• Offered by Research School of Physics
  • ANU College ANU Joint Colleges of Science
  • Classification Transitional
  • Course subject Physics
  • Areas of interest Physics
  • Academic career PGRD
  • Course convener
    • Dr Igor Skryabin
  • Mode of delivery In Person
  • Offered in First Semester 2024
    See Future Offerings

In a world with ever increasing energy demands and the limitations now being felt through society due to our dependence on a limited range of energy sources, the necessity for a greater diversity of energy sources is mounting. The aim of this course is to provide the students with a strong understanding of the underlying science behind the generation, transformation and utilisation of energy resources. It will start with topics at a very basic, yet fundamental, level and build upon this knowledge base in an attempt to reinforce basic concepts that are often misunderstood within the wider community. Topics to be covered include: elementary scientific mathematics, the concept of energy, conservation rules, basic thermodynamics and the various forms of energy (Chemical, Heat etc) and their transformation into more usable forms such as electricity.

Experts from within the CPMS/CECS/CMBE will teach the course. After completion of this course students will have sufficient fundamental knowledge of the basic underlying science behind energy systems to make assessments of differing energy options and therefore have an intuitive feel for the accuracy of the scientific details.

Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Understand and be able to apply the basic concepts of: large numbers, logarithms and exponents, scientific graphs and energy units and their conversion in calculations and estimations.
  2. Explain and undertake simple calculations of the basic concepts behind energy, work, power, force, conservation of energy and heat transfer (conduction, convection and radiation) and storage.
  3. Understand the concept of the Carnot cycle and efficiency and be able to use this concept in calculations and apply it to a given energy system.
  4. Describe and explain the differences between the various types of energy (i.e. Chemical, Heat, Gravitational, Electrical, Electromagnetism, Nuclear etc) and through the use of simple calculations understand the uses of these types of energy, their generation and transformation.
  5. Critically analyse a description of an energy related system or proposal, a particular example being the energy usage and loss mechanisms of residential housing.

Indicative Assessment

  1. Examination (30) [LO 1,2,3,4,5]
  2. Tutorials (10) [LO 1,2,3,4,5]
  3. Participation in course’s discussion board (10) [LO 1,2,3,4]
  4. Minor Assignment (10) [LO 4]
  5. Major Assignment (40) [LO 1,2,3,4,5]

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/tutorials per week.

• Approximately 94 hours of self directed study which will include preparation for lectures and other assessment tasks.

Inherent Requirements

To be determined

Prescribed Texts

Given the diversity of textbooks and reading material available that cover this topic area the prescribed textbooks and reading material will be revised over the next 6 months in order to determine the most appropriate material for this course. Factors to be included in this determination include: accuracy, accessibility and relevance of the reading material and cost and availability of any textbooks or reading material.

However, there are at least three textbooks that will suit this course well:

  • Sustainable Energy - without the hot air, David JC Mackay, UIT Cambridge Ltd. (PO Box 145 Cambridge CB4 1GQ England), Web: www.uit.co.uk, 2009, ISBN 978-0-9544529-3-3 (paperback). Free HTML and PDF version: http://www.withouthotair.com/  
  • Energy: Its Use and the Enviroment, 4th Edition, Roger A. Hinrichs and Merlin Kleinbach, Brooks Cole, September 30 2005, ISBN 978-0495010852
  • Energy Systems and Sustainability: power for a sustainable future, Godfrey Boyle, Bob Everett and Janet Ramage, Oxford Uni Press, 2003, ISBN 0-19-926179-2
  • In addition, a suggested text for those students wanting to broaden their understanding is:
  • Sustainable Energy: Choosing Among Options, Jefferson W. Tester, Elisabeth M Drake, Michael J. Driscoll, Michael W. Golay and William A. Peters, The MIT press, 2005, ISBN 0-262-20153-4 


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.

First Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
2881 19 Feb 2024 26 Feb 2024 05 Apr 2024 24 May 2024 In Person N/A

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