• Offered by Physics Education Centre
  • ANU College ANU Joint Colleges of Science
  • Course subject Physics
  • Areas of interest Physics
  • Academic career PGRD
  • Course convener
    • Dr Kial Stewart
  • Mode of delivery In Person
  • Co-taught Course
  • Offered in First Semester 2018
    See Future Offerings

Fluid flows are widespread in nature and everyday life. The study of fluid behaviour is a fundamental and evolving field that spans major areas in science. Consequently, this course is designed to be of interest and relevance for all students majoring in Physics, Engineering, Mathematics, or physical streams of marine or climate science. It aims to establish fundamental physical concepts in fluid dynamics, and to apply these concepts to a range of practical examples. At the conclusion of this course students will have an appreciation of a wide variety of fluid phenomena, including areas of current research, and the techniques that can be used to investigate and model flow behaviour.

The course begins with an overview of the field of fluid mechanics, and description of the physics governing fluid flow.  These physical principles are applied to a number of examples, including free-surface flows, aerodynamics, stratified flows and gravity waves, convection and heat transfer, and fluid instability.  The course includes the dynamics of buoyancy-driven flows, and the effects of planetary rotation, allowing investigation into the circulation of the oceans and the atmosphere.  The physics of the greenhouse effect and ocean-atmosphere coupling, which lead to climate dynamics, are also included.

A course highlight is a series of experiments in the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory.

Learning Outcomes

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

On satisfying the requirements of this course, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

1. Demonstrate an advanced understanding of a wide range of fluid flows, in terms of the fundamental physical principles and equations that govern them.

2. Demonstrate an advanced understanding of how common theoretical, laboratory and numerical techniques can be used to investigate fluid flows.

3. Demonstrate an advanced ability in applying fluid dynamics concepts in geophysical, environmental, physics and engineering contexts.

4. Demonstrate advanced problem-solving and physical modelling ability for a wide range of fluid flows.

5. Demonstrate an advanced ability in technical scientific writing.

Indicative Assessment

Indicative assessment: Assessment will be based on:

Four or five assignments developing problem-solving, data analysis and modelling skills (20% in total; LO 1-4)

Technical report on four or five laboratory experiments, (40% in total; LO 1-5)
Final examination (40%; LO 1-4)

Students in the graduate version of this course will be required to demonstrate an advanced understanding of the material in the assessment items.

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.


A total of 24 lectures, 12 interactive tutorials and 12 hours of laboratory work.

Requisite and Incompatibility

You are not able to enrol in this course if you have previously completed PHYS3034 or PHYS4034.

Assumed Knowledge

PHYS2013 or PHYS2017 or MATH2306 or MATH2405 or similar


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:
6 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.

6.00 0.12500
Domestic fee paying students
Year Fee
2018 $3660
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2018 $5160
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
4082 19 Feb 2018 27 Feb 2018 31 Mar 2018 25 May 2018 In Person N/A

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