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GEOG471 Impact Assessment and Sustainability

The origins and principles of impact assessment (IA); the international state of IA; recent changes in New Zealand; methodology and IA; problems with IA practice, their causes and possible remedies.

Impact assessment is the most widely used environmental management process around the world, but its effectiveness is often limited by weak practice. This paper seeks to improve practice by developing a theory-based model of impact assessment relevant to its use in ecological, social, cultural, health and policy contexts. The paper is as relevant to international students as it is to New Zealand students, as the emphasis is on shaping impact assessment processes relevant to the decision-making context.

Paper title Impact Assessment and Sustainability
Paper code GEOG471
Subject Geography
EFTS 0.1667
Points 20 points
Teaching period Not offered in 2023 (On campus)
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $1,409.28
International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.

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The paper is available to students at or above 400-level across the campus. A background in some aspect of environmental or social/political science is preferable.
Teaching staff

Course Instructor to be advised. Please contact the department for more information.

Paper Structure

Topics covered include scoping and prediction, public participation, evaluating the significance of impact and reviewing for quality control. The paper is relevant to students from all backgrounds who have an interest in managing the natural, physical and social systems that make up our environment in more sustainable ways.

Assessment is 50% internal (on-going during the semester) and 50% external (final examination).

Teaching Arrangements

Two 2-hour lectures per week (includes practical workshops and group work).


Textbooks are not required for this paper.
Readings are prescribed as required.

Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Communication, Critical thinking, Environmental literacy, Information literacy, Research, Self-motivation, Teamwork.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes

On completion of the paper students will be able to:

  • Develop an understanding of the intentions and role of IA and, in particular, to identify who benefits from the process and how
  • Emphasise the different levels and forms of impact assessment
  • Highlight the importance of methodology in IA activities and to clarify the relationship with scientific studies
  • Increase the understanding of the New Zealand IA processes
  • Emphasise the role and importance of public involvement in the IA process
  • Develop practical skills and confidence in undertaking impact assessment studies

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Not offered in 2023

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system