Sustainable Development

Subject GEOG30019 (2014)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2014.

Credit Points: 12.50
Level: 3 (Undergraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject is not offered in 2014.

Time Commitment: Contact Hours: 34: Twenty four hours lectures & ten hours tutorials
Total Time Commitment: Not available

Usually completion of 25 points of first year geography and GEOG20003: Environmental Politics and Management or the approval of the subject coordinator.

Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge: None
Non Allowed Subjects: None
Core Participation Requirements:

For the purposes of considering request for Reasonable Adjustments under the Disability Standards for Education (Cwth 2005), and Students Experiencing Academic Disadvantage Policy, academic requirements for this subject are articulated in the Subject Description, Subject Objectives, Generic Skills and Assessment Requirements of this entry. The University is dedicated to provide support to those with special requirements. Further details on the disability support scheme can be found at the Disability Liaison Unit website:


Melbourne School of Land & Environment Student Centre
Ground Floor, Melbourne School of Land & Environment (building 142)

Phone: 13 MELB (13 6352)

Subject Overview:

The term ‘sustainable development’ is widely recognised, yet there are countless interpretations, each reflecting different understandings, interests, and uses. This subject discusses and interprets key cultural, political, and philosophical interpretations, both in concept and practice.

The subject begins with an analysis of sustainable development, including common criticisms. It is then divided into ‘sustainability’ and ‘development’ frameworks, with the aim of contrasting approaches rooted in ecological or humanistic research. The frameworks enable exploration of multiple topics (i.e. food security, risk, urbanisation, technology/science, water). The subject then returns to the topic and debate over sustainable development, assessing its usefulness and practicality. Finally, the subject will explore a radical critique of existing practices of development, using the debate over sustainable development to explore questions of power, economic exploitation, marginalisation, and inter-generational inequality.

The subject incorporates global, developed, and developing world examples of sustainable development. On completion of this subject students should be able to critically assess the underlying ecological, economic, and social issues associated with different practices of environmental management (i.e. the three pillars of sustainable development). Students will develop a working understanding of the dimensions of sustainability, paying attention to who benefits and who is harmed by the competing uses of ‘sustainable development’ concept and argument.

Learning Outcomes:

On completion of this subject students will:

  • understand and be able to compare a range of theories related to sustainable development;
  • be able to apply numerous methods designed to critically engage with debates over sustainable development;
  • be familiar with different framings of sustainable development;
  • be able to synthesise competing interpretations and debates;
  • be aware of the complex processes and issues that are incorporated into debates and controversies of sustainable development;

  1. Quiz or Application: Each week, there will be either an ‘online quiz’ (10 questions) or ‘application of concept’ (200 words) due the evening prior to lecture (20% of final mark). This will provide students with the opportunity to show their understanding of the weekly readings.
  2. Presentation: Once during the term, each student (in groups if needed) will give a presentation to their tutorial group (20 minutes) on the weekly readings and additional sources that they have found; they will also develop and deliver an activity of their choosing (30 minutes) (20% of final mark). Students will be marked by their tutor (10%) and their peers (10%); the peer marks will be used to monitor tutorial attendance, which is a hurdle requirement (see below).
  3. Essay Outline: Approximately at the mid-term, students will develop an essay outline (450 words) (20% of final mark). In ‘bullet point’, this document will show how students would prepare and plan for an essay; it will show their argument, rationale, and sources.
  4. Take home final exam: One week after the final class, student will submit their final ‘take-home’ essay (1800 words) (40% of final mark). The topic will be provided on the final day of class.

It is a hurdle requirement that students attend 8 out of 10 weeks of tutorials. Attendance will be monitored using student peer-reviews.

Prescribed Texts:


Breadth Options:

This subject potentially can be taken as a breadth subject component for the following courses:

You should visit learn more about breadth subjects and read the breadth requirements for your degree, and should discuss your choice with your student adviser, before deciding on your subjects.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Generic Skills:

Students who have completed this subject will:

  • be capable of thinking critically about issues relating to sustainable development;
  • be capable of developing a conceptual framework appropriate to understanding and interpreting problems relating to sustainability;
  • be able to learn research skills appropriate to understanding and interpreting issues and problems of sustainable development;
  • be able to write coherent and well-researched essays;
  • be capable of engaging in effective oral presentations.

Students enrolled in the BSc (both pre-2008 degree and new degrees), or a combined BSc course (except for the BA/BSc) may receive science credit on the completion of this subject.

Related Course(s): Master of Science (Geography)
Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: Development Studies
Development Studies
Development Studies Major
Environmental Geographies, Politics and Cultures major
Environmental Studies
Environments Discipline subjects
Geography Major
Human Geography
Human Geography
Integrated Geography
Integrated Geography
Science credit subjects* for pre-2008 BSc, BASc and combined degree science courses
Science-credited subjects - new generation B-SCI and B-ENG.
Selective subjects for B-BMED
Related Breadth Track(s): People and Environment

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