Last Updated S012019


Unit Name Technology, Sustainability and Society
Unit Code BSC305C
Unit Duration 1 Year

Bachelor of Science (Engineering)

Duration 3 years    

Year Level Three
Unit Creator / Reviewer Dr Harisinh Parmar / Dr. Milind Siddhpura
Core/Elective: Core
Pre/Co-requisites Nil
Credit Points


Total Course Credit Points 81 (27 x 3)

Mode of Delivery Online or on-campus. 
Unit Workload (Total student workload including “contact hours” = 10 hours per week; 5 hours per week for 24 week delivery)
Pre-recordings / Lecture – 1.5 hours
Tutorial – 1.5 hours
Guided labs / Group work / Assessments – 2 hours
Personal Study recommended – 5 hours

Unit Description and General Aims

The objective in presenting this unit is to provide students with an in-depth knowledge of the concepts associated with sustainability, and the need for sustainability in engineering in different societal contexts, in order to incorporate these in real world problems and projects.

The subject matter covered in this unit will include: a detailed account of key sustainability concepts and issues related to energy, water, food, and environment; the importance of energy analysis in relation to energy conservation and the key role played by technological innovations in sustainability; renewable energy technology concepts; and, the social and other challenges that often accompany the implementation of sustainable developments.

Students will be also be guided into comprehending that professional engineers are increasingly required to play a leadership role in sustainable development, overcoming global challenges such as resource depletion, environmental pollution, population growth and damage to ecosystems, and be empowered by this knowledge to make sustainable development a key component of their work.

At the conclusion of this unit, students will comprehend that sustainability is reliant upon recycling, generating more resources, and reducing the pressures of consumption on those resources from population growth and affluence. There is also a project component in this unit whereby students will undertake a case study on the societal consequences of a specific technological innovation in regard to globalization and climate change.

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this Unit, students are expected to be able to:

  1. Explain key sustainability concepts related to energy, water, food, environment, ecosystem and biodiversity.
    Bloom's Level 2
  2. Apply a range of tools that offer systems thinking perspectives (eg Mass Flow analysis, foot-printing, SLCA, SWOT, EIOLCA, LCA, MIPS).
    Bloom's Level 3
  3. Evaluate the use of energy and calculate energy savings.
    Bloom's Level 5
  4. Demonstrate skills in the design and installation of renewable energy applications.
    Bloom's Level 6
  5. Perform engineering calculations of power and energy availability of renewable energy sources.
    Bloom's Level 3
  6. Apply the concepts of sustainable and appropriate technology.
    Bloom's Level 3
  7. Outline measures that lead to building a sustainable society, present and future.
    Bloom's Level 2

Student assessment

Assessment Type When assessed Weighting (% of total unit marks) Learning Outcomes Assessed

Assessment 1

Type: Multi-choice test / Group work / Short answer questions / Role Play / Self-Assessment / Presentation / Case study

Example Topic: Sustainability requirements, energy, water, food and environment issues.

Students may complete a quiz with MCQ type answers and solve some simple equations to demonstrate a good understanding of the fundamental concepts.

After Topic 3 15% 1

Assessment 2 - mid-semester test

Type: Group work / Short answer questions / Role Play / Self-Assessment / Presentation / Case study / Project

Example Topic: Ecology and sustainability frameworks, life cycle assessment, energy use analysis.

Students may be asked to provide solutions to simple problems on various topics.

After Topic 5 20% 2, 3

Assessment 3

Type: Multi-choice test / Group work / Short answer questions / Practical / Remote lab / Virtual lab software simulation / Case study / Project

Example Topic: Renewable energy technology, technological systems, and innovations.

Students may complete a quiz with MCQ type answers or solve some simple problems or use software to complete a practical.

After Topic 8 20% 4, 5, 6

Assessment 4

Type: Project / Case Study or Examination

Example Topic: Societal consequences of specific technological developments.

Students will undertake a case study on the societal consequences of a specific technological innovation in regard to globalization and climate change.

Final Week 40% 1 to 7

Attendance / Tutorial Participation

Example: Presentation, discussion, group work, exercises, self-assessment/reflection, case study analysis, application.

Continuous 5% 1 to 7

Prescribed and Recommended Readings

Suggested Textbook

Dorf, RC 2001, Technology, Humans and Society: Toward a Sustainable World, Academic Press, ISBN-13: 978-0122210907

Reference Materials

• Bell, S 2011, Engineers, Society and Sustainability, Morgan & Claypool Publishers, ISBN 978-1-608457892

• Larson, A, 2011, Sustainability, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship, Open Textbook Library, ISBN 13: 978-1-453314128
• Theis, T, Tomkin, F (ed.) 2010, Sustainability: A Comprehensive Foundation, Open Textbook Library.
• Peer-reviewed journals
• Knovel library:
• IDC Technologies publications
• Other material and online collections as advised during the lectures

Journal, website

A number of peer-reviewed journals and websites (advised during lectures)

Unit Content


Topic 1


1. Sustainability and its importance, purposes, challenges, and requirements
2. Limits to exponential growth on a finite planet
3. Envisioning and implementation of a sustainable society
4. Dynamic aspects of sustainability
5. The three pillars of sustainability
6. Sustainability and business
7. Sustainability as an integrating concept

Topic 2

Primary Sustainability Issues

1. Energy – world energy usage, impacts of material production, problems with current waste management, reducing the impact of material used
2. Water – water resource and use world-wise, problems associated with current water systems, sustainable water management
3. Food – world food production, energy and environmental impacts, alternatives (local/organic)
4. Shelter - current building styles and problems, sustainable architecture
5. Sustainability and the natural environment – climate change, energy, water, biodiversity and land use, chemicals, toxins and heavy metals, air pollution, waste management, ozone depletion, oceans and fisheries, deforestation

Topic 3

Key Sustainability Concepts

1. Importance of Ecosystems
2. Biodiversity as nature’s risk management tool
3. Ecological crises – population, water, soil, deforestation, bio-diversity, climate change, ecological foot-print and variations
4. Environment and limits to growth
5. Industrial ecology and sustainability frameworks – mass flow analysis, foot-printing, SLCA, SWOT, EIOLCA, LCA, MIPS
6. Life cycle assessment

Topic 4

Energy use analysis

1. Principles of analysing energy use
2. Energy auditing tools and techniques
3. Energy conservation techniques
4. Determining energy savings

Topic 5

Renewable Energy Technology

1. Introduction to alternate energy systems
2. Renewable energy production – hydroelectric, wind power, passive and active solar energy, tidal energy
3. Appropriate building techniques
4. Impact on humans and their environment
5. Perform engineering calculations of power and energy availability of renewable energy sources
6. Green Building Design and Concepts

Topics 6 and 7

Sustainability and Technology

1. Technological systems and innovation
2. Social goals
3. Benefits of technology
4. Technology and social progress
5. Technology – positive and negative outcomes
6. Limits to technological solutions
7. Hybrid engineering
8. Sustainable engineering
9. Emerging technological innovations
10. New technology and innovative sustainability approaches - sustainable transportation, innovations in water systems, green building design and concepts


Topic 8

The path toward a sustainably built environment

1. Designing and operating green workplaces and buildings
2. Protecting the environment through energy efficiency and renewable energy
3. Providing green infrastructure: water, energy, and transportation
4. Planning and building sustainable cities


Topic 9

Sustainability Management

1. Air pollution effects, measurement and control
2. Energy, materials, production, water
3. Recycling and reusing
4. Resource and waste management
5. Economics of sustainability

Topic 10

Sustainability and Society

1. Inequality and poverty
2. Societal consequences of technological developments
3. Sustainability, society and social change
4. Links between globalization, climate change, poverty and engineering
5. Suggested solutions

Topic 11

Sustainable Development and Social Challenges

1. Economic, environmental, and social trends
2. Global inequities in all dimensions of sustainability
3. The three pillars of sustainable development
4. Key features and principles of sustainable development
5. Globalization, population growth, energy use, and sustainable development
6. Health and sustainability

Topic 12

Unit Review

In the final week students will have an opportunity to review the contents covered so far. Opportunity will be provided for a review of student work and to clarify any outstanding issues. Instructors/facilitators may choose to cover a specialized topic if applicable to that cohort.

Software/Hardware Used


  • Software: N/A

  • Version: N/A

  • Instructions:  N/A

  • Additional resources or files: N/A


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