• Offered by Physics Education Centre
  • ANU College ANU Joint Colleges of Science
  • Classification Transitional
  • Course subject Physics
  • Academic career Postgraduate
  • Course convener
    • Dr Igor Skryabin
  • Mode of delivery In Person
  • Offered in First Semester 2018
    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 of this course, 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

Assessment will be based on:

  • Examination: 30%, (LO 1–5)
  • Tutorials: 10%, (LO 1–5)
  • Participation in course’s discussion board: 10%.  students will discuss concepts and practical examples relating to the course. (LO 1–4)
  • Minor Assignment: 10%.  (LO 4)
  • Major Assignment: 40%, (LO 1–5)

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.


3  hours of lectures and tutorials  per week.

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:

1. 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/  

2. Energy: Its Use and the Enviroment, 4th Edition, Roger A. Hinrichs and Merlin Kleinbach, Brooks Cole, September 30 2005, ISBN 978-0495010852

3. 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:

1. 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.  

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
Domestic fee paying students
Year Fee
2018 $3660
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2018 $5160
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
3199 19 Feb 2018 27 Feb 2018 31 Mar 2018 25 May 2018 In Person

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