Course Title: The Economic, Social and Environmental Context for Sustainable Energy

Part A: Course Overview

Course Title: The Economic, Social and Environmental Context for Sustainable Energy

Credit Points: 12.00


Course Code




Learning Mode

Teaching Period(s)


City Campus


115H Aerospace, Mechanical & Manufacturing Engineering


Sem 1 2006,
Sem 1 2007,
Sem 1 2008,
Sem 1 2009,
Sem 2 2009,
Sem 1 2010,
Sem 2 2010,
Sem 1 2011,
Sem 2 2011,
Sem 1 2012,
Sem 2 2012,
Sem 1 2013,
Sem 2 2013,
Sem 1 2014,
Sem 2 2014,
Sem 1 2015,
Sem 2 2015,
Sem 1 2016,
Sem 2 2016


City Campus


172H School of Engineering


Sem 1 2017,
Sem 2 2017,
Sem 1 2018,
Sem 2 2018,
Sem 1 2019,
Sem 1 2020,
Sem 1 2022,
Sem 1 2023,
Sem 1 2024


City Campus


172H School of Engineering


Sem 1 2021

Course Coordinator: Professor John Andrews

Course Coordinator Phone: +61 3 9925 6085

Course Coordinator Email:

Course Coordinator Location: 251.3.6

Pre-requisite Courses and Assumed Knowledge and Capabilities


Course Description

This course provides an introduction to the Master of Engineering (Sustainable Energy) program by familiarising you with the economic, social and environmental context that has led to the rapidly growing interest in sustainable energy, and within which decisions on the design and deployment of the associated technologies will be made. ’Sustainable energy’ is taken to mean improving the efficiency of energy usage and reducing greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels, and using renewable energy sources such as solar radiation, wind energy and biomass. You will be given an opportunity to reflect upon, debate and apply this definition in a number of different areas. You will analyse the drivers for the transition to sustainable energy. You will examine the institutional framework that shapes how energy is supplied and used, including institutional barriers to sustainable energy, and will analyse attempts to transform the institutional framework to increase the usage of sustainable energy.

Objectives/Learning Outcomes/Capability Development

This course contributes to the development of the following program learning outcomes:1. Needs, Context and Systems

  • Describe, investigate and analyse complex engineering systems and associated issues (using systems thinking and modelling techniques)
  • Exposit legal, social, economic, ethical and environmental interests, values, requirements and expectations of key stakeholders
  • Identify and assess risks (including OH&S) as well as the economic, social and environmental impacts of engineering activities

2. Problem solving and Design

  • Anticipate the consequences of intended action or inaction and understand how the consequences are managed collectively by your organisation, project or team

4. Professional Practice

  • Communicate in a variety of different ways including accurate listening, reading and comprehension, based on dialogue when appropriate, taking into account the knowledge, expectations, requirements, interests, terminology and language of the intended audience
  • Display a personal sense of responsibility for your work

On successful completion of this course you should be able to:

  1. Analyse the main economic, environmental and social drivers for a transition to sustainable energy sources
  2. Exposit the main features of the policy, regulatory, ethical values, and legal environments in Australia and overseas that are directly relevant to sustainable energy development and utilisation
  3. Put into perspective your own views on the links between personal values and global sustainability values, with particular emphasis on sustainable energy
  4. Apply ethical foundations of sustainability and sustainable energy
  5. Relate the principles, norms, and constraints of contemporary engineering practice to your work in the area of sustainable energy  
  6. Analyse whether a particular energy option is ‘sustainable’ or not
  7. Write an analytical piece on sustainable energy
  8. Give presentations on sustainable energy ideas

Overview of Learning Activities

Learning activities for this course include:

  • Attending the lectures and seminars
  • Giving seminars
  • Participating in the class and online discussions on the set of readings
  • Reading and critically analysing key literature and other resources
  • Presenting projects to the class
  • Providing constructive feedback on others’ work 

Overview of Learning Resources

A list of key references and sources will be provided online, through the MyRMIT Blackboard as required during the course. Presenters will suggest further works and sources for following up on the topics they cover. Where possible, Powerpoint presentations will be made available via the MyRMIT Blackboard. 

Overview of Assessment

X This course has no hurdle requirements.

☐ All hurdle requirements for this course are indicated clearly in the assessment regime that follows, against the relevant assessment task(s) and all have been approved by the College Deputy Pro Vice-Chancellor (Learning & Teaching).

Assessment tasks

Assessment task 1:  Tutorial presentation to class on readings
Weighting 10%
This assessment task supports CLOs 1, 2 & 3

Assessment task 2:  Weekly discussion board entries
Weighting 20%
This assessment task supports CLOs 1, 2 & 3 

Assessment task 3: Class presentation on major project
Weighting 15%
This assessment task supports CLOs 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 & 8

Assessment task 4: Two-page proposal for individual major project
Weighting 10%
This assessment task supports Course Learning Outcomes (CLOs) 1,3 & 5 

Assessment task 5: Reflective piece
Weighting 5%
This assessment task supports CLOs 3,4 & 5 

Assessment task 6: Major project report
Weighting 40%
This assessment task supports CLOs 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7