Studying online

There are now 2 possible online modes for units:

Units with modes Online timetabled and Online flexible are available for any student to self-enrol and study online.

Click on an offering mode for more details.

Unit Overview


Decision making for managing environmental systems is increasingly guided by modelling studies in which risks to environmental condition are quantified and future scenarios are assessed. Students are introduced step-by-step to model building of environmental systems drawn from examples such as climate change and land-use change impacts on biodiversity, water and contaminant movement in natural and disturbed landscapes, rivers and also coastal systems. The unit covers issues including the use of models in decision support frameworks, uncertainty and model assessment methods.

6 points
(see Timetable)
Semester 2UWA (Perth)Face to face
Semester 2AlbanyFace to face
Details for undergraduate courses
  • Level 3 core unit in the Environmental Science; Integrated Earth and Marine Sciences; Environmental Science and Management; Marine Science; Environmental Management; Marine and Coastal Processes; Environmental Science and Ecology; Geographical and Spatial Science major sequences
  • Level 3 elective

Students are able to (1) demonstrate a good knowledge of systems analysis, its terminology, core concepts and its use in environmental science; (2) develop an overview of model approaches and the utility of different types of models for understanding environmental systems; (3) develop conceptual models describing interactions and processes relevant to environmental systems, ranging from catchment to coast and considering both physical and ecological dimensions; (4) translate conceptual models into simple quantitative compartment models and demonstrate use of more advanced modelling packages; and (5) assess how models can be used as decision support tools for environmental management, and understand the basic principles of model sensitivity and uncertainty assessment.


Indicative assessments in this unit are as follows: (1) modelling workbook (40 per cent); (2) online theory quiz (20 per cent); and (3) written report (40 per cent). Further information is available in the unit outline.

Student may be offered supplementary assessment in this unit if they meet the eligibility criteria.

Unit Coordinator(s)
Dr Matthew Hipsey
Unit rules
Successful completion of
one Unit(s) ENVT2250 Ecology
or Unit(s) ENVT2220 The Climate System
or Unit(s) ENVT2251 Hydrology and Water Resource Management
or Unit(s) SCIE2204 Marine Systems
or Unit(s) EART2204 Coastal Processes
or Unit(s) SCIE2267 Quantitative Methods in Environmental Management
Contact hours
lectures: 2 hours per week
labs and computer labs: 3 hours per week

Wainright, J. and Mulligan, M. Environmental Modelling: Finding Simplicity in Complexity, 2nd edn: Wiley Publishers 2013

  • The availability of units in Semester 1, 2, etc. was correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change.
  • All students are responsible for identifying when they need assistance to improve their academic learning, research, English language and numeracy skills; seeking out the services and resources available to help them; and applying what they learn. Students are encouraged to register for free online support through GETSmart; to help themselves to the extensive range of resources on UWA's STUDYSmarter website; and to participate in WRITESmart and (ma+hs)Smart drop-ins and workshops.
  • Unit readings, including any essential textbooks, are listed in the unit outline for each unit, one week prior the commencement of study. The unit outline will be available via the LMS and the UWA Handbook one week prior the commencement of study. Reading lists and essential textbooks are subject to change each semester. Information on essential textbooks will also be made available on the Essential Textbooks. This website is updated regularly in the lead up to semester so content may change. It is recommended that students purchase essential textbooks for convenience due to the frequency with which they will be required during the unit. A limited number of textbooks will be made available from the Library in print and will also be made available online wherever possible. Essential textbooks can be purchased from the commercial vendors to secure the best deal. The Student Guild can provide assistance on where to purchase books if required. Books can be purchased second hand at the Guild Secondhand bookshop (second floor, Guild Village), which is located on campus.
  • Contact hours provide an indication of the type and extent of in-class activities this unit may contain. The total amount of student work (including contact hours, assessment time, and self-study) will approximate 150 hours per 6 credit points.