Available in 2022
Course code



10 units


2000 level

Course handbook


Being at the beach is an integral part of Australia's culture, but have you ever wondered how and where the waves come from? Why do some beaches and headlands have great waves for surfing but not others? Through the study of weather and the structure of our coasts, such as beaches and reefs, you will gain an understanding of what makes good surfing waves. The major topics will include an introduction to weather systems and the atmosphere; an introduction to oceans and ocean processes including waves, currents and tides; and how weather and waves combine to generate surf. The course will be structured around online learning modules complemented with both laboratory and field exercises.


Newcastle City Precinct

  • Semester 1 - 2022

Learning outcomes

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

1. Describe and explain the physical properties of the atmosphere and how they drive weather systems.

2. Describe and explain the physical properties of the ocean and the major oceanic processes.

3. Describe and explain how waves are generated, how they behave, and what creates good surfing waves.

4. Collect, analyse, and interpret field data and observations from the coastal zone and use this information to forecast weather and waves.

5. Work effectively as a team in both field and classroom-based situations.

6. Evaluate risks, work safely in, and communicate data generated from both field and laboratory environments.


  • Atmospheric dynamics including energy balance, moisture and cloud development
  • Atmospheric circulation patterns and weather hazards
  • Introductory ocean properties, including ocean current systems and tides
  • Wind generated waves in deep and shallow water and waves for surfing
  • Introduction to coasts including beaches and reefs
  • Weather forecasting and wave models for surf forecasting

Assessment items

Quiz: Quizzes on online learning modules

Report: Field and laboratory reports

Online Learning Activity: Online workbook activities and presentation

Compulsory Requirements

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

General Course Requirements:

  • Computer Lab: There is a compulsory attendance requirement in this course. - Students must attend the entirety of the computer labs.
  • Field Study: There is a compulsory attendance requirement in this course. - Students must attend the entirety of the Field Study.
  • Field Study: Induction Requirement - Students must attend and pass the induction requirements before attending these sessions. - Students must complete a compulsory safety induction prior to undertaking the field study.

Contact hours

Newcastle City Precinct

Computer Lab

Face to Face On Campus 4 hour(s) per Week for 2 Weeks starting in week 5

Computer Labs held in weeks 5 & 12.

Field Study

Face to Face Off Campus 4 hour(s) per Week for 2 Weeks starting in week 3

Field study held in weeks 3 & 9.

Online Activity

Online 3 hour(s) per Week for 12 Weeks starting in week 1


Online 3 hour(s) per Week for 3 Weeks starting in week 6

Tutorials will be held in weeks 6, 10 & 13.

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.