ENCN405-23S1 (C) Semester One 2023

Ecologically Engineered Systems

15 points

Start Date: Monday, 20 February 2023
End Date: Sunday, 25 June 2023
Withdrawal Dates
Last Day to withdraw from this course:
  • Without financial penalty (full fee refund): Sunday, 5 March 2023
  • Without academic penalty (including no fee refund): Sunday, 14 May 2023


Resources required for agriculture, horticulture, aquaculture. Best management practices for stormwater and agricultural runoff. Engineered wetlands. Ecological economics and restoration.

Ecological Engineering/ Pūhanga rauropi solves problems for societies and for the environment by designing solutions that support the interdependency of people and their ecosystems. Ecological Engineers fundamentally design sustainable solutions that naturally derive their energy and materials from ecosystems. These designs aim to integrate human society with the natural environment for the benefit of both. Applications include engineered (including treatment) wetlands, green roofs and walls, fish passage designs, aquaculture systems and waterways restoration. Relevant tools include environmental management design strategies and computational models of material mass flow and life cycle assessment. Regenerative designs that valorise wastes are frequently included that align with the principle of circularity.

This course introduces emerging ecological engineers to the principles and common applications of Ecological Engineering and how to account for natural resources value through ecological accounting practices. The fundamental principles of ecological engineering designs are taught and linked to the Laws of Mass and Energy conservation. Ecosystem structures and processes are explained as the basis of design solutions. Building on these aspects, engineering principles of flow, material mass (e.g. pollutant loads) and hydraulic considerations covered in pre-requisite courses, are integrated with ecological aspects to provide design solutions for different problems created by human activities. Examples include solving fish barriers, nutrient wastewater pollution in rural and urban areas, river degradation and, mitigating solid waste production.

Students will develop deeper critical analysis and holistic systems thinking in this course in the choice of and design attributes of various ecologically engineered designs. Field trips will include practical assessment of the engineered designs implemented. Students will also develop practical experience in sizing and assessing the merits of different ecologically engineered designs. Inherent trade-offs in choices associated with designs will be covered, an essential engineering (and life) skill.

Learning Outcomes

The learning objectives for this course map to one or more attributes in the Washington Accord: an international agreement that stipulates the key learning outcomes for professional degrees in a number of jurisdictions around the world, including New Zealand. They also map to our UC Graduate Attributes: Employable, Innovative and Enterprising (EIE); Bicultural Competence and Confidence (BCC); Globally Aware (GA) and Community Engagement (CE). You can find details of the: Washington Accord attributes here: http://www.ieagreements.org/accords/washington/, and the UC Graduate Attributes here: https://www.canterbury.ac.nz/study/graduate-profile/students/what-are-the-graduate-attributes/

At the conclusion of this course students should be able to do the learning objectives listed in the table below.

Learning Objective

1 Explain the core principles of Ecological Engineering and how these align to the principles of mass conservation and sustainability;

2 Apply the core ecological engineering principles in the design of solutions that enhance water quality and ecological habitats;

3 Apply fundamental hydraulic and pollutant decay equations to the design and sizing of treatment wetlands for application to wastewater treatment;

4 Evaluate site characteristics and challenges of impaired ecosystems and be able to suggest ecologically appropriate design solutions to address these issues. Examples include critiquing installed fish passage designs and undertake a river restoration assessment using standard tools;

5 Understand and explain how to use tools and undertake assessments for ecological accounting assessments including life cycle assessment, ecological footprints and other quantitative tools;

6 Articulate the range of ecologically-engineered solutions applied in engineering practice and how to assess their respective merits and fit-for-purpose


Equivalent Courses


Course Coordinator

Aisling O'Sullivan


Tonny de Vries and Frances Charters


Assessment Due Date Percentage 
Assignment 1 5%
Assignment 2 (fish passsage) 15%
final exam 55%
Fish passage assessment 15%
River restoration assessment 10%

1. Exam: You cannot pass this course unless you achieve a mark of at least 50% in the final exam.

2. Assessment submission: All assignments must be submitted by the due date via Learn electronically. A penalty will be applied to late assignments. The penalty for this course has been set at 20% per day of the actual marks available for the item of assessment. If a student does not submit an assignment by the deadline due to personal circumstances beyond their control they should discuss this with the lecturer involved as soon as possible (and ideally within 24 hours).

3. Dishonest behaviour: It is the responsibility of each student to be familiar with the definitions, policies and procedures concerning academic misconduct/dishonest behaviour. Instances of academic misconduct will be dealt with in a serious and appropriate manner. Students should be familiar with the University’s Course and Examination Regulations.

4. Special Considerations: Any student who has been impaired by significant exceptional and/or unforeseeable circumstances that have prevented them from completing any major assessment items (worth ≥10%), or that have impaired their performance such that the results are not representative of their true level of mastery of the course material, may apply for special consideration through the formal university process. The applicability and academic remedy/action associated with the special consideration process is listed for each assessment item below. Please refer to the University Special Consideration Regulations and Special Consideration Policies and Procedures documents for more information.

Textbooks / Resources

This course does not have a required text and instead provides notes and other resources on LEARN. Furthermore, a number of articles will be posted on the class LEARN site as recommended reading. Please note that all lecture recordings, made available through LEARN, are copyright and are not for public dissemination.


Remote completion
ENCN405 is not available for distance learning. The computer lab and field trips are essential
components of the course and need to be attended in order to pass the course.

Indicative Fees

Domestic fee $1,164.00

International fee $5,750.00

* 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.

For further information see Civil and Natural Resources Engineering .

All ENCN405 Occurrences

  • ENCN405-23S1 (C) Semester One 2023