI3911 Environmental Law and Ethics
Selective: 3000-level Urban and South-East Asian context units

Semester 2

Core: ENVI3912 Environmental Assessment
Selective: 3000-level units listed for major

Please Note. This sample progression is meant as an example only. Depending on unit prerequisites, students may be able to complete these units in a different sequence from that displayed in the table above.

For details of the core and selective units of study required for the major or minor please refer to the Environmental Studies section of the unit of study table, Table S, in this handbook.

Fourth year

The fourth year is only offered within the combined Bachelor of Science/Bachelor of Advanced Studies course.

Advanced coursework
The Bachelor of Advanced Studies advanced coursework option consists of 48 credit points, which must include a minimum of 24 credit points in a single subject area at 4000 level, including a project unit of study worth at least 12 credit points. Space is provided for 12 credit points towards the second major (if not already completed). 24 credit points of advanced study will be included in the table for 2020.

Requirements for Honours in the area of Environmental Studies: completion of 36 credit points of project work and 12 credit points of coursework.

Honours units of study will be available in 2020.

Contact and further information


T +61 2 9351 4796

School of Geosciences
Room 348, Madsen Building F09
University of Sydney NSW 2006

Dr Jeff Neilson
T +61 2 9351 4733
Learning Outcomes

Students who graduate from Environmental Studies will be able to:

  1. Understand fundamental concepts and methods in natural and social sciences and their application to environmental issues
  2. Understand contemporary Australian regulatory and policy frameworks with respect to the natural environment and natural resources;
  3. Integrate and apply perspectives on complex environmental issues from the natural sciences, social sciences and humanities
  4. Appreciate the ethical and broader contextual nature of environmental issues
  5. Demonstrate proficiency in analytical methods and critical thinking, written and oral communication skills needed to conduct high-level work as an interdisciplinary scholar and/or professional.