ENCN375-22S2 (C) Semester Two 2022

Systems Engineering for a Changing Climate

15 points

Start Date: Monday, 18 July 2022
End Date: Sunday, 13 November 2022
Withdrawal Dates
Last Day to withdraw from this course:
  • Without financial penalty (full fee refund): Sunday, 31 July 2022
  • Without academic penalty (including no fee refund): Sunday, 2 October 2022


Engineering within planetary boundaries. Social, cultural, and economic factors. Risk and systems. Engineering ethics. Case studies of mitigation and adaptation options.

This is a course about using systems approaches to solve complex problems. Rather than receiving a design brief to follow, engineering leaders are faced with situations which they must define into problems and figure out how to solve in ethical, legal, economical, and creative ways. Consider this: how would you make a community or organization carbon neutral by 2050? How do you prepare a community for natural hazards that may become more extreme? These are the questions that engineers are already being faced with – understanding how to tackle these complex challenges will ultimately determine whether our communities, organizations, and country survive and thrive.
Solving a problem like climate change requires an approach that considers the entire system. Not only do we have to integrate the elements of civil and natural resources engineering that you have so far learned, but we must also look beyond engineering. As society’s engineers we have the responsibility to be leaders in our community on policy discussions involving the built environment, we must be managers of risk in the face of what feels like overwhelming uncertainty, we must be stewards of our environment, and to achieve these we must be the integrators of technology, ideas, and people if we are to find appropriate solutions. Because of our problem-solving skills and understanding of technology, engineers are an essential and leading partner in climate mitigation and adaptation.
Therefore, the aim of this course is to enable you to tackle system-wide challenges, such as climate change. Such problems cannot be solved in isolation. Ultimately, due to the dire situation our communities face, we aim to enable and empower you to actively consider climate change in every aspect of your professional career.

Learning Outcomes

At the end of this course, you will:
● Understand complex systems problems: the complex, multi-directional relationships between climate change, communities, and the engineer’s role
● Formulate and critically evaluate interventions into complex systems: strategies to mitigate and adapt to climate change
● Understand your role, as engineers, as stewards of the natural environment–and act and communicate ethically and legally, with respect to the diversity of interests and people affected by climate change
● Understand how to manage risk and uncertainty
● Continually learn, integrate ideas and perspectives, and adapt as an engineer in a changing environment.

One of the learning objectives of this course is that you learn and demonstrate the ability to independently learn. Therefore, half of the lectures will be “flipped” with a discussion focus. Lecture A will be a 1-2-hour discussion session. In this section you will be divided into discussion groups and, at times, expected to research material and teach one another. There are four streams and you are required to attend the stream you have been allocated. The professors and tutors will be present to guide the discussion.
Lectures B and C will be presented using video lectures (equivalent to 2 hours per week). We will occasionally have guest lectures during Lectures B or C which you are expected to attend in person. Advance notice will be given to remind you.
Here is a rough guide for the time you will spend on the various aspects of the course:

Lecture A – discussion – 4 streams - 24 Hours

Lectures B and C – lecture – 2 streams - 24 Hours

Discussion lecture preparation - 12 Hours

Individual assignments and learning - 84 Hours

Quizzes - 6 Hours


ENCN201 (for basics of engineering writing)


Timetable Note

A detailed schedule is available on Learn. There will be weekly announcements detailing any readings to complete, lectures to watch, guest lectures to attend, and assignments due for the following week.

Course Coordinator / Lecturer

Tom Logan


Rebecca Peer


There are three main mechanisms for assessment in this course: quizzes, individual coding, and individual writing. There is no final exam. In light of this, we have distributed the workload for assessment across the semester.
All assessments have a 30 minute submission grace period to allow for technical difficulties with uploading. Beyond this late assessment will lose 10% recurring every 24 hours.

Quizzes (5%)
This course requires you to learn independently using lecture videos and occasionally assigned readings. To ensure you are following the course content, there will be short quizzes on the material covered each week (with the exception of week 12). The quizzes will be open for two weeks (e.g., week 1 quiz will close for attempts at the end of week 3) and can be attempted as many times as you like within that time. At the end of the course, we will drop your lowest quiz grade.

Coding assignments (25%)
You will complete two coding assignments in this course. The first is a quantitative risk assessment and the second is a network analysis.

Writing assignments (70%)
This course focuses heavily on critical thinking and your ability to understand and communicate complex topics. As such, there are 4 total writing assignments for this course.

You will complete two short (maximum two pages) briefing papers, where you must provide a succinct, but complete summary on a given issue.

You will complete two reports. The first is a 10-page report (that will be used by ENCN301) about Christchurch’s exposure to sea level rise under climate change using results from your first coding assignment. The second is a report in which you will assess the sustainability of infrastructure changes in Christchurch.

The detailed breakdown and grade distribution and due dates for assessments are as follows -

Quizzes - 5% - Open for 2 weeks*
Risk assessment analysis (coding 1) - 12.5% - Week 3
Climate adaptation briefing (briefing 1) - 10% - Week 4
Risk assessment report (report 1) - 25% - Week 6
Carbon accounting analysis (coding 2) - 12.5% - Week 8
Climate mitigation briefing (briefing 2) - 10% - Week 10
Sustainability assessment report (report 2) - 25% - Week 12

Textbooks / Resources

Electronic copies of course materials will be made available through Learn.


All communication with the class will be through lectures and Learn.

Repeating students are expected to participate fully in the course and complete all of the assessment.

This is the third year we are teaching this course at UC after recreating the course in 2020. Therefore, welcome and encourage hearing from you throughout the course on how we can improve our delivery of the material to help you learn. We will respond to your constructive feedback as we proceed.

Indicative Fees

Domestic fee $1,002.00

International fee $5,625.00

* All fees are inclusive of NZ GST or any equivalent overseas tax, and do not include any programme level discount or additional course-related expenses.

Limited Entry Course

Maximum enrolment is 245

For further information see Civil and Natural Resources Engineering .

All ENCN375 Occurrences

  • ENCN375-22S2 (C) Semester Two 2022