• Class Number 3393
  • Term Code 3130
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • Prof John Mavrogenes
    • Prof John Mavrogenes
    • Dr Luigi Renzullo
    • EmPr Stephen Eggins
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 22/02/2021
  • Class End Date 28/05/2021
  • Census Date 31/03/2021
  • Last Date to Enrol 01/03/2021
    • 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:

  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 will be a three day field trip to the Snowy Mountains March 19-21. Students are required to pay a contribution towards of $150 towards the cost of the trip.

Payment may be made online at ScienceShop: http://scienceshop.anu.edu.au/

Recommended student system requirements 

ANU courses commonly use a number of online resources and activities including:

  • video material, similar to YouTube, for lectures and other instruction
  • two-way video conferencing for interactive learning
  • email and other messaging tools for communication
  • interactive web apps for formative and collaborative activities
  • print and photo/scan for handwritten work
  • home-based assessment.

To fully participate in ANU learning, students need:

  • A computer or laptop. Mobile devices may work well but in some situations a computer/laptop may be more appropriate.
  • Webcam
  • Speakers and a microphone (e.g. headset)
  • Reliable, stable internet connection. Broadband recommended. If using a mobile network or wi-fi then check performance is adequate.
  • Suitable location with minimal interruptions and adequate privacy for classes and assessments.
  • Printing, and photo/scanning equipment

For more information please see https://www.anu.edu.au/students/systems/recommended-student-system-requirements

Staff Feedback

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

  • online quizes will be marked and returned within a week.
  • Informal verbal feedback will be given in tutorial and practical sessions.
  • written feedback on the Kosciusko field trip report and presentation will be handed back after the mid-term break. This will include a mark and comments of quality of observations and presentation with suggestions for improvement in future.
  • Informal kahoot quizes will be utilised throughout the semester to provide instant feedback on comprehension.

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.

Other Information

An online practical and tutorial will be scheduled for remote participants.

Class Schedule

Week/Session Summary of Activities Assessment
1 The Geosphere Lecturer: John Mavrogenes Week 1: Lectures: Introduction and Plate Tectonics Practical: Plate Tectonics & Earth's Interior Week 2: Lectures: Melting the Earth and Volcanoes Practical: Igneous Minerals & Rock ID Week 3: Lectures: Time and The Rock Cycle Practical:Sediments & Sedimentary Rocks Week 4: Lectures: Climate and Weathering Practical: Weathering and Transport Practical Quiz 1: Due March 18 Field trip Written Report due March 28 and Presentation Due April 18 online.
2 The Atmosphere Lecturer: Luigi Renzullo Week 5: Lectures: Solar Radiation and the Atmosphere Practical: Radiation & Energy Week 6: Lectures: Atmospheric Circulation and Moisture & Heat Practical: Atmospheric Water Week 7: Lectures: Climate Indicators and the Water Cycle Practical: Weather Information Practical Quiz 2: Due April 26
3 The hydrosphere Lecturer: Stephen Eggins Week 8: Lectures: Residence Time and Carbon and Hydrologic Cycles Practical: Greenhoue Effect Week 9: Lectures: The Oceans Intro and Thermohaline circulation Practical: Melting Ice and Density Driven Flows Week 10: Lectures: Ocean Surface Circulation and Water Chemistry Practical: Residence Time using salinity Week 11: Lectures: Change of Earth System Through Time Practical: Palaeocene-EoceneThermal Maximum Jigsaw Practical Quiz 3: Due May 23
4 Week 12: Lectures: Earth Resources Through Time Lecturer: John Mavrogenes Practical: Review

Tutorial Registration

Required Tutorial Thursday

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Return of assessment Learning Outcomes
Practical Assignment 1 - Geosphere 10 % 18/03/2021 25/03/2021 1,2,3,4,5,6
Field trip Report and Presentation 20 % 28/03/2021 25/04/2021 1,2,4,6
Practical Assignment 2 - Atmosphere 15 % 26/04/2021 08/05/2021 1,2,5,6
Practical Assignment 3 - Oceans 25 % 23/05/2021 29/05/2021 1,2,3,5
Final Report - Topic to be chosen in consultation with the Convenor 30 % 03/06/2021 01/07/2021 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 Academic Integrity . 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. 


Examinations include three online quizzes. The quizzes will be taken online throughout the course. These exams will test practical learning with examples similar to those given in practicals. Masters students will hand in a report based upon a topic chosen in consultation with the convenor.

Assessment Task 1

Value: 10 %
Due Date: 18/03/2021
Return of Assessment: 25/03/2021
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5,6

Practical Assignment 1 - Geosphere

This quiz tests students understanding of the practical aspects of the first four weeks. this is intended to encourage learning that informs the field trip. This is an online wattle quiz done at students' convenience.

Assessment Task 2

Value: 20 %
Due Date: 28/03/2021
Return of Assessment: 25/04/2021
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,4,6

Field trip Report and Presentation

Students will be required to hand in a written report and a group presentation (podcast or video) on their observations and interpretations made on the Mt Kosciusko Field Trip over the weekend of March 19-21. The format and style of the report and presentation will be covered explicitly in the tutorials before and after the field trip.

Remote participants will complete an alternative assignment.

Assessment Task 3

Value: 15 %
Due Date: 26/04/2021
Return of Assessment: 08/05/2021
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,5,6

Practical Assignment 2 - Atmosphere

This quiz tests students understanding of the practical aspects of the second three weeks. This is an online wattle quiz done at students' convenience.

Assessment Task 4

Value: 25 %
Due Date: 23/05/2021
Return of Assessment: 29/05/2021
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,5

Practical Assignment 3 - Oceans

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

This quiz tests students understanding of the practical aspects of the third section of the course. This is an online wattle quiz done at students' convenience.

Assessment Task 5

Value: 30 %
Due Date: 03/06/2021
Return of Assessment: 01/07/2021
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,5,6

Final Report - Topic to be chosen in consultation with the Convenor

Due date is negotiable.

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

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. Extensions may be granted 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).

Prof John Mavrogenes

Research Interests

Experimental petrology and formation of mineral deposits

Prof John Mavrogenes

Tuesday 09:00 12:00
Tuesday 09:00 12:00
Prof John Mavrogenes

Research Interests

Prof John Mavrogenes

Tuesday 09:00 12:00
Tuesday 09:00 12:00
Dr Luigi Renzullo

Research Interests

Dr Luigi Renzullo

EmPr Stephen Eggins

Research Interests

EmPr Stephen Eggins

Tiah Penny

Research Interests

Tiah Penny

Thursday 09:00 10:30

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