Earth Sciences Major

Why study Earth Sciences at the University of Newcastle?

The Discipline of Earth Sciences is a vibrant community of academics, researchers, professional staff and students working across all the Earth Sciences including: geology, hydrology, hydrogeology, climate, palaeoclimate, soils, coasts, oceans and natural hazards..

In Earth Sciences we study the interacting systems of the solid Earth, atmosphere, hydrosphere, and biosphere to further our understanding of how the planet has evolved and will continue to evolve through time. An indelible record of the history of the Earth and the physical processes that govern its evolution is accessible through rocks and related Earth materials.

Earth Sciences is quite a broad concept and includes many sub-disciplines. Therefore, Earth Sciences is fundamentally interdisciplinary as Earth Scientists need to also know about fields such as chemistry, physics, maths, environmental science and geography. Therefore, there are crossovers to many other areas of study, some of which are:

  • Archaeology
  • Computer Science
  • Ecology
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Civil Engineering
  • Chemical Engineering
  • Physical Geography
  • Human Geography
  • Materials Science
  • Microbiology
  • Soil Science
  • Water Resources Management

Studies in Earth Sciences will challenge you to think holistically about a variety of topics. You will develop data generation, analysis, modelling and scientific report writing skills to explore unique ways to look at the various physical processes that shape the planet. You will develop a unique ability to work with a variety of multi-dimensional data as well as a capacity to collect your own data in the field and employ it to further our understanding of the Earth.

Students can study Earth Sciences through the following offerings:

Earth Science Major – this gives students the opportunity to develop a deeper understanding of the Earth Sciences. The major allows you to pick from a variety of subjects and build on any interest in surface processes, coastal processes, climate change, geological processes or minerals and energy exploration.  You are welcome to mix and match the various offered topics.

Courses in the Earth Sciences major include theory, laboratory and field-based approaches providing a unique blend of valuable face-to-face time with generous experts, and hands-on engaging outdoor activities.

A Bachelor of Science degree in the Earth Sciences can open up a wide range of career opportunities both in Australia and overseas. As a graduate, you may go on to find employment in areas such as:

  • Energy industries (Coal, Oil & Gas)
  • Water/land resources management (e.g. Hunter Water, DPI-Water)
  • Agriculture
  • Insurance companies
  • Environmental consultancies
  • Geology consultancies
  • Spatial science consultancies
  • Government & Scientific agencies (e.g. BOM, CSIRO, ANSTO, NSW OEH, NSW DPI, MDBA)
  • Military (Army, Airforce)
  • Mineral exploration and mining
  • Schools and universities
  • Science Museums

Geology Major- This major is recognised by mineral industry professional organisations, enabling graduates to work as professional geologists. Geologists discover, develop, and responsibly manage minerals, energy, and other Earth resources. Geological knowledge and understanding underpins our capacity to ensure a sustainable supply of natural resources and the responsible use of these resources.

Courses in the Geology major include theory, laboratory and field-based approaches to learning about rocks and minerals; plate tectonics and the deformation of rocks; earthquakes, volcanoes, landslides and other natural hazards; mapping and the use of natural resources. A Geology major greatly facilitates careers in the energy, resources and environmental sectors.

Water, Climate and Soils Major- The Water, Climate and Soils major will challenge you to think holistically about subjects ranging from spatial science to rivers and coasts, from landscape evolution to climate change and from contaminated land to sustainable use of natural resources. You will develop skills and explore unique ways to look at physical landscapes and the causes and impacts of earth and environmental processes.

A key component of the Water, Climate and Soils major is developing your skills and knowledge in the latest technologies in spatial sciences, such as global positioning, geographic information systems (GIS) and remote sensing (drones and Earth observation satellites).

Fieldwork is also an important integral part of the Water, Climate and Soils major, providing practical experience that takes advantage of the superb coastal landscapes and rivers and catchments of Australia.

Other things you will study in the Water, Climate and Soils major include:

  • Climate variability and change – from the palaeoclimate (from present day back 1000s of years) to modern anthropogenic climate and environmental changes
  • Sustainability and management of water, food, land, energy and human water resources
  • Hydroclimatic modelling
  • Soil and landscape modelling
  • Quantifying and managing the risk of natural hazards (e.g. flood, drought, bushfire)
  • Fluvial geomorphology and river management
  • Coastal processes and management
  • Contaminated land assessment and soil remediation
  • Collecting, managing, analysing large datasets
  • Scientific reporting and communication/information sharing between scientists, end users, and decision makers

An Earth Science Elective Pathway is also available to students to give an introduction to Earth Sciences.

A Business Scientist or Regulator Scientist elective pathway would complement a major from Earth Sciences, allowing students to tackle societal questions arising from business and/or legal matters associated with environmental or geological enterprises.