• Offered by Research School of Physics
  • ANU College ANU Joint Colleges of Science
  • Course subject Physics
  • Areas of interest Physics, Earth Physics
  • Academic career PGRD
  • Course convener
    • Prof Hrvoje Tkalcic
    • Prof Louis Moresi
  • Mode of delivery In Person
  • Co-taught Course
  • Offered in Second Semester 2024
    See Future Offerings

The course is an introduction to physics of the solid Earth intended for students with substantial background in physics and mathematics including calculus. The course will provide an overview of the structure and evolution of the Earth as a dynamic planet within our solar system. Physical principles will be applied to the following topics: theory of elasticity and elastic wave propagation; modern global seismology as a probe of the Earth's internal structure; earthquakes and the description of seismic sources; a simple but fundamental theory of thermal convection; the distinctive rheological behaviour of the upper mantle and its top layer, controlled by significant changes in the mechanical properties of the material, will then be explored to arrive at a comprehensive description of what forces drive and resist global plate motions.

This course is co-taught with undergraduate students but assessed separately.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

  1. Demonstrate an advanced understanding of the theoretical basis for modern global seismology and of the application of methods based on such theory to understand earthquake phenomena and the seismological probing of earth structure.
  2. Demonstrate an advanced understanding of the structure and governing dynamics of the mantle and the lithosphere.
  3. Demonstrate an advanced ability in written and oral scientific communication.

Indicative Assessment

  1. Examination (20) [LO 1,2,3]
  2. Homework assignments (20) [LO 1,2,3]
  3. Lab assignments (20) [LO 1,2,3]
  4. Oral presentations (20) [LO 1,2,3]
  5. Selected topic literature review and presentation (20) [LO 1,2,3]

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.


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, 1 x 1 hour tutorial per week and 4 x 3 hour lab sessions throughout the semester.

• Approximately 70 hours of self directed study which will include preparation for lectures and other assessment tasks. 

Inherent Requirements

to be determined

Requisite and Incompatibility

You are not able to enrol in this course if you have previously completed PHYS3070 or PHYS4070.

Prescribed Texts


Preliminary Reading

  • Bolt, B. (2004) Earthquakes, Freeman & Co. (QE534.3 .B65 2004)
  • Shearer, P.M. (1999) Introduction to Seismology, Cambridge University Press (QE534.2 .S455 1999) - available online as a pdf
  • Davies, G. F. (1999) Dynamic Earth, Cambridge University Press (QE509.4 .D38 1999)
  • Poirier, J.P. (1991) Introduction to the Physics of the Earth's Interior, Cambridge University Press (QE509.P64 1991)
  • Stacey, F.D. (1992) Physics of the Earth, 3rd Edn., Brookfield Press (QC806.S65 1992)
  • Turcotte, D.L. & Schubert, G. (2002) Geodynamics 2nd Edn, Cambridge University Press, (QE501.T83 2002) 

Assumed Knowledge

MATH1013, MATH1014 MATH1115, MATH1116, PHYS1201, PHYS1101, PHYS2016 and PHYS2017. Or equivalent


Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.  

Commonwealth Support (CSP) Students
If you 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). More information about your student contribution amount for each course at Fees

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 units

If you are a domestic graduate coursework student with a Domestic Tuition Fee (DTF) place or international student you will be required to pay course tuition fees (see below). Course tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found 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
2024 $4440
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2024 $6360
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
7868 22 Jul 2024 29 Jul 2024 31 Aug 2024 25 Oct 2024 In Person N/A

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