USQ LogoCourse specification
The current and official versions of the course specifications are available on the web at //
Please consult the web for updates that may occur during the year.

CDS2001 Sustainability Concepts and Issues

Semester 2, 2015 On-campus Springfield
Units : 1
Faculty or Section : Faculty of Health, Engineering and Sciences
School or Department : School of Health and Wellbeing

Contents on this page


Examiner: John Solas
Moderator: Nathan Beel


Pre-requisite or Co-requisite: CMS1000

Other requisites

Students will require access to e-mail and have internet access to UConnect for this course.


Sustainability has become a key consideration in most human activities. Human services professionals and others working in community and social contexts have an increasing need to understand sustainability concepts and the key social, economic and environmental challenges in achieving sustainable communities. This course seeks to provide a broad level of understanding of sustainability in a community context with particular emphasis on regional cities.


The course begins by examining the many conflicting definitions of sustainability, a number of key principles and several alternative models of sustainability. These are placed in the context of the prevailing paradigms of western society and the many problems and challenges of the early twenty-first century, especially as they relate to populations and the carrying capacity of local regions and the planet as a whole. A systems approach to sustainability allows the identification of unsustainable activities and key natural resources, especially land, water and energy. Current environmental, economic and social problems can be examined in this context and solutions, both current and proposed, evaluated as to their long term contribution towards sustainability. The Hervey Bay region will be used as a case study in the context of the "sea change" phenomenon, with consideration of such issues as climate change, housing, transport, water and agriculture. Community involvement in sustainability planning is emphasised in the context of the building of social capital and sustainable community structures and organisations. Some alternative strategies for regional community and economic development will be examined including eco-villages.


On completion of this course students will be able to:

  1. compare and contrast various definitions of sustainability;
  2. identify key sustainability principles and indicators;
  3. demonstrate academic and professional literacy skills by critically analysing
    sustainability issues in the context of a systems model of sustainability;
  4. demonstrate cultural literacy skills through an awareness of current local and global sustainability problems, the actions being taken to alleviate them and the likely effectiveness of these solutions;
  5. demonstrate an understanding of the social and economic context of sustainability issues and the importance of community involvement in policy development and planning;
  6. demonstrate an understanding of alternative community responses to achieving
    sustainability, including local trading schemes and eco-villages;
  7. demonstrate oral and written communication skills through the preparation of
    written essay, critique and case study and participation in discussions;
  8. demonstrate ethical research and enquiry through research and by adhering to the
    norms of academic integrity.


Description Weighting(%)
1. Sustainability definitions and system models; 20.00
2. Historical context: resource usage and population growth in industrialised western society; 10.00
3. Current local and global ecological and sustainability issues and responses; 30.00
4. Social and economic contexts of sustainability; 20.00
5. Alternative strategies and prospects. 20.00

Text and materials required to be purchased or accessed

ALL textbooks and materials available to be purchased can be sourced from USQ's Online Bookshop (unless otherwise stated). (

Please contact us for alternative purchase options from USQ Bookshop. (

  • Lowe, I 2009, A big fix: radical solutions for Australia's environment crisis, Black Inc, Melbourne.
  • Study Package, Course CDS2001 Sustainability issues in community development, USQ Distance and e-Learning Centre, Toowoomba, Qld.

Reference materials

Reference materials are materials that, if accessed by students, may improve their knowledge and understanding of the material in the course and enrich their learning experience.
  • Edwards, Andres R 2005, The sustainability revolution: portrait of a paradigm shift, New Society Publishers, Gabriola Island, BC.
  • Goldie, J, Douglas, B & Furness, B (eds) 2005, In search of sustainability, CSIRO Publishing, Collingwood, Vic.
  • Heinberg, R 2005, The party's over: oil, war and the fate of industrial societies, 2nd edn, New Society Publishers, Gabroila Island, BC.
  • James, S, Torbjorn L 2004, The natural step for communities: how cities and towns can change to sustainable practices, New Society Publishers, Gabriola Island, BC.
  • Meadows, DH, Randers J & Meadows, DL 2004, Limits to growth: the 30 year update, Earthscan, London.

Student workload requirements

Activity Hours
Lectures 36.00
Private Study 129.00

Assessment details

Description Marks out of Wtg (%) Due Date Notes
CMA TEST 1 10 5 24 Aug 2015
ESSAY 100 25 14 Sep 2015
REPORT 100 50 26 Oct 2015
CLASS CONTRIBUTION 100 15 30 Oct 2015
CMA TEST 2 10 5 30 Oct 2015

Important assessment information

  1. Attendance requirements:
    It is the students' responsibility to attend and participate appropriately in all activities (such as lectures, tutorials, laboratories and practical work) scheduled for them, and to study all material provided to them or required to be accessed by them to maximise their chance of meeting the objectives of the course and to be informed of course-related activities and administration. Students must attend and complete the requirements of the Workplace Health and Safety training program for this course where required.

  2. Requirements for students to complete each assessment item satisfactorily:
    To satisfactorily complete an individual assessment item a student must achieve at least 50% of the marks.

  3. Penalties for late submission of required work:
    Students should refer to the Assessment Procedure (point 4.2.4)

  4. Requirements for student to be awarded a passing grade in the course:
    To be assured of receiving a passing grade a student must achieve at least 50% of the total weighted marks available for the course.

  5. Method used to combine assessment results to attain final grade:
    The final grades for students will be assigned on the basis of the aggregate of the weighted marks obtained for each of the summative assessment items in the course.

  6. Examination information:
    There is no examination in this course.

  7. Examination period when Deferred/Supplementary examinations will be held:
    As there are no examinations in this course, there will be no deferred or supplementary examinations.

  8. University Student Policies:
    Students should read the USQ policies: Definitions, Assessment and Student Academic Misconduct to avoid actions which might contravene University policies and practices. These policies can be found at

Assessment notes

  1. The due date for an assignment is the date by which a student must despatch the assignment to the USQ. The onus is on the student to provide proof of the despatch date, if requested by the Examiner.

  2. Students must retain a copy of each item submitted for assessment. This must be despatched to USQ within 24 hours if required by the Examiner.

  3. In accordance with University Policy, the Examiner may grant an extension of the due date of an assignment in extenuating circumstances.

  4. If electronic submission of assessments is specified for the course, students will be notified of this in the course Introductory Book and on the USQ Study Desk. All required electronic submission must be made through the Assignment Drop Box located on the USQ Study Desk for the course, unless directed otherwise by the examiner of the course. The due date for an electronically submitted assessment is the date by which a student must electronically submit the assignment. The assignment files must be submitted by 11.55pm on the due date using USQ time (as displayed on the clock on the course home page; that is, Australian Eastern Standard Time).

  5. If the method of assessment submission is by written, typed or printed paper-based media students should (i) submit to the Faculty Office for students enrolled in the course in the on-campus mode, or (ii) mail to the USQ for students enrolled in the course in the external mode. The due date for the assessment is the date by which a student must (i) submit the assessment for students enrolled in the on-campus mode, or (ii) mail the assessment for students enrolled in the external mode.

  6. The Faculty will NOT normally accept submission of assessments by facsimile or email.

  7. Students who do not have regular access to postal services for the submission of paper-based assessments, or regular access to Internet services for electronic submission, or are otherwise disadvantaged by these regulations may be given special consideration. They should contact the examiner of the course to negotiate such special arrangements prior to the submission date.

  8. Students who have undertaken all of the required assessments in a course but who have failed to meet some of the specified objectives of a course within the normally prescribed time may be awarded one of the temporary grades: IM (Incomplete - Make up), IS (Incomplete - Supplementary Examination) or ISM (Incomplete -Supplementary Examination and Make up). A temporary grade will only be awarded when, in the opinion of the examiner, a student will be able to achieve the remaining objectives of the course after a period of non directed personal study.

  9. Students who, for medical, family/personal, or employment-related reasons, are unable to complete an assignment or to sit for an examination at the scheduled time may apply to defer an assessment in a course. Such a request must be accompanied by appropriate supporting documentation. One of the following temporary grades may be awarded IDS (Incomplete - Deferred Examination; IDM (Incomplete Deferred Make-up); IDB (Incomplete - Both Deferred Examination and Deferred Make-up).

  10. Students may be assigned an "Incomplete" grade to signify that all the requirements of the course have not yet been met. Students who are graded "I" can pass the course by successfully completing such additional work as prescribed by the examiner by a given date. Students who have been awarded an IM, ISM, IDM or IDB grade must access information regarding further work to be completed, in the Student Centre of U Connect. The Grades Page in the Student Centre contains information about further work to be completed. Students who have not completed the additional work to the satisfaction of the examiner by the given date will receive the appropriate Failing grade.

Other requirements

  1. Students can expect that questions in assessment items in this course may draw upon knowledge and skills that they can reasonably be expected to have acquired before enrolling in the course. This includes knowledge contained in pre-requisite courses and appropriate communication, information literacy, analytical, critical thinking, problem solving or numeracy skills. Students who do not possess such knowledge and skills should not expect to achieve the same grades as those students who do possess them.