Available in 2021
Course code



10 units


1000 level

Course handbook


The Earth is an evolving and dynamic planet. Changes that take place and at the rate at which they occur have the potential to dramatically affect the way we live. Understanding past evolutionary changes in the geosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere and biosphere that shape our planet, and the crucial interactions between these systems, is fundamental in predicting the course and impact of future changes. Topics covered provide the necessary grounding for continuing studies in Earth and Environmental Sciences, including Geology and Geography.

Availability2021 Course Timetables


  • Semester 1 - 2021

Learning outcomes

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

1. Explain how theories and concepts on how the earth was formed and has changed over time;

2. Describe the earth systems and interactions, including the four spheres – geosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere and biosphere;

3. Interpret and evaluate data related to earth systems;

4. Observe and record field and laboratory data.


The course examines the evolution and dynamics of the Earth environment, under the concept of Earth Systems Science. Topics are categorised into the major themes of geosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere, and biosphere. Specific topics include:

  • Planetary Geology: Building a habitable planet
  • Earth formation & evolution
  • Evolution of the atmosphere
  • Relative & absolute geological time
  • Plate tectonics
  • Composition, structure and dynamics of the atmosphere
  • Oceanography: Dynamics of the hydrosphere
  • Causes, timescales & impacts of climate change
  • Evolution of the biosphere: Earth hazards, disasters and mass extinctions.

Assessment items

Formal Examination: Formal Examination

Report: Practical reports

Report: Excursion report

In Term Test: Open book practical exam

Compulsory Requirements

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

General Course Requirements:

  • Laboratory: There is a compulsory attendance requirement in this course. - Students must attend 80% of the laboratory classes.
  • Field Study: Induction Requirement - Students must attend and pass the induction requirements before attending these sessions. - In order to participate in this course, students must complete a compulsory fieldwork induction.

Contact hours


Field Study

Face to Face Off Campus 8 hour(s) per Term Full Term

A one-day field trip will be held on a weekend during the semester as part of the practical component. Students will choose one of two days for this field trip.


Face to Face On Campus 3 hour(s) per Week for 8 Weeks


Face to Face On Campus 3 hour(s) per Week for 12 Weeks 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.