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Specialisation: Environment and Sustainability

Award(s) to which this specialisation belongs:

Environment and Sustainability


Department of Geography and Planning
Faculty of Arts

Admission Requirements:
Admission to Master of Development Studies
Study Mode:
Full-time, Part-time
Attendance Mode:
North Ryde — Session 1 (February)
North Ryde — Session 2 (July)

This specialisation must be completed as part of an award. The general requirements for the award must be satisfied in order to graduate.

Requirements for the Specialisation:

Completion of a minimum of 28 credit points including the following prescribed units:

Credit points

800 level

Climate Change: Policies, Management and Adaptation (4)
Attitudes to the Environment (4)
Globalisation and Sustainable Development (4)
16cp from
Research Methods in Anthropology (4)
Indigenous Interests and Identities (4)
Research Project: Thesis (8)
Environmental Health (4)
Sustainable Development: Introductory Principles and Practices (4)
Social Impact Assessment and Cross Cultural Negotiation (4)
Heritage and its Management (4)
Urban Social Impact Assessment (4)
Special Topic in Geography and Planning B (8)
Sustainable Urban Regions (4)
Environment and Development (4)
Environmental Decision Making (4)
Environmental Impact Assessment (4)
Trade and Environment Law (4)
International Environmental Law (4)


Overview and Aims of the Program The Master of Development Studies and Global Health (MDSGH) program offers foundational classes in development, research methodology, medical anthropology, applied anthropology and human geography. Students complete a comprehensive coursework program and have the option to engage in an applied, research driven project. Currently two specialisations (28 cp) are on offer in Development Studies or Global Health. This proposal concerns the offer of a third specialisation in Environment and Sustainability as such all other details concerning the program, including approach, admissions and RPL remain unchanged.

The MDSGH provides students with a unique opportunity to gain valuable skills and training in the fields of development or global health. Committed to research and teaching at the intersections of anthropology, development studies, human geography, and global health, our goal is to train and equip scholars and practitioners with the knowledge and innovative skills needed to address development and health related issues in our globalized world.

Students choose a specialisation in Development Studies, Global Health or Environment and Sustainability, complete a comprehensive coursework program, and have the option to engage in an applied, research driven project. The program enables students to gain valuable analytic abilities and hands-on experience in ethnographic or social impact assessment methodologies, increasingly sought after skills in global health, environment and development careers within government, NGOs, the private sector, research, and multilateral organizations.

The MDSGH is designed for students coming from a variety of academic and professional backgrounds. Students with a bachelors degree in the social sciences, or a related field with some social science background or relevant work experience, would be successful in immersing themselves within our cross-disciplinary dialogue, practice-based learning, and application of theory to development and health challenges. Some students with an existing postgraduate degree or those with three or more years relevant work experience are eligible for recognition of prior learning (RPL) and our shortened one-year masters program.

The Environment and Sustainability specialisation will address the intersection of environment and development issues at local, national, regional and global scales focusing in particular on the equity, justice and sustainability dimensions of development. Central to the specialisation is an appreciation of how the environment is valued, perceived and used in different ways by different societies and cultures generating both problems and opportunities for sustainable development.

This Environment and Sustainability specialisation will enable students to gain a better understanding of the actors, structures and processes that contribute to uneven environmental outcomes in different development contexts. The diverse theories, concepts, and methods used to understand and address these environmental and developmental outcomes will be explored. The specialisation offers students an interesting combination of units that allow them to have the opportunity to study topics such as climate change adaptation, climate change mitigation and low-carbon transitions, environmental decision making, urban planning, environment and social impact assessment methodologies, vulnerability assessment and disaster risk reduction, community resource management, and indigenous resource management.

The coherence of the program relies on the strong cross-disciplinary foundations of both Anthropology and Human Geography, which produce a clear focus on the cultural and geographical dimensions of environment and development. The Environment and Sustainability specialisation, as with the other two specialisations, offers students the opportunity to develop more specialised knowledge through electives and individual research.
Graduate Capabilities

The Graduate Capabilities Framework articulates the fundamentals that underpin all of Macquarie’s academic programs. It expresses these as follows:

Cognitive capabilities
(K) discipline specific knowledge and skills
(T) critical, analytical and integrative thinking
(P) problem solving and research capability
(I) creative and innovative

Interpersonal or social capabilities
(C) effective communication
(E) engaged and ethical local and global citizens
(A) socially and environmentally active and responsible

Personal capabilities
(J) capable of professional and personal judgement and initiative
(L) commitment to continuous learning

Program Learning Outcomes In addition to the overall Master of Global Health and Development Studies learning outcomes, students in the Environment and Sustainability specialisation will:

1. Examine historical and contemporary approaches to the environment within development, including the origins and rise of the concept of sustainable development.

2. Identify how the environment is perceived, valued, used and theorised in different ways in development.

3. Describe some of the key environmental challenges in development and evaluate the implications for the environment of different development approaches, actors and processes at local, national, regional and global scales.

4. Examine how development policy, global institutions, international and grass-roots non-governmental organizations, and major funders in development have addressed environmental problems and opportunities.

5. Critically and reflexively appraise the debates informing different approaches to the environment in development and their outcomes in terms of equity, poverty, justice and sustainability.

6. Recognize the critical issue of globalization for the environment by linking method and theory with detailed case material and thematic studies that emerge from field research.

7. Design and implement a research project that addresses an aspect of environment and development, including the formulation of research questions, selection of methods, a synthesis of existing research, the analysis of data or findings, and the presentation of findings and their implications.
Learning and Teaching Methods As per the MDSGH program there will be a mix of learning and teaching methods offered across the units within this specialisation, including lectures, seminars, tutorials, workshops, group discussions, small group work, online activities and fieldwork. Students will undertake a supervised research-based project where they design and conduct their own independent project, practice their newly acquired skills and put theory into action.
Assessment As per the MDSGH there will be a mix of assessments undertaken within the units within this specialisation both individual and group work. Assessment modes, including individual written assignments, exams, oral presentations, quizzes, group work, and online presentations.
Recognition of Prior Learning

Macquarie University may recognise prior formal, informal and non-formal learning for the purpose of granting credit towards, or admission into, a program. The recognition of these forms of learning is enabled by the University’s Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) Policy (see and its associated Procedures and Guidelines. The RPL pages contain information on how to apply, links to registers, and the approval processes for recognising prior learning for entry or credit. 

Domestic Students
For undergraduate RPL information visit
For domestic postgraduate RPL information visit

International Students
For RPL information visit

Support for Learning

Macquarie University aspires to be an inclusive and supportive community of learners where all students are given the opportunity to meet their academic and personal goals. The University offers a comprehensive range of free and accessible student support services which include academic advice, counselling and psychological services, advocacy services and welfare advice, careers and employment, disability services and academic skills workshops amongst others. There is also a bulk billing medical service located on campus.

Further information can be found at

Campus Wellbeing contact details:
Phone: +61 2 9850 7497

Program Standards and Quality

The program is subject to an ongoing comprehensive process of quality review in accordance with a pre-determined schedule that complies with the Higher Education Standards Framework. The review is overseen by Macquarie University's peak academic governance body, the Academic Senate and takes into account feedback received from students, staff and external stakeholders.

Graduate Destinations and Employability Graduates of the MDSGH program are qualified to work in government, non-governmental, humanitarian, disaster relief and multilateral aid organizations or with other groups concerned with human rights, indigenous issues, migration and women’s development programs, for example. Graduates are qualified to provide analysis and recommendations regarding community and development projects, feasibility studies, reviews, evaluations and social impact studies for development projects both in Australia and abroad. They are also qualified to participate directly in field research, development, humanitarian and human rights field projects. Program graduates might serve as in-country field consultants and work with immigrant or refugee assistance organizations and lending agencies that do work in developing countries. Some development specialists work as private consultants to Aboriginal Land Councils and contribute to policy development and shaping interventions. They are also qualified to work in specialist teaching, social work and welfare professions. Global health specialists can find employment in many of the above areas as well as health research, policy, medical services, maternal and child health services, public nutrition and food security programs, research and evaluation. The demand for qualified individuals is increasing and new programs and initiatives are constantly being created through various organizations, ranging from HIV/AIDS and EBOLA prevention to programs addressing violence against women.

In addition to that outlined above for the MDSGH, the Environment and Sustainability specialisation will provide training for graduates and professionals who seek to develop their knowledge and expertise in order to work in a wide range of fields related to environment and development. This encompasses environmental programs and negotiations, international aid, community development (local and international), humanitarian aid, climate change adaptation, and change management in cross-cultural settings.
Assessment Regulations

This program is subject to Macquarie University regulations, including but not limited to those specified in the Assessment Policy, Academic Honesty Policy, the Final Examination Policy and relevant University Rules. For all approved University policies, procedures, guidelines and schedules visit

Inherent requirements are the essential components of a course or program necessary for a student to successfully achieve the core learning outcomes of a course or program. Students must meet the inherent requirements to complete their Macquarie University course or program.

Inherent requirements for Macquarie University programs fall under the following categories:

Physical: The physical inherent requirement is to have the physical capabilities to safely and effectively perform the activities necessary to undertake the learning activities and achieve the learning outcomes of an award.

Cognition: The inherent requirement for cognition is possessing the intellectual, conceptual, integrative and quantitative capabilities to undertake the learning activities and achieve the learning outcomes of an award.

Communication: The inherent requirement for communication is the capacity to communicate information, thoughts and ideas through a variety of mediums and with a range of audiences.

Behavioural: The behavioural inherent requirement is the capacity to sustain appropriate behaviour over the duration of units of study to engage in activities necessary to undertake the learning activities and achieve the learning outcomes of an award.

For more information see

2018 Unit Information

When offered:
S1 Day
Permission of Executive Dean of Faculty
HSC Chinese, CHN113, CHN148