Media footage from the dramatic East Coast Low storm in June 2016 showed many distraught homeowners blaming Councils for the storm wave damage to their houses. But who is to blame? Is it the Council or those who choose to live near the coast?

Significant scientific efforts are being made to measure and understand the physical response of coastlines to coastal storms and potential inundation from sea level rise. However, much less scientific attention has addressed the understanding and perceptions of the general public towards these hazards and the various approaches available to mitigate them. Understanding what homeowners, businesses or organisations under threat or at risk know about these problems is crucial for future planning and for sustaining community resiliency.

The project: ‘Community Understanding of Coastal Storms and Sea Level Rise’ will involve designing and implementing a survey questionnaire that will target populations at risk of coastal erosion and inundation. The survey will be disseminated both online and in hardcopy form. Interviews may also be conducted. Several sites along the NSW coast, including some in Sydney, will be the target of the study.


You’ll gather and/or analyse novel data to establish an evidence-based understanding of the perception of coastal communities to coastal erosion and inundation that can be communicated to local government councils.

This information does not exist at present and will help identify critical knowledge gaps. Your findings also have the potential to be used in the development of future educational material for the general public.

Student Benefits

You’ll have the chance to tackle a problem of growing importance that will be of interest to local coastal governments and coastal professionals throughout Australia. The experience of working with a real-world problem is extremely valuable when it comes to getting future jobs in the coastal sector.

You’ll gain skills in the following areas:

  • Data analysis
  • Writing
  • Science communication
  • Presenting

You’ll also get to work within a team of postgraduate students who are studying similar topics that you can bounce ideas off. You’ll be strongly encouraged to publish your honours work in an international journal, which will help enormously if you choose to apply for a scholarship to undertake postgraduate studies.

Supervisors work closely with honours students and are interested in honours’ projects. Students will get plenty of guidance, although they won’t be spoon-fed. Prof. Brander has a very good track record of supervising students to first-class honours results.