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Sustainability Concepts and Issues
Assessment
Report

Your task
Write a formal report to an organisation about the implications of a major sustainability issues for them
and their stakeholders. This report is somewhat inspired by the adage “think globally, act locally”. The fact
is that everyone will be affected by major sustainability issues in the coming decades. Every business,
council and community group will need to consider the implications for their organisation and how they
should respond. But unfortunately many organisations have limited knowledge of these issues and so the
first purpose of the report is to inform the organisation about the issue – globally, nationally and locally.
The second purpose is to identify implications for the organisation and possible responses.
You should first choose an organisation for which you are writing the report. This must be a real
organisation, even though the request for the report is hypothetical. Possible types of organisations
include community based organisations, local councils, government departments, businesses,
corporations and industry lobby groups. You may choose an organisation with which you are currently
associated, perhaps your employer. To some extent the choice of organisation is not critical since every
organisation will be impacted in some way, but you should choose an organisation with which you either
have some familiarity or for which there is adequate information available regarding their activities. You
do not need to contact or visit the organisation provided that you have sufficient information about their
activities.
You must then choose one major sustainability issue from the following list:
Population, carrying capacity and food
Climate change
Peak oil (or peak fossil fuels)
Limits to growth (focusing on economic disruption)

If you wish to consider a different sustainability issue or a variation from those listed above, please
contact the course leader.
You must provide a description and discussion of the chosen issue including the underlying driving
factors. You should discuss the likely impacts and societal responses, with a minimum time horizon of 20
years. Your discussions should provide perspectives from the global, national and local levels. Remember
that your target audience is the chosen organisation and so this section must be written in appropriate
(largely non-technical) language but supported by credible references.
You must then focus on the local implications of this issue, in order to identify risks and opportunities for
the chosen organisation over a similar time-frame. For example, a business may not be able to continue
some activities or products, but on the other hand, there may be opportunities for different approaches.
Similarly, a community organisation may need to adapt its programs to meet different kinds of local
needs in the future.
Your report must make at least seven clear recommendations for action by the organisation, with at least
two in each of three time frames (short term – 1 to 5 years, medium term – 5 to 10 years, and long term –
beyond 10 years). Recommendations might concern changes to the organisation’s activities, including
particular projects or campaigns that it should undertake, changes to operations etc. Short term
recommendations are likely to be fairly specific whereas long term recommendations are likely to be
quite general.

Aims
The aims of this report include testing your knowledge and skills in the following areas:
Collecting information by independent observation and research
Using evidence to support your descriptions and analysis
Understanding and identifying the relationships between theory, reading and practice
Relating individual circumstances to themes and objectives of the course as a whole
Organising diverse data and analysis into a coherent report.

Prerequisite study
All modules should be studied prior to completing this assessment. In particular, modules 3 and 4 provide
important theoretical material, modules 8 and 11 provide material regarding potential responses,
and module 12 provides some perspectives on the future. Note also the following regarding specific
topics:
Population, carrying capacity and food begins in module 2, with Australian perspectives covered
in module 5 and global issues in module 7
Climate change is primarily covered in module 6
Peak oil (or peak fossil fuels) is primarily covered in module 7, with some relevant material in module
9
Limits to growth begins in module 2, has some coverage in modules 7 and 9 and more in module 10.

In each case you should carefully examine the Recommended and Additional Resources sections of the
relevant modules in order to identify potentially useful sources for your report. Remember that you must
not reference the module eBooks but you may find the references very useful.

Format
Take note of the general format requirements here. This is a formal report which must follow a very
specific format as follows (in order):
A title page that includes an appropriate title, the name of the author, the name of the person and/or
organisation for whom the report is prepared, and the date of the report.
An Executive Summary, which should appear on a page of its own, be no longer than 500 words and
which briefly summarises the key findings of the report, including the key recommendations (it is
recommended that you write the Executive Summary last). The Executive Summary is normally
written in the past tense, e.g. “This report has examined …”.
A Table of Contents that will include the Executive Summary (even though it appears before the table)
and all other sections and sub-sections, including the List of References and any Appendices (it is
strongly recommended that you use the automatic Table of Contents facility of your word processor).
The Executive Summary and Table of Contents appear on pages numbered using small Roman
numeral, i.e. i, ii. The main part of the report begins on a new page with numbering starting from page
1 and comprises numbered sections and sub-sections.
Section 1 is an Introduction section comprising at least three subsections: Authorisation, Limitations,
Scope.
Authorisation (normally numbered sub-section 1.1) indicates who has commissioned the report and
why (this could be a person or a group, such as a board or committee of management).
Limitations (normally numbered sub-section 1.2) identifies any limitations or hindrances that have
affected the production of the report, such as limited access to information that may be private and
confidential, or that may be out of date etc.
Scope (normally numbered sub-section 1.3) indicates the breadth of the report’s considerations and
may state certain aspects that the report does not cover.
You may include an additional sub-section in the Introduction that discusses your methodology.
The body of the report will include various numbered sections and sub-sections that present your
research findings and analysis (it is suggested that you break this into at least two major sections, the
first providing details of the chosen issue and the second examining the implications for the
organisation).
A Conclusion section (also numbered) will briefly summarise the report’s findings and conclusion(s)
leading into the recommendations.
A Recommendations section (also numbered) will present the recommendations in detail, normally
numbered for easy reference.
The List of References (section not numbered) follows, beginning on a new page.
Appendices (numbered 1, 2 or A, B etc.) may be included, each starting on a new page, for example to
present certain detailed information or analysis that underpins the analysis but was too bulky to
include in the main part of the report. Diagrams and graphs can normally be included within the body
of the report but if extensive, could be placed in appendices.
You may care to provide a Glossary of terms as one of the appendices. This can save words in your
main report.

For more details on the format of a Report you may refer to the ‘Communication Skills Handbook’
(Summers & Smith, 2010, ch. 3). Refer to the chapter on how to use your word processor effectively, which
describes how to use Microsoft Word to format the report.

Word limit
The word count must be between 1500 and 2500 (there is no +/- 10%). The word count includes
everything from the Introduction to the Recommendations inclusive, including in-text references and any
direct quotes used in those section. It excludes the Executive Summary (which has its own word limit of
500 words), Table of Contents, List of References and any appendices. The word count range is
deliberately very broad, allowing ample scope for students to cover the chosen issue in an appropriate
level of detail. As noted above, additional material can always be moved into an appendix if necessary,
while diagrams and graphs are a useful way of presenting detailed information with little word count.
Note that while the penalties for going over the word limit are somewhat limited, assignments that are
excessively long will not be read beyond 20% over the word limit (i.e. over 3000 words).

Special requirements
You must not reference the course study eBooks. You are required to reference credible sources for the
details of the sustainability issue that you analyse, and where appropriate, for aspects of your
recommended actions. Many such references are provided in the study materials, particularly in the
reference lists at the end of the relevant module eBooks, which you should read thoroughly. In some
cases there are cerain references that are considered almost essential on a particular topic, e.g. if
covering climate change, the IPCC Synthesis Report is a key reference. A minimum of ten credible sources
must be referenced (credible references include the readings, other reputable books, refereed journal
articles and material from credible bodies such as government and research organisations). You must
write in your own words with a maximum of 5% of words being direct quotations. All in-text references
should contain page numbers where available, especially for books.

Marking criteria
Three quarters of the marks (75%) will relate to the specific requiremenst for this assignment:
1. A clear and concise Executive Summary including a summary of all your recommendations  (10%)
2. An appropriate introduction including authorisation, limitations and scope (5%)
3. A detailed discussion and analysis of a major sustainability issue, including as appropriate, global,
national and local impacts and responses, with a minimum time horizon of 20 years  (25%)
4. A discussion of the implications (including risks) for the organisation (and their stakeholders) arising
from this sustainability issue, and identification of opportunities for action  (20%)
5. A clear conclusion leading into at least seven recommendations for action by the organisation, with
at least two in each of short, medium and long time frames  (15%)
A quarter of the marks (25%) will be more general:
1.
2.
3.
4.

Your approach in developing a well argued case (5%)
Evidence of rigour in your research (5%)
Literary form (5%)
Adherence to submission format requirements and word count (5%)

5. Referencing (5%)
The marking criteria sheet is provided here (you do not need to submit this).

Additional comments
It is vital that you relate your report back to the knowledge that you have gained from the course,
particularly appropriate sustainability principles.

Exemplars
Two past student assignments are provided below with permission. They are of a reasonably high
standard but do not assume they are perfect.
Exemplar 1
Exemplar 2

References
Summers, J. & Smith, B. (2010). Communications skills handbook (3rd ed.). Milton, Qld: Wiley.

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USQStudyDesk: My home > My courses > Fac of Hlth, Eng & Sciences > 2015 Semester 2 >
CDS2001_2015_2 > Welcome to CDS2001! > Assessment
USQ TIME 6:33 pm Tue, 15 Sep 2015

Sustainability Concepts and Issues
Assessment
How to use your word processor effectively
When writing your assignments on the computer it is worth knowing how to use the word processor
properly. While you can use it just like a typewriter, you can make your life so much easier by using the
features of the word processor effectively.
These suggestions apply to Microsoft Word but most apply equally well to other word processors such as
OpenOffice Writer. Some details are somewhat different in different versions of Word. These notes
generally apply to Word 2010 and Word 2013.

Page layout
When you first open a new ‘empty’ document, make sure that you set up a few things correctly before you
write anything. If you use the word processor properly, you can change most of these things later on, but
it makes sense to do the basic set-up before you start writing! First is the page format. Click on the Page
Layout ribbon (or in Word 2003 select the File menu then Page Set-up).
Margins allows you to set the appropriate margins and you can make sure that the page orientation is
Portrait, that is, the long way vertical. If you ever need to have some pages oriented the other way
(Landscape) then you can insert section breaks (under Breaks) into your document as the page set-up
only applies to the current section. The paper Size (Paper tab in Word 2003) allows you to select the
paper size, which in Australia is always A4. Click on the Insert ribbon and insert a Cover Page – use the
Conservative style. (In Word 2003 use the Layout tab on Page Set-up and tick the Different First Page
box so that the first page has a different header and footer, then insert page break via the Insert menu so
that you have two pages).

Headers and footers

Now you can set up your headers and footers by selecting Header or Footer from the Insert ribbon then
select Edit Header or Edit Footer (in Word 2003 select the View menu and then Header and Footer).
You probably won’t want any header or footer on your first page so scroll down to the second page. You
can type text into the Header area, such as a running title that will appear on every page. Scroll down to
the Footer box (or click on Go To Footer) and you can add a page number there using the Page Number
icon and select the position at the bottom of the page (in Word 2003 use the # button). This should start
the numbering on your second page as page 1 as the cover sheet has no page number (in Word 2003 if
you want the cover page to not be numbered and for the second page to be numbered from 1 then click
on the Format Page Number button and tell the page numbers to start from 0).
After completing your header and footer click on the Close Header and Footer.

Use of styles
Every piece of text in a document should be formatted using a particular style. You should never have to
do manual formatting except for adding some italics (or maybe bold) to certain text. Line spacing,
paragraph spacing, language and so forth are all controlled using styles. In some cases the standard Word
styles for Normal text, the Title and various Headings will be quite acceptable but you may need to
adjust spacing as described below.

Modifying the Normal style
The Normal style is used for all normal text. Go to the Home ribbon and locate the Normal style (in Word
2003 you must select the Format menu and then Styles and Formatting then select a style from the list
displayed on the right; if the Normal style isn’t showing you can select All Styles from the Show menu at
the bottom). To modify the Normal style,  right click on the style in the Home ribbon and select Modify
(in Word 2003 click on the pull down menu on the Normal style and select Modify style). Here you can
specify:
the line spacing (probably 1.5 so click on the appropriate icon)
the paragraph spacing (the default is 10 points after each paragraph which is probably OK, otherwise
click on the Increase/Decrease Paragraph Spacing buttons)
font and size (select Times New Roman and 12 point)
justification (generally the default of left justified will be fine)
language (via the Format button, make sure you have English (Australia))
Now you can start writing!

Some simple rules when typing your document
1. Always select the appropriate style for the text you are writing from the style list on the Home
ribbon (in Word 2003 you can use the Style menu). If you forget or you want to change the style of a
piece of text you can select it and then choose the appropriate style from the Style list/menu.
2. Most text will use the Normal style. You only hit the Enter key at the end of a paragraph and you
only hit it ONCE. This will start a new paragraph and leave the appropriate spacing between
paragraphs. Never leave blank lines in your document. Very occasionally you may need to force text
to a new line without starting a new paragraph, which can be done using Shift-Enter.
3. Italics or bold can be done using the Italic button (or Ctrl-I) or Bold button (or Ctrl-B) on the Home

4.
5.
6.

7.

ribbon (in Word 2003 these buttons should always be visible). Other than this you should not need
to do any manual formatting or font changes as these are handled by the style.
Bulleted and numbered lists can be inserted using the Bullets and Numbering buttons on the
Home ribbon (again, in Word 2003 these buttons should always be visible).
A paragraph can be indented (such as for a large quote) using the Increase Indent button. At the
start of the next paragraph use the Decrease Indent button to return to normal indentation.
Headings and sub-headings should use the Heading 1 and Heading 2  styles. After you hit Enter at
the end of a heading the style should automatically revert to the Normal style, but if not, click on the
Normal style.
You should not generally need to insert manual page breaks. Occasionally when you are almost
ready to submit an assignment you may insert a page break on the Insert Ribbon (in Word 2003 on
the Insert menu) if an automatic page break is not in such a good place.

How to format a Report in Word
A Report has very specific formatting requirements (see the specification for the Report and/or Summers
& Smith for more details), but to do this manually would be tedious. Word is ideally suited to doing such
formatting but to take full advantage you should set-up your report document in Word BEFORE doing any
typing.
First, make sure you set-up the cover page, headers/footers and modify the Normal style as described
above. Don’t worry about page numbers because we will do those a bit differently for a Report.
Next set-up the basic page structure including the Executive Summary, Table of Contents and the correct
form of page numbering. These instructions are for Word 2010 so there may be minor differences if you
are using Word 2007 or Word 2013.
1. Move your cursor to the top of the second page, i.e. not the cover page.
2. Select Heading 1 style and type “Executive Summary”, hit Enter at the end and then type a “To be
completed” which should be in the Normal style.
3. Now Insert a page break (Insert ribbon, Page Break)
4. You are now at the top of the third page. Insert the Table of Contents (References ribbon, Table of
Contents) and select Automatic Table 2.
5. Move your cursor below the Table of Contents and insert a Section Break (Page Layout ribbon,
Breaks and select Next Page under Section Breaks).
6. You are now at the top of the fourth page. Insert the Introduction heading by selecting Heading 1
style and typing “Introduction”.
7. Now to get the headings numbered correctly, with your cursor on the Introduction heading, select
the Multilevel List button from the Home ribbon and choose the list style that says “1 Heading 1,
1.1 Heading 2, 1.1.1 Heading 3” etc. For more details see here.
8. To try this out, on the next line after “Introduction” select style Heading 2 and type “Authorisation”. It
should appear as section 3.1.
9. Now when you do any headings using the Heading styles they will be numbered, but you will notice
that the Introduction should be section 1! Fix this by positioning your cursor on the Executive
Summary heading (and also the Table of Contents heading), selecting the Multilevel List icon and
selecting None. These headings should then be unnumbered and the Introduction will now be
numbered 1, Authorisation 1.1. Later you will also need to do this to the References heading (which
should be unnumbered).

10. Now let’s fix the page numbering. With your cursor on the Executive Summary page insert Page
Number (on the Insert ribbon) and select Plain numbering at the Bottom on the right hand side
of the page. Right-click on the page number and select Format Page Numbers then choose the
small Roman style i.e. i, ii, iii.
11. Now scroll down to the Introduction page. You will notice it has no page number. You should still be
in the Header & Footer Tools ribbon but if not, click in the footer area at the bottom of the page.
Click on the tick of Different First Page to deselect and also click on Link to Previous to deselect
(because this footer is different from the previous section). The page number will probably now by 0.
Right click on the page number, select Format Page Numbering, make sure the style is Arabic, i.e. 1,
2, 3, and set it to start at page 1. Now close the Header & Footer tools ribbon (red X at top).
12. Finally, click on the Table of Contents, at the top select Update Table and choose Update entire
table. The table should now correctly show your Executive Summary, Introduction and
Authorisation with their correct section and page numbers (sometime the Table of Contents includes
itself, which is a bit untidy – reformatting it will usually fix this).
13. Now you’re set to go! Remember to ONLY use the Heading styles for all headings and the Normal
style for all text.

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USQStudyDesk: My home > My courses > Fac of Hlth, Eng & Sciences > 2015 Semester 2 >
CDS2001_2015_2 > Welcome to CDS2001! > Assessment
USQ TIME 6:33 pm Tue, 15 Sep 2015

Sustainability Concepts and Issues
Assessment
How to approach your assignments
The assessment for this course includes a number of written assignments. You may find these daunting at
first but you need to approach them in a methodical manner.
Here are some steps that you should consider following:
1. Analyse the question and assignment requirements. Take particular note of any special
requirements such as length. Check the marking criteria to make sure that you understand the basis
upon which you will be assessed. Where there is a choice of topic (and there usually is) consider your
options before settling on a precise topic. If in doubt, raise your questions on StudyDesk or directly
with the course leader.
2. Do some preliminary research on your topic typically using the study modules, text, readings and
any key information on your chosen topic. At this stage you should consider whether you fully
understand the topic and indeed whether the topic you have chosen is appropriate. It is better to
change topics at this stage than when you have done a lot more work. Again, if in doubt, raise your
questions on StudyDesk or directly with the course leader.
3. Next you need to do some in depth research. Here the USQ library  and search tools such as Google
Scholar will be invaluable. Don’t forget the study modules, readings and the reference lists for each
study module. It is very easy at this point to be overwhelmed with too much information so it is
important that you evaluate each possible source as to its relevance to your assignment. For journal
articles the abstract (a short summary) is a quick guide that will often allow you to judge its
relevance without having to read the whole article. Take notes of the information you find, recording
the reference (author, date, title and source) and the key points, plus perhaps some key quotations
(always record the exact page number of any quotations). It is very important to also judge the
reliability of your sources and to avoid sources that may be inaccurate or unduly biased. Finally, you
should think about what key resources you may not have found. One good way of doing this is to
see what sources are referenced by the resources you do have, such as the relavant study modules,
your text or readings. This might guide you to a key resource that you had not previously found.
4. Now you should have most of the information that you need to complete your assignment. But it

5.

6.

7.

8.

9.

10.

needs to be organised into a coherent form. This is often the most difficult part of doing
assignments. Look back to the assignment requirements and see if there is a suggested or required
structure. Often the marking scheme will suggest a possible structure for the assignment. With a
structure in place you can start to position the information you have into different sections. This is
most easily done using a word processor. It is important that you carry the reference information
also.
Before proceeding to the next step of completing the writing of the assignment, think about whether
you have all the information you need. This is a good stage to go back to step 3 and fill in any gaps
that you have in your research.
Now you need to complete the writing of your assignment. Take the information that you have
sourced and synthesise it into a coherent form. All information should either be summarised in your
own words or direct quotations used, but we recommend that you minimise the use of direct
quotations. In every case make sure that you provide an in-text citation to each reference and place
the reference at the end of your document in the List of References. Make sure you follow the
requirements APA referencing as detailed on the USQ Library website . A few other points to note:
Keep sentences short and punchy rather than long and complex
Avoid using semicolons and be careful with placement of commas
Avoid using contracted words such as don’t, that’s and you’re, write them fully, e.g. as do not,
that is or you are
Generally only use apostrophes for possessive, not for plural. but also know the different
between its and it’s (which should be written as it is)
Keep paragraphs reasonably short, usually no more than half a page, and start a new paragraph
for a new topic or part of your argument/discussion
Where a whole paragraph relates to a single source, a single citation either at the beginning or
end of the paragraph is sufficient
Always write in the third person, that is, avoid using words such as “I believe that ..” but instead
say “The author believes that …” or even better “It is apparent that …”
You need to consider the length of your assignment relative to the length requirements specified. If
it is too short then perhaps you need to do some more research. If it is too long you need to go
through your assignment and consider where it can be shortened. Often this does not require you
to remove information so much as to ensure that your words are being used effectively and without
undue repetition.
Now proof read your assignment or get someone else to proof read it for you. If you are doing it
yourself it is recommended that you read it aloud. This often allows you to detect grammar errors or
missing words. Also check your referencing, looking out for the correct format for in-text citations
and references, the matching of citations to references (they MUST have the same author name and
year), and that references are in alphabetic order.
Before submitting your assignment it is recommended that you use the assignment checklist  to
check all your assignment against all of the items on the list. This will go much of the way towards
ensuring you conform to requirements for writing, layout and referencing.
Once you are happy with your assignment you need to submit it for marking.

As you can see, this is quite a long set of steps. Make sure that you start work on your assignments well in
advance of the due date!
Finally, it is also strongly recommended that you visit The Learning Centre and the USQ Library online
tutorials.

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USQStudyDesk: My home > My courses > Fac of Hlth, Eng & Sciences > 2015 Semester 2 >
CDS2001_2015_2 > Welcome to CDS2001! > Assessment
USQ TIME 6:33 pm Tue, 15 Sep 2015

Sustainability Concepts and Issues
Assessment
Assignment checklist
This list is for the convenience of students but should NOT be submitted with your assignment.

Content
Assignment has been given a meaningful title (where there is a choice of topics, the topic chosen
should be clearly indicated)
All aspects of the assignment marking scheme have been clearly addressed
Where required, there is clear incorporation of course theory including important principles,
frameworks or concepts
A clear and justified position on the issue is presented
Where an Executive Summary is required, it summarises the key conclusion(s) of the work – “the take
home message”

Research
Key references are credible, e.g. journals, books, readings, government websites
The textbook and/or course readings are referenced where relevant
Key sources are used where appropriate (refer to the reference lists of study module or to
recommended resources)
References that may be biased or lack credibility are identified as such in the text

Layout
Title page is provided with student name and number, course name and assignment title and/or topic
(and for Reports, the person and/or organisation for whom teh report is prepared, and the date)
Page numbers on bottom of each page
Normal text uses a 12 point serif font (e.g. Times New Roman)
1½ line spacing is used for normal text

Normal text has a jagged right margin (not justified)
Headings use a bold sans serif font (e.g. Arial or Cambria)
Consistent spacing between paragraphs (recommend use styles)
Short direct quotes are placed in double quote marks and must be referenced with a page number
where available
Long quotes (> 40 words) are indented, in normal font with no quote marks
Generally no more than 5% of the word count is direct quotes
No use of underlining ANYWHERE
Any diagrams, images or graphs are numbered, captioned and referred to from within the text

Writing
Proofing language has been set to English (Australian)
Spelling (and grammar, with caution) is checked for errors using the word processor
Particularly check words for which there are alternative spellings (e.g. principle versus principal)
Proof read for correctness and typos
All use of apostrophes checked (especially the difference between its and it’s, and there is no its’)
Avoid contracted words such as don’t, that’s, you’re
No use of first person (do not say “I think” or “I believe”)
Consistent use of capitalisation
Any abbreviations fully written on first use
No use of semicolons except to seperate multiple references
Paragraphs are appropriate length and cover a coherent topic or issue
Assignment is within the appropriate word count range, excluding the cover sheet,
Executive Summary etc., and list of references

Referencing
In-text citations include only author surname(s) and year/date
List of reference items include author initials
Commas present between author names and year/date (APA)
Direct quotes include a page number where available
References to books and large documents include a page number
Every item in list of references is cited at least once in text and vice versa
Author surnames match exactly between in-text citation and list of references (except where et al. is
used as appropriate)
List of references is headed “List of references”
Items in list of references are listed in alphabetical order of author surname and then date for the
same author(s)
Multiple items by the same author(s) in the same year are tagged with a lowercase letter, e.g. 2009a
and 2009b
Web sources have a Retrieved date if the content is likely to change
Book and journal names are shown in italics
Page numbers are only shown in the list of references for journal/newspaper articles and chapters in
edited books
Legislation is referenced in-text in italics showing the year and jurisdiction (legislation does NOT need
to go in the list of references)

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