Course Title: Parks and Public Land Management

Part A: Course Overview

Course Title: Parks and Public Land Management

Credit Points: 12.00


Course Code




Learning Mode

Teaching Period(s)


City Campus


365H Global, Urban and Social Studies


Sem 1 2008,
Sem 1 2011

Course Coordinator: Dr Benno Engels

Course Coordinator Phone: +(61 3) 9925 3884

Course Coordinator Email:

Course Coordinator Location: Building 8, Level 11

Course Coordinator Availability: By appointment

Pre-requisite Courses and Assumed Knowledge and Capabilities

There are no pre-requisite courses or assumed knowledge and capabilities for this course.

Course Description

The course provides an introduction to the concept and purpose of public reserve lands and to management and planning issues associated with them. It covers urban parks and public open space, as well as national parks and other forms of recreation or nature reserves. The idea of the environmental commons provides an underlying framework for the course as a whole and the wide range of values and stakeholders associated with reserve land are examined in this context. Recent developments such as the involvement of community or non-government organisations, urban development pressures, privatisation and commercialisation, and joint management with traditional owners will be highlighted. The roles of government agencies, park managers, tourism operators and local communities and interest groups are considered in the context of goals and approaches to the management of these areas. You will have opportunities to explore some of the key issues that confront park managers in both the strategic and practical aspects of park management.

Objectives/Learning Outcomes/Capability Development

You will gain a sound understanding of the historical context of parks and public lands in Australia and the types of land tenures they entail. You will gain a broad understanding of key management issues such as fire, water, weeds, and feral animals as well as the multitude of issues associated with tourism and recreational land use. You will gain a sound overview of the role of the reserve system in biodiversity conservation and its relationship with biodiversity initiatives on other forms of land tenure and in the context of broader regional planning processes. You will understand the processes involved in park management planning and be able to evaluate the effectiveness of park management plans for achieving their stated goals. You will be introduced to some of the key tensions faced by contemporary park managers that challenge the original purpose of reserve lands and consider management options for addressing future challenges such as those associated with projections of climate change, population growth and the need to contain and sequester carbon emissions.

Upon successful completion of the course you will be able to:

• identify the range of stakeholders and interest groups associated with national parks, reserve lands and urban open space

• compare and analyse the different kinds of values invested in reserve lands and urban open space

• compare the different forms of land tenure that make up national parks and reserve lands and to identify different management issues associated with different tenures

• locate and analyse information relevant to the management of national parks and urban open space

• identify and analyse key issues affecting contemporary park management

• engage with and contribute to contemporary debates about future challenges for planning and management of national parks, reserve lands and urban open space

• anaylse and describe the application of ecological concepts in land use planning

• relate broader concerns about philosophical approaches and current and future park management issues to the planning processes for specific parks

Overview of Learning Activities

The course has two dimensions. One is based on interrogation of the history and philosophy that informs the underlying purpose of parks and public lands. The other is framed around problem-based learning where you will engage with immediate practical problems faced by park managers on a day-to-day basis. You may be required to undertake field trips and conduct research activities on-site at local parks and reserve lands.

The course readings, lectures and conference presentations will provide you with an information base from which to launch your own critical analysis of a specific issue or problem in the management of parks and reserve lands, which will form your main piece of assessment for the course. Workshop discussions will provide you with opportunities to sound out some of your ideas with your fellow students and tutor.

Overview of Learning Resources

RMIT will provide you with resources and tools for learning in this course through our online systems.

You will be provided with a reading pack with weekly readings and additional materials will be placed on the course website.

Overview of Assessment

You will be assessed on how well you meet the course’s learning outcomes and on your development against the program capabilities.

Assessment may include reports, projects and presentations, individually and in groups. Assessment will cover both theoretical and practical aspects of your learning. You will be able to develop your work in relation to your own specific areas of interest in your professional practice.

Feedback will be given on all assessment tasks.

If you have a long term medical condition and/or disability it may be possible to negotiate to vary aspects of the learning or assessment methods. You can contact the program coordinator or the Disability Liaison Unit if you would like to find out more.

An assessment charter summarises your responsibilities as an RMIT student as well as those of your teachers.

Your course assessment conforms to RMIT assessment principles, regulations, policies, procedures and instructions which are available online: