GEOS3911 - Environmental Impact Assessment

EIA is increasingly important to environmental decision making across the world. Although this course focuses on Commonwealth and NSW legislation, the principles of EIA in Australia are relevant to other countries. However, the course goes well beyond EIA-related legislation and examines universally adopted procedures to assess risk, evaluate and predict environmental impacts and monitor and manage impacts that may arise from development.  These skills are fundamental to most students who enroll in this course.

Session 1

Study level: Undergraduate

6 units of credit

Hours per week:  2 hours lectures per week + fortnightly 2 hour tutorials from week 4 onward.

Number of weeks: 12.

GEOS3911 Current handbook entry

GEOS3911 Current timetable

Course outline

Who should I contact?

Coordinator: Damon Bolton

What does this course cover?

At the completion of this course, students should be able to:

  • Justify the need for EIA;
  • Understand what triggers an EIA in NSW and Australia;
  • Know which laws and their components are appropriate;
  • Apply ecologically sustainable development principles to EIA;
  • Critically analyse EIS reports and the EIA system;
  • Perform the basic components of other related environmental management approaches (e.g. environmental management plans, risk assessments, social impact assessments, statement of environmental effects); and
  • Understand the ethical and professional responsibilities placed upon environmental scientists and decision makers.

Where does this course fit into my degree?

This is a Stage 3 course with a broad range of relevant study streams, including engineering, environmental management, ecology, education and law. This course is highly valuable for students looking for careers in government (local, state or federal), environmental consulting, environmental management, environmental law or environmental engineering. 

Consistent feedback from past students has been that this course was the most vocationally relevant undergraduate course they took at UNSW. Past students report that this course added considerable weight to their job application and they have gone onto participate in the EIA process either by developing or reviewing EIS documents, managing or coordinating public participation, representing or working with stakeholders, or conducting research that eventually improves our understanding of environmental impacts.

Is there assumed prior knowledge or a co-requisite?

There is no presumed knowledge or prerequisites for this course, just an interest in how the environment is factored into the development decision-making process.

Are there mandatory activities for this course?

There are 5 tutorial classes throughout the session that are not recorded and significantly contribute to the learning goals of this course. However, an 80% attendance is required to pass the course.

Is there anything else I should know?

We teach this course using presentations from practitioners, case studies and practical tutorial classes because we expect our graduates will engage with environmental assessment as professionals in future years.


NB: All information provided on this page is superseded by information provided by the course coordinator or lecturer(s).