• 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, Biology, Geology, Environmental Science
  • Academic career Undergraduate
  • Course convener
  • Mode of delivery In Person
  • Co-taught Course EMSC6107
  • Offered in First Semester 2019
    See Future Offerings

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.


Learning Outcomes

On satisfying the requirements of this course, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

1. Use systems thinking to describe the chemical, physical and biological processes that occur on Earth, and especially those processes that drive large-scale environmental change
2. Explain how the past changes in Earth's environment provide a basis for scientific understanding of human impacts on and interactions with the environment.
3. Describe how the atmosphere, the land, biology and the oceans interact and how feedback mechanisms operate within the Earth system.
4. Work constructively both independently and collaboratively.
5. Test hypotheses and perform appropriate experiments, collect key observations, 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.

Other Information

There will be one one-day field trip. Students are required to pay a contribution towards the cost of the field trip; in 2016 it was $20.

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

Indicative Assessment

Assessment will be based on:

Assessment will be based on:

  • Assessment Tasks - based on lectures, workshops, reading and practicals (49%; LO 1-6)
  • Field report - based on individual and group work (11%; LO 1-6)
  • Quizzes - based on practicals, lectures and workshops (10%, LO 1-6)
  • Exam - exam with short answer and multiple choice questions (30%; LO 1-3, 5, 6)

The ANU uses 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. While the use of Turnitin is not mandatory, the ANU highly recommends Turnitin is used by both teaching staff and students. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website.


65 hours of contact, comprising lectures, practicals, and field excursion

Requisite and Incompatibility

You are not able to enrol in this course if you have previously completed GEOL1006 or EMSC6107.

Prescribed Texts

Readings will be provided on Wattle.

Indicative Reading List

Short Introduction to Climate Change (2012) by Tony Eggleton. Cambridge University Press.




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:
Band 2
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
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings and Dates

The list of offerings for future years is indicative only

First Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery
2962 25 Feb 2019 04 Mar 2019 31 Mar 2019 31 May 2019 In Person

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