The University of Newcastle, Australia
Available in 2019

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 Physical Geography.

Availability2019 Course Timetables


  • Semester 1 - 2019

Learning outcomes

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

1. a foundation for further studies in the Environmental Geosciences (Environmental Science, Geology, Physical Geography);

2. received a basic theoretical introduction to the major themes in Earth System Science: Geosphere, Hydrosphere, Atmosphere and Biosphere;

3. developed practical skills in: manipulation & interpretation of scientific data; development of interpretive skills in space/time relationships, map and aerial photograph interpretation; basic field observation, interpretation and note-taking; selected laboratory analyses; use of computer statistical packages for data analysis and presentation.


  1. The course examines the evolution and dynamics of Earth and the environment, covering topics that are grouped under the term Earth Systems Science. Topics are broadly categorized into the major themes of Geosphere, Hydrosphere, Atmosphere, and Biosphere. These themes illustrate the dynamic and evolutionary nature of our planet and the breadth of the science.

  1. An emphasis is placed on the development of concepts from observations made on our environment and by using modern processes to understand past environments. Specific topics include:
  • Planetary Geology
  • Earth formation & evolution
  • Evolution of the atmosphere, hydrosphere, biosphere and life
  • Relative & absolute time
  • Plate tectonics
  • Oceanography and coastal processes
  • Mountain building & continental growth
  • Weathering of the continents: fluvial (river), glacial & aeolian (desert) environments
  • Climatic systems and the impact of climatic change
  • Biogeography.

Assessment items

Formal Examination: Formal Examination

Report: Practical reports

Report: Excursion report

Compulsory Requirements

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

General Course Requirements:

  • 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 weekends 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 Full Term


Face to Face On Campus 3 hour(s) per Week for Full Term