• Class Number 2965
  • Term Code 2930
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • AsPr John Mavrogenes
    • Dr Bradley Opdyke
    • AsPr John Mavrogenes
    • Dr Nicholas Engerer
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 25/02/2019
  • Class End Date 31/05/2019
  • Census Date 31/03/2019
  • Last Date to Enrol 04/03/2019
    • Tiah Penny
SELT Survey Results

This course provides an introduction to Earth Systems Science, a new field of science that investigates how chemical, physical, and biological processes interact to shape and regulate Earth’s environment. If you want to understand the science behind climate change or have been wondering to what extent current global environmental change is being forced by natural processes and human activities, this course is for you.
Students from both science and non-science backgrounds are welcome. In addition, this is a foundation course for students interested in or wanting to pursue earth, marine or water sciences.

‘The Blue Planet’ will build your understanding of how each part of the Earth system - the ocean, land, atmosphere, ice sheets, and Earth’s interior - works and interacts over time. You will learn how energy and matter are transferred around and into/out of the Earth system through the water, carbon, oxygen, nutrient, geologic and solar cycles, and you will be introduced to feedback mechanisms that can amplify or dampen change. A tour of global change through Earth history is used to provide context for understanding the modern Earth, including the scientific evidence for global warming, and for predicting the future path of global warming, ocean acidification and biodiversity loss.

NOTE: Postgraduate students will attend classes with undergraduate students but will be assessed differently.



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. Use an understanding of the important chemical, physical, and biological processes that occur on Earth to explain the processes that drive large-scale environmental change.

2. Critically analyse how the past changes in Earth's environment provide a basis for scientific understanding of human impacts on and interactions with the environment.

3. Critically analyse the interactions between the atmosphere, the land, biology and the oceans and how feedback mechanisms operate within the Earth system.

4. Work constructively both independently and collaboratively.

5. Test hypotheses, design and perform appropriate experiments, collect key observations, critically analyse data and apply quantitative approaches to basic Earth Systems problems.

6. Communicate effectively about Earth Systems Science issues and ideas using language that can be understood by the public and scientists.

Research-Led Teaching

This course will introduce you to real world problems and give you the opportunity to figure out strategies for solving them. Some practical sessions will allow you to create new knowledge that you can then assess. The field trips will provide the means to apply your knowledge from class to nature.

Field Trips

There are two field trips in this class, the first one to Mt Kosciusko and the second to Cavan Station (Wee Jasper).

Additional Course Costs

There is a one off fee of $100 to cover the costs of lab books, the Kosciusko and Cavan Station (Wee Jasper) Field trips.

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 The Geosphere Lecturer: John Mavrogenes Week 1: Lectures: Introduction and Volcanoes Practical: Sea floor Spreading Week 2: Lectures: Climate and Rock Cycles Practical: Understanding Rocks Week 3: Lectures: Maps and Glaciers Practical: Properties of water Week 4: Lectures: Snowball Earth and Mountains/Weather Practical: Rock Cycle and Weathering Practical Quiz: March 22
2 The Atmosphere Lecturer: Nick Engerer Week 5: Lectures: Solar Radiation and the Atmosphere Practical: Radiation & Energy Week 6: Lectures: Atmospheric Circulation and Moisture & Heat Practical: Australia Weather & Climate Data
3 Time Lecturer: Hugh O'Neill Week 7: Lecture: The Time Scale No practical (ANZAC Weekend)
4 The hydrosphere Lecturer: Brad Opdyke Week 8: Lectures: Sedimentary processes Practical: Sediments Week 9: Lectures: The Oceans Practical: Density Driven Flows Week 10: Lectures: Changes in the Earth System Through Time Practical: Residence Time, the Ocean and pH Week 11: Lectures: Introduction to Cycles Practical: Cycles
5 Wrap Up Lecturer: John Mavrogenes Practical: Review Practical Final May 31

Tutorial Registration

Required Tutorial Wednesday

Register for one of:

9:00 - 10:00

10:00 - 11:00

3:00 - 4:00

Start in Week 2

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Return of assessment Learning Outcomes
Early Semester Quiz 10 % 22/03/2019 29/03/2019 1,2,3,4,5,6
Kosciusko Field Trip Report- based on individual and group work 20 % 04/04/2019 24/04/2019 1,2,4,6
Wee Jasper Report Assessment Tasks 15 % 09/05/2019 17/05/2019 1,2,5,6
Practical Exam 25 % 31/05/2019 04/07/2019 1,2,3,5
Final Theory Exam 30 % 06/06/2019 04/07/2019 1,2,3,5,6

* 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.


Students are expected to attend lectures and contribute to discussions. When this is not possible students are expected to listen to the audio recording(s) of all lectures. Students are expected to attend lectures and contribute to discussions. When this is not possible students are expected to listen to the audio recording(s) of all lectures. 


Two practical exams (one after four weeks: a Quiz) and a second practical at the end of semester. The final theory exam will be given during the final exam period and will test the entirety of the course. The quiz and the practical final exam will both be taken in the laboratories where practicals are usually given. These exams will test practical learning with examples similar to those given in practicals.

The date range in the Assessment Summary for the end of semester exam indicates the start of the end of semester exam period and the date official end of semester results are released on ISIS. Please check the ANU final Examination Timetable http://www.anu.edu.au/students/program-administration/assessments-exams/examination-timetable to confirm the date, time and location exam.

Assessment Task 1

Value: 10 %
Due Date: 22/03/2019
Return of Assessment: 29/03/2019
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5,6

Early Semester Quiz

This  tests students understanding of the practical aspects of the first four weeks. this is intended to encourage learning that informs the field trip (10%, LO 1-6)

Assessment Task 2

Value: 20 %
Due Date: 04/04/2019
Return of Assessment: 24/04/2019
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,4,6

Kosciusko Field Trip Report- based on individual and group work

Based on individual and group work

Students will be required to hand in a report on their observations and interpretations made on the Mt Kosciusko Field Trip over the weekend of March 23-24. The format and style of this report will be covered explicitly in the tutorials before and after the field trip.

Assessment Task 3

Value: 15 %
Due Date: 09/05/2019
Return of Assessment: 17/05/2019
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,5,6

Wee Jasper Report Assessment Tasks

Based on lectures, workshops, reading and practicals

Report involving field observation and related questions based on the one day field trip to Wee Jasper (May 4-5).

Assessment Task 4

Value: 25 %
Due Date: 31/05/2019
Return of Assessment: 04/07/2019
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,5

Practical Exam

Exam with short answer and multiple choice questions (25%; LO 1-3, 5, 6)

This exam will test students practical knowledge gained throughout the entire course. It will be held during the last practical session of the semester.

Assessment Task 5

Value: 30 %
Due Date: 06/06/2019
Return of Assessment: 04/07/2019
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,5,6

Final Theory Exam

Please check the ANU official exam timetable to confirm the dates, time and venues.

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is a core part of our culture as a community of scholars. At its heart, academic integrity is about behaving ethically. This means that all members of the community commit to honest and responsible scholarly practice and to upholding these values with respect and fairness. The Australian National University commits to embedding the values of academic integrity in our teaching and learning. We ensure that all members of our community 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 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 University has policies and procedures in place to promote academic integrity and manage academic misconduct. Visit the following Academic honesty & plagiarism website for more information about academic integrity and what the ANU considers academic misconduct. The ANU offers a number of services to assist students with their assignments, examinations, and other learning activities. The Academic Skills and Learning Centre offers a number of workshops and seminars that you may find useful for your studies.

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

  • Late submission not permitted. If submission of assessment tasks without an extension after the due date is not permitted, a mark of 0 will be awarded.

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

Assignments will be returned in person in class.

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.

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).

AsPr John Mavrogenes

Research Interests

Experimental petrology and formation of mineral deposits

AsPr John Mavrogenes

Tuesday 09:00 12:00
Dr Bradley Opdyke

Research Interests

Dr Bradley Opdyke

AsPr John Mavrogenes

Research Interests

AsPr John Mavrogenes

Tuesday 09:00 12:00
Dr Nicholas Engerer

Research Interests

Dr Nicholas Engerer

Tiah Penny

Research Interests

Tiah Penny

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