This unit introduces a new and thoroughgoing approach to sustainability. Real-life examples from science and engineering are used to demonstrate the concept that human actions employing frameworks of thinking and of organising society (i.e. institutions) can lead to a circumspect and responsible approach to life. The institutional bases of our expectations of the world are investigated along with the tools used to respond and act. Specific socio-economic tools such as the Precautionary Principle and Triple Bottom Line accounting are introduced and analysed, highlighting their role as change agents in the process of moving to sustainable institutions.


CVE80010 Principles of Sustainability


250 credit points (for undergraduate students).

Teaching periods
Start and end dates
Last self-enrolment date
Census date
Last withdraw without fail date
Results released date

Learning outcomes

Students who successfully complete this unit will be able to:

  • Nominate key sustainability challenges in terms of environmental, economic and social issues at a global, national and local level
  • Critically analyse (proposed) activities for the knowledge/conceptual/epistemological structures they are embedded in – all the while recognising that the choice of knowledge structures is itself interpretation dependent
  • Propose changes to the way activities are constituted such that they are more clearly sustainable e.g. recognising the perverse incentives (to environmental sustainability) that form the context within which current actions in environment proceed
  • Recognise the “instrumentation of sustainability”, i.e. the measures and indicators by which sustainability is currently defined and acted upon, and how to critically assess it
  • Prepare a situation assessment for sustainability within a given context
  • Evaluate current practices and tools available to “sustainability practitioners” and propose improvements

Teaching methods


Type Hours per week Number of weeks Total (number of hours)
Live Online
2.00 12 weeks 24
Face to Face Contact (Phasing out)
1.00 2 weeks 2
1.00 10 weeks 10
Online Contact (Phasing out)
Online Learning Activities
1.00 12 weeks 12
Unspecified Learning Activities (Phasing out)
Independent Learning
8.50 12 weeks 102


Type Task Weighting ULO's
AssignmentIndividual/Group 60 - 70% 1,2,3,4,5,6 
QuizzesIndividual 20 - 30% 1,2,3,4,5 
Tutorial ExercisesIndividual 5 - 10% 1,2,3,4,5,6 


  • Concept and standards of sustainability
  • Global warming and climate change
  • Sustainable water
  • Water reuse and recycle
  • Sustainable waste
  • Solid waste management
  • Hazardous waste management
  • Sustainable energy
  • Life Cycle Assessment (LCA)
  • Ecological footprint
  • Sustainable transport
  • Sustainable IT
  • Sustainable built environment
  • Sustainable building design and green buildings
  • Indicators of sustainability

Study resources

Reading materials

A list of reading materials and/or required textbooks will be available in the Unit Outline on Canvas.