The CSU Engineering Topic Tree: The First Four Years

Jim Morgan, Euan Lindsay, Colm Howlin, Maartje E.D.Van Den Bogaard

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


The Charles Sturt University (CSU) Engineering programme is a new course (degree programmme) established in 2016 by a university that had not previously taught engineering. This start from scratch occasion was taken as an opportunity to build an all-new programme structure and philosophy. Students at CSU Engineering complete a sequence of three semester-long Project-Based Learning (PBL) style challenges across their time face-to-face at the university; after this point, they commence four yearlong paid industry-based work placements and continue studies in an online mode during evenings, weekends, and scheduled study days. The underlying technical curriculum for the engineering programme at Charles Sturt University is delivered mostly on-line via the RealizeIT platform and is based on a philosophy of just-in-time, self-directed learning. Students have freedom in deciding when, how and, to a large extent, which elements of the curriculum they engage within the online environment. This freedom, along with the PBL-style challenges, is enabled by the structure of the technical curriculum which is broken down into fine-grained learning activities called ‘topics’. In this paper, we summarise our experiences during the first four years, and the insights gained into student behaviours when offered an opportunity to engage in self-directed learning

Original languageEnglish
JournalAdvances in Engineering Education
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We acknowledge the Wiradyuri, Ngunawal, Gundungurra, Ngiyampaa and Biripai (or Biripi) peoples of Australia who are the traditional owners and custodians of the lands on which CSU?s campuses are located and with whom CSU has association and the authors pay respects to their Elders both past and present

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, Advances in Engineering Education.All Rights Reserved.


  • Just-in-time delivery
  • On-line learning
  • Self-directed learning


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