The UNSW Environmental Impact Assessment UG (GEOS3911) course and Environmental Impact Assessment PG (GEOS9011) course develop your understanding of how the environment is factored into development decision-making in NSW. While this course focuses on state-specific legislation, the principles learnt are applicable across Australia and more broadly around the globe. In this course, you’ll focus on NSW legislation, briefly touching on the EPBC act at the commonwealth level. Case studies that illustrate the environmental impacts on natural and socio-economic systems will also be examined.

With regular amendments to environmental laws and policies, Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is increasingly important around the world. Throughout the course, you’ll develop an understanding of current approaches and emerging trends. You’ll apply EIA methods to hypothetical case-study developments, such as renewable energy production, state significant infrastructure and mineral extraction. Concepts such as biodiversity offsetting and ecologically sustainable development are explored.

The course is underpinned by an understanding of legislation, policy and the frameworks for assessing impacts and risk. With access to environmental guidelines and procedures, you’ll learn how to advise on the suitability of development proposals and statutory planning schemes.  

Term offering: Term 1

Course attendance: In person


  • Postgraduate.
  • Undergraduate - Third year.


  • Biology.
  • Climate science.
  • Earth science.
  • Ecology.
  • Geography.
  • Marine science.

Course code: GEOS3911 GEOS9011

Course breakdown

This is a Stage 3 course and is taught using presentations from practitioners and practical tutorial classes. Guest lecturers will share recent case laws so that the machinations of EIA are clear to understand.

Upon completion of the course, you’ll be able to do the following:

  • justify the needs for EIA
  • understand what triggers an EIA in NSW and Australia
  • know which laws and their components are appropriate
  • apply ecologically sustainable development principles to EIA
  • critically analyse reports and the EIA system
  • perform the basic components of other related environmental management approaches. Examples include environmental management plans, risk assessments and social impact assessments
  • understand the ethical and professional responsibilities placed upon environmental scientists and decision-makers.

Conditions for enrolment

Although there’s no presumed knowledge or pre-requisites for this course, the following courses have complementary aspects to the curriculum:

Career opportunities

Environmental careers are often multidisciplinary and can integrate into many fields such as physical, biological and information sciences. Professionals not only study the environment and human impact, but they also explore solutions like renewable energy, natural resource management and sustainable development.  This course is highly valuable for students looking for careers in government (local, state or federal), environmental consulting, environmental management,  environmental law or environmental engineering. 

Relevant roles

  • Meteorologist 
  • Geologist 
  • Geophysicist 
  • Hydrologist 
  • Ecologist 
  • Environmental scientist
  • Natural resource manager 
  • Marine scientist 
  • Marine biologist 

Find out more

For more information, please contact Associate Professor Jes Sammut 

E: j.sammut@unsw.edu.au

T: +61 2 9385 8281