• Offered by Research School of Earth Sciences
  • ANU College ANU Joint Colleges of Science
  • Course subject Earth and Marine Science
  • Areas of interest Earth and Marine Sciences, Physics, Earth Physics
  • Academic career UGRD
  • Course convener
    • Dr Ross Kerr
  • Mode of delivery In Person
  • Offered in First Semester 2015
    Second Semester 2015
    See Future Offerings

The structure and dynamic processes of the Earth are measured, quantified and understood by utilizing principles and methods from the physical sciences. Core areas of study include seismology, geodynamics, geodesy and geophysical fluid dynamics. A variety of course work from these fields is on offer, in addition to a supervised research project worth 50% of the final mark. The goal of Physics of the Earth Honours is to gain a solid grounding in quantitative analysis of physical processes based on both theory and observation. For example, plate tectonics, in which distinct pieces of the rigid outer shell of the Earth constantly move and interact due to internal heating, manifests in seismic (e.g. earthquakes), geodetic (e.g. GPS displacement) and geodynamic (e.g. crustal deformation) observation. Evidence from these fields of study have been central to gaining a better understanding of convection within the Earth's mantle, and how the continents have shifted and deformed over time. More specifically, coursework will cover seismic wave propagation, earthquake source mechanisms and seismic imaging; fundamental concepts in fluid dynamics and their application to the Earth (e.g. Buoyancy driven flow in the ocean); sea level change and variations in polar ice cap volumes from satellite data; the physical behaviour of minerals and rocks at pressures and temperatures encountered deep within the Earth; and theory and numerical methods for solving geophysical inverse and data inference problems.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

Specific learning outcomes will depend on the nature of the research project. In general, on satisfactory completion of the course students will have:

1. A good understanding of the Earth's structure, from the crust to the core, including basic changes in physical and material properties with depth.
2. Knowledge of the Earth's internal dynamics, and how it manifests in terms of plate tectonics and associated processes.
3. A solid understanding of one or more specialist fields in Earth Physics, including seismology, geodesy, geodynamics, rock physics and geophysical fluid dynamics.
4. Demonstrated an ability to carry out high quality original research.
5. The ability to critically evaluate technical reports and journal articles.
6. The ability to write scientific reports at a standard suitable for publication in international refereed journals.

Indicative Assessment

Assessment will be based on:

  • The completion of a supervised research project and associated thesis on a topic chosen by the student in consultation with a member of academic staff. (50% of total mark; LO 1-6).
  • Coursework comprising at least four 6 unit subjects offered by the university at an appropriate level. These should include but are not limited to Earth Physics courses run at RSES. (50% of total mark; LO 1-6). The method of assessment varies between subjects, but may include sit down exams, take home exams, laboratory reports, assignments and oral presentations.

The ANU uses Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. While the use of Turnitin is not mandatory, the ANU highly recommends Turnitin is used by both teaching staff and students. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website.


This varies depending on the coursework chosen, but a 6 unit course typically has a maximum of 26 hours of lectures, and 20-30 hours of laboratory work and tutorials. In addition up to 65 hours of independent study may be required for each 6 unit course. The research project, which is worth 24 units, will require a commensurate number of hours to complete.

Requisite and Incompatibility

You will need to contact the Research School of Earth Sciences to request a permission code to enrol in this course.

Assumed Knowledge

A solid grounding in some combination of applied maths, physics, geophysics and computing is recommended.



Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.  

If you are a domestic graduate coursework or international student you will be required to pay tuition fees. Tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
12 to 24 units

If you are an undergraduate student and have been offered a Commonwealth supported place, your fees are set by the Australian Government for each course. At ANU 1 EFTSL is 48 units (normally 8 x 6-unit courses). You can find your student contribution amount for each course at Fees.  Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.

12.00 0.25000
13.00 0.27083
14.00 0.29167
15.00 0.31250
16.00 0.33333
17.00 0.35417
18.00 0.37500
19.00 0.39583
20.00 0.41667
21.00 0.43750
22.00 0.45833
23.00 0.47917
24.00 0.50000
Domestic fee paying students
Year Fee
2015 $516 per unit
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2015 $691 per unit
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

ANU utilises MyTimetable to enable students to view the timetable for their enrolled courses, browse, then self-allocate to small teaching activities / tutorials so they can better plan their time. Find out more on the Timetable webpage.

The list of offerings for future years is indicative only.
Class summaries, if available, can be accessed by clicking on the View link for the relevant class number.

First Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
1963 16 Feb 2015 06 Mar 2015 31 Mar 2015 29 May 2015 In Person N/A

Second Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
1918 20 Jul 2015 07 Aug 2015 31 Aug 2015 30 Oct 2015 In Person N/A

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