Dr Nicholas Stevens | UniSC | University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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Dr Nicholas Stevens

PhD Qld.UT, MUrbRegPlan Qld.UT, BBuiltEnv (Landscape Architecture) Qld.UT

  • Senior Lecturer, Urban Design and Town Planning
  • School of Law and Society
+61 7 5459 4453
Office location
D-1.28 / Innovation Centre G.78
Sunshine Coast
Nick Stevens

Dr Nicholas Stevens is a social scientist and urbanist with qualifications and a practical background in horticulture, landscape architecture, town planning and infrastructure development. He is the undergraduate and postgraduate Program Coordinator for Urban Design and Town Planning at UniSC. He is also the Co-Lead of UniSCs Bioclimatic and Sociotechnical Cities Lab (BASC Lab), and the Land Use Planning and Urban Design research theme leader in the Centre for Human Factors and Sociotechnical Systems at the University of the Sunshine Coast.

He has a track record of working with government and industry on research projects focused on the impacts of infrastructure development on wider city systems, including airports, rail, and urban transport corridors. Nicholas is involved in a range of current projects and urban design advisory panels that focus on the design and delivery of urban centres and public open spaces to optimise their adaptive capacity and resilience. In 2018 co-authored an important Human Factors and Ergonomics and Urban Design cross-disciplinary book - Human Factors in Land Use Planning and Urban Design: Methods, Practical Guidance, and Applications.

Nicholas has significant experience in establishing and leading cross-disciplinary international student field trips to explore higher density urban living and infrastructure delivery. He has received Australian federal government funding for study trips to locations such as Guangzhou, China (2015); Hong Kong, China (2016); Bangalore, India (2018); Lucknow India (2019); and in the future Hyderabad, India and Kathmandu, Nepal.

His research and expertise in urbanism have resulted in his identification as an agenda contributor to the World Economic Forum and the Conversation research engagement platforms on the topics of cities as complex systems and the value of exploring them utilising HFE and systems approaches.

More information on Nicholas' research is available at:

Professional memberships

  • Sunshine Coast Council Urban Design Advisory Panel

  • Editorial board of the journal – Human Factors in Manufacturing and Service Industries (Wiley)

  • Planning Institute of Australia
  • Urban Development Institute of Australia


  • Cutting Edge Teaching and Research Category Commendation – National Planning Institute of Australia Awards for Excellence. The Gamification of Planning Education, 2019

  • Cutting Edge Teaching and Research Category Winner – Planning Institute of Australia (Queensland) Awards for Planning Excellence. The Gamification of Planning Education, 2018

  • Overall Winner - Planning Institute of Australia (Queensland) Awards for Planning Excellence. The Gamification of Planning Education, 2018

  • Vice-Chancellor and Presidents Awards - Commendation for Excellence in Engagement 2017

  • Vice-Chancellor and Presidents Awards - Commendation for Excellence in Research (Early Career Researcher)

  • Commonwealth Office for Learning and Teaching (OLT) 2015: In recognition for establishing applied curricula and digital resources which prioritise student access to town planning principles, practice and projects, enabling them to 'plan for great places'.
  • Largest Total Funding Awarded for an ARC Linkage – Project Grant, 2007, Queensland University of Technology (Team based)
  • Award for Outstanding Contribution – Community Practice Unit, 2006, Australian Housing and Research Institute (AHURI) (Individual)

Potential research projects for HDR and Honours students

  • off-road and unsealed road safety
  • human factor methods in land use planning and urban design
  • sensory design of urban environments
  • airport and regional land use planning
  • infill development scenarios for transport corridors
  • 3D visualisation for complex urban systems
  • active transport infrastructure development

Research grants

Project name Investigators Funding body Year Focus
LC13B – Laboratory study of novel level crossing warning light designs Nicholas Stevens, Paul Salmon, Gemma Read, Vanessa Beanland Australian Centre for Rail Innovation (ACRI) 2017 – 2018 The development and testing of warning light configurations to better attract driver attention
A framework to optimise the placement of CCTV infrastructure:  A systems perspective Nicholas Stevens, Paul Salmon, David Lacey, Lynda Fraser Sunshine Coast Council Collaborative Grants Scheme 2017–2018 The project will utilise sociotechnical systems methods to examine the optimal deployment and usage of CCTV within urban settings
Saving lives on loose surface roads:  Making the other 50% of roadway infrastructure safer Nicholas Stevens FABL Researcher Development Program 2017–2018 The aim of this project is to develop a human factors understanding of driver's perceptions and reactions to off-road driving. The research will identify strategies to improve safety on loose surface roadways
From field data to 3D visualisation:  Developing a processing pipeline for students Nicholas Stevens, Javier Leon, Mark Berry USC Commissioned Learning and Teaching Grant Program 2017–2018 This project aims to improve learning outcomes in four courses across the Environmental Science and Regional and Urban Planning programs by developing and evaluating a processing pipeline for students to collect data and create 3D visualisation
Human factors and urban design: Planning for
Nicholas Stevens, Paul Salmon University of the Sunshine Coast, School of
Social Sciences
2014 This project will investigate the contribution
that urban design may make in the delivery of roadway corridors that prioritise
pedestrians and cyclists
Play while you learn spatial planning principles Nicholas Stevens (Lead), Johanna Rosier, Christian Jones, Uwe Terton, Ben Rolfe Exploratory Learning and Teaching Grant, USC 2013–2014 This project will develop a 'serious' game to provide prospective and current students with the skills and attributes to interpret and engage with regional and urban planning
Sustainable urban transport corridors Nicholas Stevens (Lead), Bronwyn Buksh, Dan Koch Queensland Department of Transport and Main
2010–2012 This research has developed a framework to assist multidisciplinary approaches to the planning, design and delivery of transport corridors
Guidelines to engage industry partners in academic research Nicholas Stevens, Douglas Baker (QUT) (Lead) Queensland University of Technology (QUT) Office of Research and Brisbane Airport Corporation. QUT Engagement Innovation Grant 2007–2008 The primary purpose of the Guidelines is to provide a framework that outlines a series of methods to facilitate and consolidate the engagement process for stronger partnerships and improved research outcomes

Research areas

  • sociotechnical systems approaches to land use planning and urban design
  • visualisation of urban design and town planning education
  • airport land use planning and development
  • cities as complex systems
  • sustainable infrastructure development

Teaching areas

  • City and Urban Design
  • Landscape Architecture
  • Land Use Planning and Urban Design Methods
  • Strategic Infrastructure Planning
  • Community Planning
  • Human Factors and Land Use Planning

Program coordinator

Dr Nicholas Stevens' specialist areas of knowledge include airport and regional development, and understanding, evaluating and undertaking urban design and land use planning through complex systems approaches

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