Available in 2022
Course code



10 units


2000 level

Course handbook


The global effects of climate change associated with the reliance on fossil fuels for our energy needs are among some of the most challenging problems facing the world today. In this course, students will develop an understanding of the physical principles behind the greenhouse effect and the observational evidence for its existence. They will investigate the scientific principles relevant to energy and energy resources, including aspects such as thermal, nuclear, solar, wind and hydroelectric power generation. The prospects and challenges for a transition away from fossil fuels will be evaluated. This course is suitable for any student interested knowing more about the science of climate change and the possible routes for a transition to an emissions free energy sector.



  • Semester 2 - 2022

Learning outcomes

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

1. Qualitatively describe and quantitatively analyse energy, power and thermodynamics

2. Apply scientific concepts to describe the greenhouse effect and its impacts on the climate system

3. Describe and perform simple calculations relevant to the generation of electricity, its transmission and storage

4. Compare and contrast the different types of energy sources used for electricity, transport and storage

5. Critically assess and discuss the reporting of energy issues in the media


•    Energy, power and the role of thermodynamics•    The greenhouse effect: science, evidence, models and impacts•    Electricity: generation, transmission and storage•    Fossil fuels for electricity and transport: the challenges for their replacement•    Alternative energies for electricity and transport: nuclear; solar; wind; hydroelectricity; geothermal and hydrogen


This course replaces ENVS2040 and ENVS2001. If you have successfully completed ENVS2040 or ENVS2001, you cannot enrol in this course.

Assumed knowledge

Arithmetic and algebra up to and including logarithmic and exponential functions. Knowledge of calculus is not required.

Assessment items

Formal Examination: Formal Examination

Quiz: Online Quizzes

Online Learning Activity: Online Learning Activity

Written Assignment: Written Assignment

Contact hours


Online Activity

Online 1 hour(s) per Week for Full Term

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.