ECU Web Unit Outline
Full Unit Outline - Enrolment Approved Wednesday, 23 June 2004
This unit outline may be updated and amended immediately prior to semester. To ensure you have the correct outline, please check it again at the beginning of semester.
UNIT TITLE Sustainable Energy Use


This unit considers the central role of energy in our modern technological society. It examines some of the major controversies concerning the choice of different energy technologies and their social, political and technical contexts. Scenarios for future sustainable energy use are explored. This unit also provides opportunities for students to increase their level of scientific literacy concerning energy use.


On completion of this unit students should be able to:

  1. describe the major types of energy resources utilised by human societies and evaluate their benefits and costs;
  2. analyse the relationships between the control, distribution and costs of energy resources and the structure of urban societies;
  3. use appropriate data to estimate the efficiency of energy collection and consumption;
  4. select information sources and apply scientific methodology to implement an energy research project.
  5. discuss scenarios for future sustainable energy use.
  1. Basic energy concepts, forms of energy, thermodynamic laws. Units of measurement - scientific/industrial, efficiency of energy transformation.
  2. Earth's energy budget, historical and current patterns of human energy utilisations, human energy requirements, major energy sources.
  3. Energy resources, reserves, and energy needs; fossil fuel extraction and use in power generation, transport, industry, commerce and homes.
  4. Electric power generation and transmission - fossil fuel, hydroelectric, tidal and geothermal.
  5. Electric power generation - nuclear fuel cycle, reactor types and fuel sources.
  6. Energy sources for transportation, heat engines - internal and external combustion, fuel types and sources.
  7. Social impacts of fossil fuel usage - air pollution, fuel residuals and climate, resource depletion and energy costs.
  8. Impacts of the nuclear energy industry - diversion of fuel, waste disposal, nuclear accidents, decommissioning nuclear power stations.
  9. Renewable energy technologies, solar/wind power, present and future advantages and limitations.
  10. Improving energy efficiency, utilising waste heat, improved building and urban design, optimising transportation methods.
  11. Future developments in energy sources and energy storage, managing the transition from fossil fuels, energy and the design of future societies.
Lectures, tutorials, laboratory work and field studies.

Learning strategies and communication skills are taught in parallel with the formal content.

Grading Schema 1
Students please note: The marks and grades received by students on assessments may be subject to further moderation. All marks and grades are to be considered provisional until endorsed by the relevant Board of Examiners.


On-Campus Assessment







Research Report





N.B. Students are required to complete each element of the assessment.
Elliott, David. (1997). Energy and Environment. London: Routledge.
Boyle, G. (1996). Renewable energy: power for a sustainable future. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
BP statistical review of world energy. (1989). BP Company Pty Ltd.
Butti, K. and Peslin, J. (1980). A golden thread: 2500 years of solar architecture and technology. London: Marion Boyars.
Department of Primary Industries and Energy. (1988). Energy 2000. Canberra: Australian Government Publishing Service.
Department of Primary Industries and Energy. (1991). Energy and road transport: A discussion paper. Canberra: Australian Government Publishing Service
Department of Primary Industries and Energy. (1991). Issues in energy policy: An agenda for the 1990s. Canberra: Australian Government Publishing Service
Energy Policy and Planning Bureau. (1989). Power options for Western Australia, 1990-2000 : discussion paper. Perth, W.A. : energy Policy and Planning Bureau.
Flavin, C. and Lenssen, N. (1995). Power surge : a guide to the coming energy revolution. London : Earthscan Publications.
Flood, M. (1988). Solar prospects: The potential for renewable energy. London: Wilwood House.
Foley, G. (1992). The energy question. (4th ed.). London: Penguin.
Gilchrist, G. (1994). The big switch : clean energy for the twenty-first century. St. Leonards, N.S.W : Allen and Unwin.
Goldemberg, J. et al. (1988). Energy for a sustainable world. Wiley.
Groom, S. (1994). Energy options : a booklet produced for the Renewable Energy Advisory Council based on the report, Scenarios for alternative energy in Western Australia. Perth : Renewable Energy Advisory Council.
Grubb, M. (1990). Energy policies and the greenhouse effect: v. 1. Policy appraisal. London: Royal Institute of International Affairs.
Grubb, M. et al. (1992). Energy policies and the greenhouse effect: v. 2. Country studies and technical options. London: Royal Institute of International Affairs.
Hill, R., O'Keefe, P and Snape, C. (1995). The future of energy use. London: Earthscan.
Hinrichs, R. A. (1992). Energy. Philadelphia Saunders College Pub.
Hollander, J. M., (ed) (1992). The energy-environment connection. Washington: Island Press.
Howes, R., and Fainberg, A. (1991). The Energy sourcebook : a guide to technology, resources, and policy. New York: American Institute of Physics.
Ih-fei-Liu, P. (1993). Introduction to energy and the environment. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold.
Kraushaar, J., and Ristinen, R. A. (1993). Energy and problems of a technical society. (2nd ed.). New York: John Wiley.
Priest, J. (1991). Energy: principles, problems, alternatives. (4th ed). New York: Addison Wesley.
McGown, L. B. and Bockris, J.O'M. (1980). How to obtain abundant clean energy. New York: Plenum Press.
Reid, E. (1991). Rock solid: The geology of nuclear waste disposal. Glasgow: Tarragon Press.
Renewable Energy Advisory Council (1993). Scenarios for Alternative energy in Western Australia. Perth: Government of Western Australia.
Review Committee on Power Options for Western Australia. (Chair: Dr Frank Harman). (1990). Power Options for Western Australia.
Review Committee on Power Options for Western Australia. (1990). Power Options for Western Australia. Perth, WA: Energy Policy and Planning Bureau.
Schumacker, D. (1985). Energy: crisis or opportunity. London: Macmillan.
SECWA. 1991. Domestic energy use in W.A. SECWA.
Sorensen, B. (1979). Renewable energy. London: Academic Press.
Stevens, M. (1992). Renewable electricity for Australia. Canberra: Australian Govt. Pub. Service.
Tucker B. et al. (1986). CSIRO research for Australia: 7, weather and climate. Canberra: CSIRO.
Tyler, M. G. (1996). Living in the environment : principles, connections, and solutions. (9th ed.). Belmont, Calif: Wadsworth Pub. Co.
Wellburn, A. (1988). Air pollution and acid rain: The biological impact. Haslow, Essex: Longman.
Zweibel, K. (1990). Harnessing solar power: The photovoltaics challenge. N.Y.: Plenum Press.
Energy Matters
Issues in Science and Technology
New Scientist
Scientific American
Scientific America September 1990 (special issue: Energy for Planet Earth)
Solar Progress
Disability Standards for Education (Commonwealth 2005)
For the purposes of considering a request for Reasonable Adjustments under the Disability Standards for Education (Commonwealth 2005), inherent requirements for this subject are articulated in the Unit Description, Learning Outcomes, Graduate Attributes and Assessment Requirements of this entry. The University is dedicated to provide support to those with special requirements. Further details on the support for students with disabilities or medical conditions can be found at the Student Equity, Diversity and Disability Service website:

Academic Misconduct

Edith Cowan University has firm rules governing academic misconduct and there are substantial penalties that can be applied to students who are found in breach of these rules. Academic misconduct includes, but is not limited to:

  • plagiarism;
  • unauthorised collaboration;
  • cheating in examinations;
  • theft of other studentsí work.

Additionally, any material submitted for assessment purposes must be work that has not been submitted previously, by any person, for any other unit at ECU or elsewhere.

The ECU rules and policies governing all academic activities, including misconduct, can be accessed through the ECU website.

ECU Web Unit Outline