BEES6601 – An Introduction to the Sydney Environment

BEES6601 – An Introduction to the Sydney Environment provides an introduction to the physical, biological and social environment of Sydney. Topics include the geophysical environment, the Indigenous people of Sydney, the natural and biological hazards of Sydney and the development of Sydney into a global city. The course also consists of a series of workshops which consider the contemporary environmental issues facing Sydney. A series of optional field visit(s) are designed to introduce the diversity of Sydney’s biophysical environment.

The course includes 10 x 1.5 hr lectures, 10 x 1.5 hr workshops and field trip(s) (with self-guided options for people who cannot participate in organised field visits). Assessment includes ‘reflective’ exercises to consider the students’ initial (and changed) perceptions of Sydney. Workshops are issue-based discussions, with student-led presentations and student-directed learning in others.

For more information, see this flyer, or check out the course outline below.

S2 2018, Summer U1B 2019 (intensive course mode), T2C 2019 (intensive course mode).

Study level: Undergraduate and Postgraduate

6 units of credit

Current handbook entry Current timetable 2018 Course Outline

Who should I contact?

Coordinator: A. Prof. Scott Mooney

What does this course cover?

The course aims to familiarise participants with several inter-related components: the physical environment of Sydney, people in Sydney (Indigenous, settler history) and contemporary environmental issues. A recurrent theme will be: How does Sydney compare to the place that you are from?

Major topics include:

  • Welcome to Sydney: The physical, biological and social environment of Sydney;
  • The physical environment: the geology, geomorphology and soils of the Sydney Basin;
  • The Indigenous people of the Sydney Basin;
  • The general climatic characteristics of Sydney;
  • The European history of Sydney;
  • The development of Sydney as a global city. Social aspects of Sydney: e.g. post WWII expansion, immigration and demography;
  • The vegetation of the Sydney Basin: natural and after 200+ years of European settlement;
  • The vertebrate zoology of Sydney: What was the fauna of Sydney like and how is it faring?
  • What happens when a large city is imposed on a biodiverse temperate harbour? The marine biology of Sydney Harbour;
  • Contemporary environmental issues in Sydney.


Where does this course fit into my degree?

This course is specifically designed for incoming Study Abroad or Exchange students although it is also relevant to any student who is new to Sydney, including domestic or international students.

The course is available to both undergraduate and postgraduate coursework students. Although it has no pre-requisites, it is as an upper level course and is not designed for first year students.

This course is also not available to students who are doing Majors in the School of BEES.


Are there any mandatory activities for this course?


One of the assessment tasks in BEES6601 is based on a field visits. There are various ways that this can be completed but most people chose to do a self-directed field trip. These can be done in a few hours, and are designed to showcase the beauty of the city of Sydney and its surrounding bushland.


Is there anything else I should know?


In the Session 2, 2016 UNSW MyExperience survey, 96.6% of respondents agreed with the statement “Overall I was satisfied with the quality of the course”. 100% of the respondents agreed with the statement “I felt part of a learning community”. The most common words in response to the question “What were the best things about this course?” included interesting, engaging, enjoyable and entertaining. In the freeform section to this question, one student wrote:
"I learnt about Sydney. I liked the reflective exercise task. I loved the tutorials, I learnt a lot and I had time to talk in the small group with my classmates and with the professor. He knew my name, he showed interest in knowing what my opinion was in every tutorial and I felt that he cared.” Another student wrote, "This was a fun and engaging course where I really felt like I learned a lot about Sydney and [its] environment. As an exchange student, I think it enriched my experience abroad and taught me things I would have otherwise not known about my host city”.


I hope you might consider adding BEES6601 to your enrolment while at UNSW.



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