• 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, Geology
  • Academic career UGRD
  • Course convener
    • Prof Andrew Berry
  • Mode of delivery In Person
  • Co-taught Course
  • Offered in Second Semester 2020
    See Future Offerings

This course includes an on campus activity. Check timetable for details. Contact course convener if you are unable to travel to Canberra.

This course provides an introduction to the key physical and chemical processes that shape our planet.

The main emphasis will be on the fundamental processes that controlled Earth's formation and evolution, and those that currently control mountain building and earthquakes, continental crust formation and volcanoes.

The skills needed to identify minerals and rocks, the building blocks of this planet will be taught through lectures, practicals and field trips. This course is a hands on introduction to all aspects of geology.

A second key aspect will be to explain how Earth scientists extract past climate history from the rock record. The basic skills needed to interpret Earth's ancient history will be taught during practical sessions.

The course will also examine the origin of Earth's surface, its landscapes, climate system, and environments that support life, and how they have developed through Earth's history. Geological time will be explored through introductions to the geochronological tools used to track events through Earth's history.

Some quantitative aspects of the Earth Sciences will also be presented

Honours Pathway Option

Students enrolled in the Honours pathway option (HPO) will be required to do some alternative assessment. 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:

  1. Identify common rocks and minerals
  2. Undertake basic field mapping
  3. Report the history of the Earth and relate it to processes that shape our planet today
  4. Combine field observations with theory learned in class
  5. Apply an understanding of time and space to the evolution of continents and life on Earth
  6. Comprehend the role of geological processes in controlling natural hazards
  7. Unravel changes in past environments from a variety of data and relate this to the potential impacts of future climate change.

Other Information

There will be a 5-day field trip to the South Coast of New South Wales. The field trip is usually run during the first week of the mid-semester break. The cost for this field trip is expected to be $350-$450, of which a $50 is due prior to the trip and the remaining balance due by the end of the semester.

Payments are to be made via Scienceshop

Indicative Assessment

  1. Assessed practicals (30) [LO 1,2,3,4,5]
  2. Field trip assignment (25) [LO 2,3,4]
  3. Theory exam (45) [LO 3,4,5,6,7]

In response to COVID-19: Please note that Semester 2 Class Summary information (available under the classes tab) is as up to date as possible. Changes to Class Summaries not captured by this publication will be available to enrolled students via Wattle. 

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The expected workload will consist of approximately 130 hours throughout the semester including:

  • Face-to face component which may consist of 3 x 1 hour lectures plus 1 x 3 hour practical per week
  • A 5-day field trip (pelase see other information section)
  • Approximately 25 hours of self-study which will include preparation for lectures and other assessment tasks.

Inherent Requirements

In this course, students must typically participate in an approximately 5 day field trip. In order to participate, students must be able to:

  • Travel to the field location and stay in field accommodations such as basic shared cabins or dorm rooms
  • Safely traverse 2-4 km at a moderate pace and short distances (10-500m) over uneven ground
  • Manage an intense workload during the trip, which includes full days working in the field followed by 2-3 hours each evening completing tasks related to the day’s activities

Students who are unable to meet these requirements may be able to negotiate alternative participation and assessment requirements with the course convenor. Please see the trip information page for more information.

Requisite and Incompatibility

Incompatible with EMSC6008

Prescribed Texts


Preliminary Reading

Understanding Earth by Frank Press and Raymond Siever

Assumed Knowledge




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
2020 $4050
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2020 $5760
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.

Second Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
8714 27 Jul 2020 03 Aug 2020 31 Aug 2020 30 Oct 2020 In Person View

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