The University of Newcastle, Australia
Available in 2020

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. Students will examine the trade-offs necessary in providing the mix of strategies for energy delivery by outlining the physics and chemistry underlying energy provision, energy storage and environmental effects. They will critically examine material from a variety of sources, including web-based information and government commissioned reports, on contemporary energy options.

Availability2020 Course Timetables


  • Semester 2 - 2020

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. Assess their own use of energy and its impact on the environment

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

6. Apply reasoned judgements on the economic, environmental and technological advantages and disadvantages of different methods of energy production and their role in a global context


•    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

Assumed knowledge

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

Assessment items

Quiz: Online Quizzes

Written Assignment: Essays/Written Assignments

Written Assignment: Written Assessments

Contact hours


Online Activity

Online 1 hour(s) per Week for Full Term

As a WEB based course there are no formal contact hours. Students are however expected to participate in on-line discussions on blackboard. Overall, students should spend about 10 hours per week on this course.