• Class Number 7922
  • Term Code 2960
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • Prof Michael Roderick
    • Callum Shakespeare
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 22/07/2019
  • Class End Date 25/10/2019
  • Census Date 31/08/2019
  • Last Date to Enrol 29/07/2019
SELT Survey Results

Climate change has been identified as one of the biggest challenges facing humankind. The goal of this course is to provide students with the scientific principles and empirical evidence that underpin the modern understanding of anthropogenic climate change. We will develop a quantitative understanding of the fundamental physics (radiation and surface energy balance, dynamics) governing the earth system. We will examine the synthesis of climate observations to discern current global trends and investigate past climates. In particular, we will analyse uncertainties in the current predictions and outline ways in which the scientific community is moving to refine these predictions. Key components of the course will be informed using insights from ongoing research within the ARC Centre of Excellence in Climate System Science.


Honours pathway option (HPO)

Students enrolled in the Honours pathway option (HPO) will be required to do an alternative assignment. The material will be set at a higher conceptual level,  requiring more advanced and extensive research. 

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. Describe the fundamental physics governing the theory of global warming;

2. Describe the historical development of the scientific underpinnings of the theory of global warming;

3. Understand current constraints on (i) our understanding of climate change, (ii) climate observations and (iii) climate models;

4. Desribe and evaluate the uncertainties in climate predictions;

5. Describe and evaluate the accuracy of public statements on climate change in the popular press.

Staff Feedback

Students will be given feedback in the following forms in this course:

  • written comments
  • verbal comments
  • feedback to whole class, groups, individuals, focus group etc

Student Feedback

ANU is committed to the demonstration of educational excellence and regularly seeks feedback from students. Students are encouraged to offer feedback directly to their Course Convener or through their College and Course representatives (if applicable). The feedback given in these surveys is anonymous and provides the Colleges, University Education Committee and Academic Board with opportunities to recognise excellent teaching, and opportunities for improvement. The Surveys and Evaluation website provides more information on student surveys at ANU and reports on the feedback provided on ANU courses.

Class Schedule

Week/Session Summary of Activities Assessment
1 Lecture 1: Introduction to course (MR) Lecture 2: Blackbody radiation (MR) No Lab Tutorial: (MR)
2 Lecture 3: Radiative balance of a planet (MR) Lecture 4: Ice_Albedo Feedback (MR) Lab 0: Introduction to Python (not assessible) Tutorial: (MR)
3 Lecture 5: Ideal Gas (MR) Lecture 6: Atmospheric Thermodynamics (MR) Lab 1: Ice Albedo Feedback (MR) Tutorial: (MR)
4 Lecture 7: Lapse Rates and Stability (MR) Lecture 8: Phase Changes (MR) Lab 2: Atmospheric Soundings (MR) Tutorial: (MR)
5 Lecture 9: Intro. to the Surface Energy Balance (MR) Lecture 10: Surface Energy Balance & The Water Cycle (MR) Lab 3: Surface Energy Balance (MR) Tutorial: (MR)
6 Lecture 11: Climate Sensitivity I (MR) Lecture 12: Climate Sensitivity II (MR) Lab 3: Surface Energy Balance (MR) Tutorial: (MR)
7 Lecture 13: The Greenhouse Effect (MR) Lecture 14: The Ozone Layer and the Stratosphere (MR) No Lab. Time available for Major Assignment Tutorial: (MR) Major Assignment Due: 5pm, Friday 20 September
8 Lecture 15: Geoengineering Lecture 16: Climate Observations Lab 4: Climate Observations (MR) Tutorial: (MR)
9 Monday Lecture:PUBLIC HOLIDAY Lecture 17: Introduction to Climate Models (MR) Lab 4: Climate Observations (MR) Monday Tutorial: PUBLIC HOLIDAY
10 Lecture 18: Latitudinal Variation of Solar Radiation (CS) Lecture 19: Thermal Inertia (CS) Lab 5: ZEBRA (CS) Tutorial: (CS)
11 Lecture 20:Meridional Heat Transport (CS) Lecture 21: Numerical Implementation of Equations (CS) Lab 5: ZEBRA (CS) Tutorial: (CS)
12 Lecture 22: Intro. to Ocean Sea Level (CS) Lecture 23: Intro. to Melting Ice Sheets No Lab. Time available for revision. Tutorial: (CS)

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Return of assessment Learning Outcomes
Computer Labs 35 % 22/07/2019 25/10/2019 1,3
Tutorials 10 % 29/07/2019 01/11/2019 1,2,3,4,5
Major Assignment 20 % 20/09/2019 04/10/2019 3,4,5
Examination 35 % 31/10/2019 28/11/2019 1,2,3,4,5

* If the Due Date and Return of Assessment date are blank, see the Assessment Tab for specific Assessment Task details


ANU has educational policies, procedures and guidelines, which are designed to ensure that staff and students are aware of the University’s academic standards, and implement them. Students are expected to have read the Academic Misconduct Rule before the commencement of their course. Other key policies and guidelines include:

Assessment Requirements

The ANU is using 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. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website. In rare cases where online submission using Turnitin software is not technically possible; or where not using Turnitin software has been justified by the Course Convener and approved by the Associate Dean (Education) on the basis of the teaching model being employed; students shall submit assessment online via ‘Wattle’ outside of Turnitin, or failing that in hard copy, or through a combination of submission methods as approved by the Associate Dean (Education). The submission method is detailed below.

Moderation of Assessment

Marks that are allocated during Semester are to be considered provisional until formalised by the College examiners meeting at the end of each Semester. If appropriate, some moderation of marks might be applied prior to final results being released.


Participation in this course requires as a minimum:

  • attendance at lectures, tutorial and computer labs
  • submission of lab reports, tutorial problem sets and the major assignment
  • examination 

This level of participation can be expected to amount to around 12 hours of work each week.

To take full advantage of this course you will also find it helpful to:

  • read the additional readings before each lecture
  • find and read other material by/about key researchers/authors/issues
  • ask questions during lectures


Please note, that where a date range is used in the Assessment Summary in relation to exams, the due date and return date indicate the approximate timeframe in which the exam will be held and results returned to the student (official end of Semester results released on ISIS). Students should consult the course wattle site and the ANU final examination timetable to confirm the date, time and venue of the exam.

Assessment Task 1

Value: 35 %
Due Date: 22/07/2019
Return of Assessment: 25/10/2019
Learning Outcomes: 1,3

Computer Labs

Computer labs are designed to help you understand climate science using computer models. You will have two lab sessions to complete the exercises and a further week to write a report for each lab. Labs will use the PYTHON language and you are welcome to use your own computer.

The date range for these tasks indicates the approximate due date for the first report, and the approximate return date for the last report. It is intended that the marked reports will be returned within 1 week after submission. Further details can be found on the Course Wattle site.

Assessment Task 2

Value: 10 %
Due Date: 29/07/2019
Return of Assessment: 01/11/2019
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5


Each week we will run a tutorial requiring participation in group discussions and submission of a worksheet. From week 2 the worksheets will be marked and will contribute towards the final grade.

Students are expected to contribute on an on-going basis throughout the semester. The date range for this task comprises the start of the semester and the date final results are published on ISIS.

Assessment Task 3

Value: 20 %
Due Date: 20/09/2019
Return of Assessment: 04/10/2019
Learning Outcomes: 3,4,5

Major Assignment

You will be asked to research and address a question of significance to the public "debate" on climate science in less than 1500 words.

Assessment Task 4

Value: 35 %
Due Date: 31/10/2019
Return of Assessment: 28/11/2019
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5


The final exam (2 hrs) will be held during examination period.

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is a core part of the ANU culture as a community of scholars. At its heart, academic integrity is about behaving ethically, committing to honest and responsible scholarly practice and upholding these values with respect and fairness.

The ANU commits to assisting all members of our community to understand how to engage in academic work in ways that are consistent with, and actively support academic integrity. The ANU expects staff and students to be familiar with the academic integrity principle and Academic Misconduct Rule, uphold high standards of academic integrity and act ethically and honestly, to ensure the quality and value of the qualification that you will graduate with.

The Academic Misconduct Rule is in place to promote academic integrity and manage academic misconduct. Very minor breaches of the academic integrity principle may result in a reduction of marks of up to 10% of the total marks available for the assessment. The ANU offers a number of online and in person services to assist students with their assignments, examinations, and other learning activities. Visit the Academic Skills website for more information about academic integrity, your responsibilities and for assistance with your assignments, writing skills and study.

Online Submission

You will be required to electronically sign a declaration as part of the submission of your assignment. Please keep a copy of the assignment for your records. Unless an exemption has been approved by the Associate Dean (Education) submission must be through Turnitin.

Hardcopy Submission

For some forms of assessment (hand written assignments, art works, laboratory notes, etc.) hard copy submission is appropriate when approved by the Associate Dean (Education). Hard copy submissions must utilise the Assignment Cover Sheet. Please keep a copy of tasks completed for your records.

Late Submission

Individual assessment tasks may or may not allow for late submission. Policy regarding late submission is detailed below:

  • Late submission permitted. Late submission of assessment tasks without an extension are penalised at the rate of 5% of the possible marks available per working day or part thereof. Late submission of assessment tasks is not accepted after 10 working days after the due date, or on or after the date specified in the course outline for the return of the assessment item. Late submission is not accepted for take-home examinations.

Referencing Requirements

Accepted academic practice for referencing sources that you use in presentations can be found via the links on the Wattle site, under the file named “ANU and College Policies, Program Information, Student Support Services and Assessment”. Alternatively, you can seek help through the Students Learning Development website.

Returning Assignments

Assessments will be returned on Wattle.

Extensions and Penalties

Extensions and late submission of assessment pieces are covered by the Student Assessment (Coursework) Policy and Procedure. The Course Convener may grant extensions for assessment pieces that are not examinations or take-home examinations. If you need an extension, you must request an extension in writing on or before the due date. If you have documented and appropriate medical evidence that demonstrates you were not able to request an extension on or before the due date, you may be able to request it after the due date.

Resubmission of Assignments

No resubmission permitted.

Privacy Notice

The ANU has made a number of third party, online, databases available for students to use. Use of each online database is conditional on student end users first agreeing to the database licensor’s terms of service and/or privacy policy. Students should read these carefully. In some cases student end users will be required to register an account with the database licensor and submit personal information, including their: first name; last name; ANU email address; and other information.
In cases where student end users are asked to submit ‘content’ to a database, such as an assignment or short answers, the database licensor may only use the student’s ‘content’ in accordance with the terms of service – including any (copyright) licence the student grants to the database licensor. Any personal information or content a student submits may be stored by the licensor, potentially offshore, and will be used to process the database service in accordance with the licensors terms of service and/or privacy policy.
If any student chooses not to agree to the database licensor’s terms of service or privacy policy, the student will not be able to access and use the database. In these circumstances students should contact their lecturer to enquire about alternative arrangements that are available.

Distribution of grades policy

Academic Quality Assurance Committee monitors the performance of students, including attrition, further study and employment rates and grade distribution, and College reports on quality assurance processes for assessment activities, including alignment with national and international disciplinary and interdisciplinary standards, as well as qualification type learning outcomes.

Since first semester 1994, ANU uses a grading scale for all courses. This grading scale is used by all academic areas of the University.

Support for students

The University offers students support through several different services. You may contact the services listed below directly or seek advice from your Course Convener, Student Administrators, or your College and Course representatives (if applicable).

Prof Michael Roderick
612 50917

Research Interests

Prof Michael Roderick

Callum Shakespeare

Research Interests

Callum Shakespeare

Responsible Officer: Registrar, Student Administration / Page Contact: Website Administrator / Frequently Asked Questions