One of the primary ways of alerting the public to danger is the use of safety signage. At the coast, there are many signs relating to hazards such as dangerous waves, dangerous currents, dangerous marine life and lots of other dangerous things. But do they work? Do people notice signs? Do they read them? Most importantly – do they understand them? There are many issues involved in the design of safety signage, the messages and text used, and the use, or lack of, visual imagery, not to mention issues with language. Very few studies have examined the effectiveness of coastal hazard signage yet we continue to rely on signage on keeping people safe. This project will involve fieldwork monitoring engagement with coastal hazard signage and interviews of coastal users regarding their interpretations of signs. Funding is provided to support the project.


The aim of this study is to evaluate the effectiveness of existing coastal hazard safety signage to find out which types of signs are the most and least effective in terms of public engagement and understanding. 

Student benefits

Students will work with the UNSW Beach Safety Research Group and organisations such as Surf Life Saving Australia and the National Parks and Wildlife Service.

You’ll gain the following skills:

  • data collection and analysis
  • scientific writing
  • science communication
  • presenting

The outcomes of this project will have significant practical outcomes for many organisations responsible for the safety of coastal visitors. It is intended that this project will lead to a publication in a scientific journal.

Supervisors work closely with honours students and are interested in honours projects. Students will get plenty of guidance, although they won’t be spoon-fed. Prof. Brander has a very good track record of supervising students to first-class honours results.

Get involved

To learn more about this project, contact Prof. Rob Brander.

T: +61 2 9385 2899