• Total units 48 Units
  • Areas of interest Earth and Marine Sciences, Geography, Interdisciplinary Studies - Sustainability, Resource Management and Environmental Science, Policy Studies
  • Major code WASC-MAJ
  • Academic career Undergraduate


Water is a critical issue for the environment in Australia, the Australasian region and many other parts of the world. Effective use and management of water resources will continue to be one of the highest priorities for local, regional and federal authorities due to increased pressure from population growth, agricultural, commercial and industrial growth, and environmental and climate change.The major in Water Science provides students with the opportunity to develop their understanding of water resources, including surface water and groundwater in terrestrial and coastal environments. This is important in understanding interactions between, and impacts on, the hydrosphere, atmosphere, biosphere and lithosphere, all part of Earth Systems. Students completing this major will have the expertise to interpret quantitatively surface and groundwater flow and water quality data, design monitoring programs for water resources and provide the technical results to underpin effective management strategies and policies for the use of water resources.

There are many career opportunities for students that complete this major. Those include positions in catchment management authorities, rural and urban water agencies, state and federal water departments and offices, agricultural organisations, minerals industry and environmental consulting in a wide range of companies. There are also many opportunities in Honours, post-graduate, research and academic positions. In all cases there are excellent opportunities in Australia and overseas.

Learning Outcomes

On completion of the major in Water Science students will have the knowledge and skills to:
  1. Understand the distribution, quality and use of water resources in Australia, the Australasian region and the world.
  2. Make quantitative predictions relevant for surface water and groundwater budgets and flow.
  3. Understand the impacts of climate, land use, and agricultural, commercial and industrial activity on the quality of surface water and groundwater, including interactions with biology, atmosphere, regolith and rocks.
  4. Appreciate the difference between observation and interpretation, in order to analyse critically quantitative and qualitative data relevant to water quantity and quality.
  5. Integrate information across a range of scientific and engineering disciplines into comprehensive analysis of water issues.
  6. Communicate effectively through writing scientific and technical reports and oral presentations.
  7. Conduct themselves in a way that reflects professional expectations within the discipline.

Other Information

Advice to Students

 What 1st year courses should you enrol in?  

Students are encouraged in first year to take appropriate foundation courses in mathematics, chemistry, physics, biology earth sciences, environmental science, and/or engineering. This will give students a broader understanding of science and help them decide on the areas they want to study further. Many of the required second-year and third-year courses in this major require one or two first-year courses as pre-requisites, in particular in mathematics, chemistry, biology and physics. Students are advised to consult at least one of the academic conveners of this Water Science major in order to and choose the most appropriate courses/pre-requisites within and outside the major.

Students enrolling in BIOL3208 must undertake the research project in a relevant field of study.

Note for students who commenced studies in 2016 or earlier: The biology major is an additional co-requisite major option for students who commenced in 2016 or earlier.

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Major Requirements

This major requires the completion of 48 units, which must include:

24 units from completion of the following course(s):

Code Title Units
EMSC1006 The Blue Planet: An Introduction to Earth System Science 6
ENVS2020 Water Science 6
ENVS3005 Water Management 6
EMSC3025 Groundwater 6

6 units from completion of the following course(s):

Code Title Units
CHEM1101 Chemistry 1 6
PHYS1001 Foundations of Physics 6
PHYS1101 Physics I 6
MATH1003 Algebra and Calculus Methods 6
MATH1013 Mathematics and Applications 1 6
MATH1115 Advanced Mathematics and Applications 1 6

A minimum of 6 units must come from completion of courses from the following list:

Code Title Units
CHEM2202 Chemical Structure and Reactivity 1 6
EMSC2014 Sedimentology and Stratigraphy 6
EMSC2021 Fundamentals of Climate System Science 6
MATH2305 Applied Mathematics I 6
  BIOL 2113: Invertebrate Zoology
  MATH 2405: Mathematical Methods 1 Hons

A minimum of 6 units must come from completion of courses from the following list:

Code Title Units
EMSC3023 Marine Biogeochemistry 6
EMSC3027 Palaeoclimatology and Climate Change 6
ENVS3004 Land and Catchment Management 6
PHYS3034 Physics of Fluid Flows 6

A maximum of 6 units may come from completion of courses from the following list:

Code Title Units
BIOL3208 Biology Research Project 6
CHEM3060 Research Project in Chemistry 6
EMSC3050 Special Topics 6
ENVS3016 Special Topic 6-12
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