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Lismore
National Marine Science Centre Coffs Harbour
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Unit Summary

Unit type

UG Coursework Unit

Credit points

12

Unit aim

Introduces the formation of the earth over geological time and the complex interacting systems that provide a basis for life on earth, including the lithosphere, hydrosphere and atmosphere. Considers the recent changes induced by human activities and impacts on a global scale.

Unit content

1. The Earth: The solar system and formation of the earth. Earth materials, minerals, rocks, inorganic and organic material, and geologic time.

2. Geosphere: Earth’s interior, plate tectonics, continents and shaping of terrestrial systems. Earthquakes, volcanoes. The rock cycle, weathering, erosion, deposition, and geologic records.

3. Oceans: Shaping of the ocean and the coastlines from plate tectonics, currents and waves. Deposition of sediments from terrestrial run-off and carbonate systems.

4. Hydrosphere: Hydrological cycle, ocean, seas, rivers, streams, lakes, ice, glaciers, groundwater and the atmosphere. 

5. Atmosphere: Weather patterns and the influence from climate change, El Nino, La Nina cycle and the impacts of atmospheric cycles on ocean and terrestrial systems.

6. Anthropocene: The role human influence on climate, sea level, land formations, and the ocean. Influences of anthropogenic activities on the nutrient cycling and pollutants from terrestrial areas to the ocean including plastics, nutrients, pesticides, radioactive material and metals.

Learning outcomes

Unit Learning Outcomes express learning achievement in terms of what a student should know, understand and be able to do on completion of a unit. These outcomes are aligned with the graduate attributes. The unit learning outcomes and graduate attributes are also the basis of evaluating prior learning.

On completion of this unit, students should be able to:
1 Describe the key attributes of major interacting Earth systems, including the atmosphere, hydrosphere, geosphere and biosphere.
2 Demonstrate an understanding of important earth system cycles.
3 Apply critical scientific thinking to describe how the Earth systems interact across different scales in space and time.
4 Reflect on how humans have influenced the current and future functioning of the Earth systems.

On completion of this unit, students should be able to:

  1. Describe the key attributes of major interacting Earth systems, including the atmosphere, hydrosphere, geosphere and biosphere.
  2. Demonstrate an understanding of important earth system cycles.
  3. Apply critical scientific thinking to describe how the Earth systems interact across different scales in space and time.
  4. Reflect on how humans have influenced the current and future functioning of the Earth systems.

Prescribed texts

  • Brian J. Skinner and Barbara Murck, 2011, The Blue Planet: An Introduction to Earth System Science, 3rd, JOHN WILEY & SONS, INC., United States of America. ISBN: 978-0-470-55648-1.
Prescribed texts may change in future teaching periods.