Available in 2021
Course code



10 units


3000 level

Course handbook


Some problems that challenge humanity persist irrespective of the resources and expertise invested to improve them. Examples include mitigating climate change, the preventable health and obesity crisis, unsustainable economies and poverty. These types of problems are called 'wicked' problems and typically are high stakes, resist solution, and even resist agreed definition. Scientists who seek to improve complex problems will need to work in transdisciplinary teams using methods that work with, rather than ignore, complexity.

This course is the first half of a two-course pair: SCIE3001A Transdisciplinary Capstone A: Planning & Implementing and SCIE3001B Transdisciplinary Capstone B: Implementing and Communicating. In SCIE3001A, you will plan and begin to develop your project. In SCIE3001B you will complete your project and communicate your findings. You will also continue to build your employability throughout the course.

The course will give you the skills to identify complex problems and convincingly explain what makes them complex. It involves a practical project you undertake for a client, someone from our university’s community, be they local or international. You will work in a transdisciplinary team to create a social enterprise startup.

The evidence-based approach you learn will be equally relevant for working in industry, undertaking applied research, applying for research grants or creating your own entrepreneurial business. Developing a startup will allow you to use your science capabilities to contribute new responses to wicked problems. It gives you the skills to create your own employment in a careers market that is highly dynamic. Service to our university’s community will mean you can graduate from university already demonstrating your ability to improve the big issues challenging our society.

Availability2021 Course Timetables


  • Semester 1 - 2021
  • Semester 2 - 2021

Multi-term sequence

This course is part of a multi-term sequence. Both Part A and Part B must be completed to meet the requirements of the sequence. Part A and Part B must be completed in consecutive terms. Students must complete Part A before completing Part B. Students must complete the sequence within a twelve month period. If students complete Part A but are unable to complete Part B within the timeframe, they must re-enrol in Part A. Part A cannot be completed as a standalone course, it will only count towards your program once you have successfully completed Part B.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of the course students will be able to:

1. Communicate why complex problems are complex.

2. Plan, develop and report on a project investigating a particular complex challenge, and communicate outcomes.

3. Articulate the skills required for transdisciplinary work and employability in science.


  • Identify complex problems and define why they are complex
  • Plan and undertake a practical project using an evidence-based approach
  • Work as part of a transdisciplinary team
  • Refine scientific writing skills
  • Communicate research findings to lay and scientific audiences
  • Reflect on the skill required for transdisciplinary science work
  • Communicate your science and transferrable skills
  • Ensure that your scientific practice is ethical, responds to the contributors to complexity and contributes to improving the sustainable development goals


Students must have successfully completed or be concurrently enrolled in SCIE3001A to enrol in this course.

Assessment items

Report: Report

Professional Task: Multi-media communication task

Written Assignment: Portfolio of experience

Compulsory Requirements

In order to pass this course, each student must complete ALL of the following compulsory requirements:

General Course Requirements:

  • Workshop: There is a compulsory attendance requirement in this course. - Students must attend 80% of workshop hours.

Contact hours


Online Activity

Face to Face Off Campus 3 hour(s) per Week for Full Term starting in week 1


Face to Face On Campus 2 hour(s) per Week for Full Term starting in week 1

The University of Newcastle acknowledges the traditional custodians of the lands within our footprint areas: Awabakal, Darkinjung, Biripai, Worimi, Wonnarua, and Eora Nations. We also pay respect to the wisdom of our Elders past and present.