Sustainable Landscapes

Subject NRMT90014 (2016)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2016.

Credit Points: 12.5
Level: 9 (Graduate/Postgraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2016:

Semester 1, Parkville - Taught on campus.
Pre-teaching Period Start not applicable
Teaching Period 29-Feb-2016 to 29-May-2016
Assessment Period End 24-Jun-2016
Last date to Self-Enrol 11-Mar-2016
Census Date 31-Mar-2016
Last date to Withdraw without fail 06-May-2016

Timetable can be viewed here. For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Contact Hours: 7 weeks of 2 hour/week lectures during the semester, plus a one hour optional discussion group each of those weeks that will follow the lectures. The field trip is a weekend field school away and leaves Friday at 4pm and returns Sunday approx 4pm. Please note that the website may not show the correct weekend for the field trip as it is decided at the start of each year but the timetable goes in the previous year. Individual tutor meetings throughout the semester by appointment.
Total Time Commitment:

Total Time Commitment:Field trip is not compulsory but includes +16 contact hours with lecturer and additional staff and local experts, and is highly recommended. It is capped at 50 participants. In addition, there is also an optional discussion forum each week at the end of the designated lecture (approx. one hour). It is recommended that students need to do 3 hours of reading for each hour of contact.

Estimated total time commitment = 170 hrs.


Admission into the Graduate Environmental Program (OEP), Masters of Urban Planning, Masters in Urban Horticulture, Masters of Forest and Ecosystem Science or Masters of Geography or into Honours in the Melbourne School of Land & Environment. Students who have already undertaken Building Resilient Communities may wish to discuss taking this subject with 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:


Prof Ruth Beilin


Subject Overview:

This subject will consider the wider landscape issues associated with:

  • rural and urban land use and land use change, clearing, fragmentation and modification of native vegetation, and the influences of these on biodiversity, and ecosystem services and processes;
  • utilisation, degradation and management of rural and urban biophysical resources, especially in regard to the soil and water;
  • climate change and sustainable rural futures;
  • population - the regional, the service town, the rural, urban fringe;
  • agriculture - agro-ecology, trends in modern agricultural production, and the sustainability of production, food sovereignty, post-production landscapes;
  • industrialisation - intensification and pollution;
  • the commons - public and private good;
  • environmental security and institutions;
  • governance - deliberative democracy, empowerment; community based natural resource management; and
  • economics.

These issues will be situated within the systems theory paradigm. Theories of complex adaptive systems, social-ecological systems, uncertainty, complexity, and emergence will frame the investigation of these issues and provide the foundation for a critique of command and control approaches to landscape management. Central to the framework explored in this subject are notions of resilience and community based knowledge systems. Students will engage deeply with the literature that informs these ideas and develop a critical understanding of their value and limitations.

Students will analyse the meaning of landscape through landscape sciences (ecology, resource management, extension, etc) and policy frameworks.

This subject uses a combination of Australian and overseas case studies to provide a framework for student analysis.

  • At the completion of this subject, students should:
  • be able to discuss the implications in landscape changes for urban and rural or regional populations;
  • be able to map agro-ecological and social community interrelations;
  • be familiar with policy and planning tools that influence biodiversity, community and ecological resilience and governance; and
  • be familiar with methodologies and methods to analyse and process issues of uncertainty and risk in landscape decision making and landscape management practice.
Learning Outcomes:

The aim of this unit is to extend the participant’s ability to:

  • Assess and evaluate rural and urban land use and land use change associated with fragmentation and modification of native vegetation, biodiversity issues, ecosystem services and processes.
  • Assess the significance of urban, urban fringe and rural landscapes in terms of their landscape futures, and their impacts on biophysical resources.
  • Describe the principles and practices of socio-ecological systems, complexity, and resilience thinking underpinning ideas about sustainable landscapes; and apply these to critical analysis of socio-ecological system interactions.
  • Describe and evaluate issues of governance, property, ethics and economics as they relate to environmental security, the commons, and sustainable regional futures.
  • Describe and consider indigenous contributions to landscape futures.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the political and social constraints on the intelligent management of the wider landscape, and its interface with the peri-urban.
  • Consider policy and planning issues with regard to the design and management of rural and regional landscapes.
  • Consider how rural and regional social and ecological systems connect to the urban environment (urban cology, community gardens, public open space and urban agriculture).

One Literature Review (2000 words) due approximately in week 5 or 6 (40%)
Revision of the previous literature review applied to a case study (3000 words) due approximately in week 12 (60%).

Prescribed Texts:

Walker, B. and D. Salt 2006. Resilience Thinking: Sustaining Ecosystems and People in a changing World. Island Press: Washington.

Walker, B. and D. Salt, 2012. Resilience Practice: Building Capacity to Absorb Disturbance and M Maintain Maintain Function.

Recommended Texts:

Harris, G. 2007 Sustainability in an age of complexity. Cambridge Press.

Other readings will be provided through LMS.

Breadth Options:

This subject is not available as a breadth subject.

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

Students in this unit should:

  • enhance their discipline skills in the area of landscape policy and planning;
  • further develop their critical thinking through readings, lectures, assessment and group work; and
  • further develop their ability to think through issues of complexity by developing methodological approaches and methods to assist decision processes and practice.
Related Course(s): Master of Urban Horticulture
Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: Bachelor of Environments (Honours) Landscape Management
Climate Change
Climate Change
Conservation and Restoration
Conservation and Restoration
Master of Science (Ecosystem Science) - Discipline Elective subjects
Sustainable Cities, Sustainable Regions
Sustainable Cities, Sustainable Regions
Tailored Specialisation
Tailored Specialisation

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