The UNSW Environmental Change (GEOS3761) course delves into some of the great scientific and archaeological questions about what happened on Earth and why. Past environmental changes provide valuable insights into how our planet works and what this means for the future. Throughout this course, you’ll be provided with a critical understanding of these environmental changes and their impacts.

The course is delivered by a mixture of lectures, practicals and tutorials. The lectures aim to introduce key events from our planet’s history. You'll employ techniques that provide critical insights into how our planet works in the past, present and future. The tutorials and practicals are designed to develop critical thinking and training. You'll explore conceptually difficult or larger issues associated with the course.


Course Breakdown

Imagine a world of wildly escalating temperatures, apocalyptic flooding, devastating storms and catastrophic sea-level rise. This might sound like a prediction for the future or the storyline of a new Hollywood blockbuster but it is something quite different: it’s our past. In a day and age when we’re bombarded with worrying forecasts for the future, it seems hard to believe that such things could come to pass. Yet almost everywhere we turn, the landscape is screaming out that the world is a capricious place. But if we don’t tune in, the message is lost. We need to decipher the past and learn from it.

This course covers the following topics:

  • Global warming and the climate crisis
  • Ice Ages
  • Snowball Earth
  • Megadroughts
  • Megafaunal extinction
  • Fire in Earth system
  • The Great flood
  • Fossil fuels and the carbon cycle
  • Antarctic heatwaves
  • Green deserts
  • Societal collapse on Easter Island


Conditions for Enrolment 

Environmental Change is a Stage 3 course and contributes to the Geography major in the Bachelor of Science (3970), Physical Geography major in the Bachelor of Advanced Science (Honours) (3962) and the Bachelor of Environmental Management (3965).

There are no mandatory activities or field components.    


Career Opportunities

Earth Science takes a complete view of our planet; it pulls together different disciplines to try to get a better understanding of how our world works. Earth science isn’t just interested in what’s below our feet and why it’s there but looks at how geology, the air, oceans, ice and life itself are all connected.

How quickly do melting ice sheets raise sea level? What impact do volcanic eruptions have on the carbon cycle? If the planet’s wind belts get stronger, what happens to the ocean currents and sea ice? Earth science makes links and answers questions that a single discipline struggles to tackle.

At UNSW Science, you can become an expert in this field by specialising in the major: Earth Science.

Relevant Roles

  • Meteorologist 
  • Geologist 
  • Geophysicist 
  • Hydrologist 
  • Ecologist 
  • Environmental Scientist
  • Natural Resource Manager 
  • Marine Scientist 
  • Marine Biologist 
  • Environmental Scientist

It's important to note that this course offers a wide range of key skills and capabilities that you can use in the future, regardless of whether you pursue a career in science or not.

Learn more


What Our Graduates Say 

“What I liked about Environmental Change was how it took the complicated concept of environmental change and explained the forces behind it using really interesting and relevant examples.”

- Priya O’Brien, Bachelor of Advanced Science (Honours), Major in Geography graduate.