Course Outline

SUS101 Foundations of Sustainability

Course Coordinator:Theresa Ashford ( School:School of Law and Society

2022Semester 1

USC Sunshine Coast

USC Moreton Bay

Blended learning Most of your course is on campus but you may be able to do some components of this course online.


Online You can do this course without coming onto campus.

Please go to the USC website for up to date information on the
teaching sessions and campuses where this course is usually offered.

What is this course about?


What is sustainability? Short answer - changing the world for the better.  This course provides you with foundational knowledge of sustainability concepts and issues. It uses an interdisciplinary approach to ensure you are equipped with a comprehensive understanding of the phenomena and practices that have shaped the planet and the lives of all living things. You will explore ethics, philosophy, complex systems thinking and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

How will this course be delivered?

Activity Hours Beginning Week Frequency
Blended learning
Learning materials – Weekly asynchronous online learning materials 1hr Week 1 13 times
Tutorial/Workshop 1 – On campus Tutorial 2 hours 2hrs Week 1 11 times
Learning materials – Weekly asynchronous online learning materials 1hr Week 1 13 times
Tutorial/Workshop 1 – Synchronous tutorial 2hrs Week 1 11 times

Course Topics

Sustainability overview, trends and actors

Ethics, Values and Happiness

Sustainability thinking tools and models 

Sustainability applications: conservation and tourism

Measuring and communicating sustainability

SDGs in depth project work


What level is this course?

100 Level (Introductory)

Engaging with discipline knowledge and skills at foundational level, broad application of knowledge and skills in familiar contexts and with support. Limited or no prerequisites. Normally, associated with the first full-time study year of an undergraduate program.

What is the unit value of this course?

12 units

How does this course contribute to my learning?

Course Learning Outcomes On successful completion of this course, you should be able to... Graduate Qualities Completing these tasks successfully will contribute to you becoming...
1 Identify and describe sustainability concepts, models and approaches Knowledgeable
2 Describe and evaluate the concept of ethical responsibility towards present and future generations. Ethical
3 Investigate and evaluate complex interactions between economic, social, cultural and environmental dimensions of sustainability Sustainability-focussed
4 Apply analytical and synthetic thinking to a sustainability problem in your chosen discipline Creative and critical thinker
5 Research and communicate information to expert and non expert audiences. Engaged

Am I eligible to enrol in this course?

Refer to the USC Glossary of terms for definitions of “pre-requisites, co-requisites and anti-requisites”.


Not applicable


Not applicable


Not applicable

Specific assumed prior knowledge and skills (where applicable)

Not applicable

How am I going to be assessed?

Grading Scale

Standard Grading (GRD)

High Distinction (HD), Distinction (DN), Credit (CR), Pass (PS), Fail (FL).

Details of early feedback on progress

Early feedback is given through embedded module learning quizzes on course readings.
Also practice reflective writing and peer feedback will occur during tutorial time. 

Assessment tasks

Delivery mode Task No. Assessment Product Individual or Group Weighting % What is the duration / length? When should I submit? Where should I submit it?
All 1 Examination - not Centrally Scheduled Individual 25%
1 hour
Week 4 Online Test (Quiz)
All 2 Written Piece Individual 45%
1500 words
Week 11 Online Assignment Submission with plagiarism check
All 3 Report Individual or Group 30%
1000 words equivalent

References, images, titles and tables are not included in the word count.
Exam Period Online Assignment Submission with plagiarism check
All - Assessment Task 1:Sustainability Concepts and Approaches
This exam will review key concepts and ideas presented in the lecture, weekly readings and the tutorials
Product: Examination - not Centrally Scheduled
50 randomised Multiple Choice Questions
No. Learning Outcome assessed
Identification of sustainability concepts, models and approaches
All - Assessment Task 2:Demonstrating sustainability phronesis
This task is designed to capture your understanding of the course materials as a form of 'practical wisdom' (phronesis) to be applied in your future life and career. This wisdom is informed by the knowledge of ethics, science and social sciences and understandings of conventions, agreements, goals and protocols helping to frame a sustainable future.
Product: Written Piece
Academic format with references (APA or Harvard)

The specific format will be left open to ensure you can use a communication mode that best works with your style and discipline area. 

See Canvas Task 2 assessment folder for more information
No. Learning Outcome assessed
Description of course sustainability issues/concepts, models and approaches
Identify and evaluate sustainability themes and perspectives that link to your future career and life practice.
All - Assessment Task 3:SDG Report
You will examine a contemporary sustainability issue within the SDG framework. You will use an ethical lens to explore and uncover the human behaviors and choices that are implicated in the Goal, Target and Indicator.
Product: Report
You may work individually or in a group of up to three. You will have up to 1000 per person. You are encouraged to use diverse data sets to produce a convincing and engaging report.

Please see the Canvas course site for details.
No. Learning Outcome assessed
Description of sustainability issue linked to the SDG
Evaluation of the behaviors, values and ethics of the issue
Evaluation of the complex interactions between economic, social, cultural and environmental dimensions

Directed study hours

A 12-unit course will have total of 150 learning hours which will include directed study hours (including online if required), self-directed learning and completion of assessable tasks. Directed study hours may vary by location. Student workload is calculated at 12.5 learning hours per one unit.

What resources do I need to undertake this course?

Please note: Course information, including specific information of recommended readings, learning activities, resources, weekly readings, etc. are available on the course Canvas site– Please log in as soon as possible.

Prescribed text(s) or course reader

There are no required/recommended resources for this course.

Specific requirements


How are risks managed in this course?

Health and safety risks for this course have been assessed as low. It is your responsibility to review course material, search online, discuss with lecturers and peers and understand the health and safety risks associated with your specific course of study and to familiarise yourself with the University’s general health and safety principles by reviewing the online induction training for students, and following the instructions of the University staff.

What administrative information is relevant to this course?

Assessment: Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is the ethical standard of university participation.  It ensures that students graduate as a result of proving they are competent in their discipline.  This is integral in maintaining the value of academic qualifications. Each industry has expectations and standards of the skills and knowledge within that discipline and these are reflected in assessment.

Academic integrity means that you do not engage in any activity that is considered to be academic fraud; including plagiarism, collusion or outsourcing any part of any assessment item to any other person.  You are expected to be honest and ethical by completing all work yourself and indicating in your work which ideas and information were developed by you and which were taken from others. You cannot provide your assessment work to others. You are also expected to provide evidence of wide and critical reading, usually by using appropriate academic references.

In order to minimise incidents of academic fraud, this course may require that some of its assessment tasks, when submitted to Canvas, are electronically checked through Turnitin.  This software allows for text comparisons to be made between your submitted assessment item and all other work to which Turnitin has access.

Assessment: Additional Requirements

Your eligibility for supplementary assessment in a course is dependent of the following conditions applying:

The final mark is in the percentage range 47% to 49.4%
The course is graded using the Standard Grading scale
You have not failed an assessment task in the course due to academic misconduct.

Assessment: Submission penalties

Late submission of assessment tasks may be penalised at the following maximum rate: 
- 5% (of the assessment task's identified value) per day for the first two days from the date identified as the due date for the assessment task. 
- 10% (of the assessment task's identified value) for the third day - 20% (of the assessment task's identified value) for the fourth day and subsequent days up to and including seven days from the date identified as the due date for the assessment task. 
- A result of zero is awarded for an assessment task submitted after seven days from the date identified as the due date for the assessment task. Weekdays and weekends are included in the calculation of days late. To request an extension you must contact your course coordinator to negotiate an outcome.


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Study help

For help with course-specific advice, for example what information to include in your assessment, you should first contact your tutor, then your course coordinator, if needed.

If you require additional assistance, the Learning Advisers are trained professionals who are ready to help you develop a wide range of academic skills. Visit the Learning Advisers web page for more information, or contact Student Central for further assistance: +61 7 5430 2890 or

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To book a confidential appointment go to Student Hub, email or call 07 5430 2890.

Links to relevant University policy and procedures

For more information on Academic Learning & Teaching categories including:

  • Assessment: Courses and Coursework Programs
  • Review of Assessment and Final Grades
  • Supplementary Assessment
  • Administration of Central Examinations
  • Deferred Examinations
  • Student Academic Misconduct
  • Students with a Disability

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General Enquiries

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