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REN8101 Environment, Society and Sustainability

Semester 1, 2021 Online
Short Description: Environment, Society & Sustain
Units : 1
Faculty or Section : Faculty of Health, Engineering and Sciences
School or Department : School of Sciences
Student contribution band : Band 2
ASCED code : 050999 - Environmental Studies not else
Grading basis : Graded
Version produced : 14 April 2021


Examiner: Andy Le Brocque

Other requisites

Students who have enrolled in or completed REN1201 Environmental Studies cannot enrol in this course.


As the effects of population pressure, unsustainable resource use and pollution, increasingly influence natural systems, global social and economic stability and quality of life, an understanding of environmental issues is essential. This course aims to develop informed and positive attitudes toward environmental issues, an understanding of the causes and symptoms of environmental degradation and biodiversity loss, and of corrective actions and the policies which support them.


This course provides a general introduction and overview of the emergence of environmental issues at the global scale and covers such topics as the physical environment, biological diversity, and human impact on the natural environment. Issues examined from a global perspective include food and fibre resources, water resources, energy production and use, mining, fishing and forestry, atmospheric pollution, climate change, urbanisation and waste management. The principles of sustainability are introduced and possible future management of resources and the environment are discussed.


On completion of this course students will be able to:

  1. describe ecological theories central to global and regional environmental problems;
  2. analyse the human species evolution, population growth and contemporary demographics in the context of environmental impacts and biodiversity loss;
  3. critically review human interactions with the environment and the concept of the ecological footprint;
  4. assess human impacts in the context of: land and water resources; energy and minerals; urbanisation and wastes; and atmosphere and pollution;
  5. integrate the social, political, and economic aspects and biophysical aspects of the environment to contribute to a more sustainable future.


Description Weighting(%)
1. The Global Crises 15.00
2. Global Issues in the Environment 40.00
3. Society & Environment 15.00
4. Sustaining the Future 30.00

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. (

Miller, G.T. & Spoolman, S.E (2019), Living in the Environment, 20th edn, Cengage Learning Inc, Boston, MA, USA.

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.
Botkin D. & Keller E 2014, Environmental Science: Earth as a Living Planet, 9th edn, John Wiley and Sons, Inc, New York.
Cunningham W & Cunningham, MA 2017, Environmental Science: a Global Concern, 14th edn, McGraw Hill, New York.
Elliott, L 2004, The Global Politics of the Environment, 2nd edn, Palgrave MacMillan, Basingstoke, Hampshire.
McConnell R. & Abel D 2008, Environmental Issues: an Introduction to Sustainability, 3rd edn, Pearson - Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, New Jersey.
Wright R. & Nebel B 2017, Environmental Science: Toward a Sustainable Future, 13th edn, Pearson - Prentice Hall.
Zehnder, C, et al., 2018, Introduction to Environmental Science, 2nd edn, Georgia College and State University, Open Textbook Library: University of Minnesota.

Student workload expectations

Activity Hours
Assignments 50.00
Examinations 2.00
Online Lectures 26.00
Online Tutorials 26.00
Private Study 63.00

Assessment details

Description Marks out of Wtg (%) Due Date Objectives Assessed Notes
ASSIGNMENT 1 (Review) 60 20 15 Mar 2021 1,3,4 (see note 1)
ASSIGNMENT 2 (Essay) 60 40 26 Apr 2021 1,4,5 (see note 2)
OPEN EXAMINATION - ONLINE 120 40 End S1 1,2,3,4,5 (see note 3)

  1. Assignments must be submitted via the online submission system on the course studydesk
  2. Refer to Notes for 'Assignment 1' for details
  3. This will be an online exam. Students will be provided further instruction regarding the exam by their course examiner via StudyDesk. The examination date will be available via UConnect when the Alternate Assessment Schedule has been released.

Important assessment information

  1. Attendance requirements:
    There are no on-campus attendance requirements for this course. However, students are encouraged to participate in online tutorials during the semester. It is also the students' responsibility 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.

  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 or a grade of at least C. (Depending upon the requirements in Statement 4 below, students may not have to satisfactorily complete each assessment item to receive a passing grade in this course.)

  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:
    Due to COVID-19 the requirements for S1 2021 are:
    To be assured of receiving a passing grade a student must achieve at least 50% of the total weighted marks available for the course.

    Requirements after S1 2021:
    To be assured of receiving a passing grade a student must obtain at least 50% of the total weighted marks available for the course (i.e. the Primary Hurdle), and have satisfied the Secondary Hurdle (Supervised), i.e. the end of semester examination by achieving at least 40% of the weighted marks available for that assessment item.

    Supplementary assessment may be offered where a student has undertaken all of the required summative assessment items and has passed the Primary Hurdle but failed to satisfy the Secondary Hurdle (Supervised), or has satisfied the Secondary Hurdle (Supervised) but failed to achieve a passing Final Grade by 5% or less of the total weighted Marks.

    To be awarded a passing grade for a supplementary assessment item (if applicable), a student must achieve at least 50% of the available marks for the supplementary assessment item as per the Assessment Procedure (point 4.4.2).

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

  6. Examination information:
    Due to COVID-19 the requirements for S1 2021 are:
    An Open Examination is one in which candidates may have access to any printed or written material and a calculator during the examination.

    Requirements after S1 2021:
    Candidates are allowed access only to specific materials during a Restricted Examination. The only materials that candidates may use in the restricted examination for this course are: writing materials (non-electronic and free from material which could give the student an unfair advantage in the examination). Students whose first language is not English, may, take an appropriate unmarked non-electronic translation dictionary (but not technical dictionary) into the examination. Dictionaries with any handwritten notes will not be permitted. Translation dictionaries will be subject to perusal and may be removed from the candidate's possession until appropriate disciplinary action is completed if found to contain material that could give the candidate an unfair advantage.

  7. Examination period when Deferred/Supplementary examinations will be held:
    Normally Deferred and Supplementary Examinations are held in the next Examination period. In S1 2021 selected courses will pilot an early Deferred and Supplementary Examination period held within 30 business days of results release. The list of courses involved can be found at

  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 USQ via electronic assignment submission on the course website. The onus is on the student to provide proof of the despatch date, if requested by the Examiner. Students must retain a copy of each item submitted for assessment. This must be produced within five days if required by the Examiner. In the event that a due date for an assignment falls on a local public holiday in their area, such as a Show holiday, the due date for the assignment will be the next day. Students are to note on the assignment cover the date of the public holiday for the Examiner's convenience.

  2. 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.

  3. Students must use the assignment format indicated on the course StudyDesk for written assignments.

  4. In accordance with Faculty of Health, Engineering and Sciences and USQ regulations, applications for extensions to assignment due dates must be made in writing to the Examiner before the assignment due date. Applications for extensions must be accompanied by appropriate documentary evidence.

  5. Harvard (AGPS) is the referencing system required in this course. Students should use Harvard (AGPS) style in their assignments to format details of the information sources they have cited in their work. The Harvard (AGPS) style to be used is defined by the USQ Library's referencing guide.

Date printed 14 April 2021