Studying online

There are now 2 possible online modes for units:

Units with modes Online timetabled and Online flexible are available for any student to self-enrol and study online.

Click on an offering mode for more details.

Unit Overview


This unit focuses on the dynamic processes influencing Earth's surface environment. Several main themes are explored starting with an overarching introduction to Earth systems. The unit subsequently explores subsystems within the context of Earth's surface environment, for example, how plate tectonics interact with climate, sea level, landmasses and the biosphere. Investigations at both global and local scales emphasise how these subsystems are linked and how humans interact with, and are influenced by, these Earth processes. An understanding of dynamic Earth processes allows an informed evaluation of environmental issues that affect society and the biosphere at all levels.

6 points
(see Timetable)
Semester 1UWA (Perth)Face to face
Semester 1OnlineOnline timetabled
Semester 1AlbanyFace to face
Details for undergraduate courses
  • Level 1 core unit in the Geology; Integrated Earth and Marine Sciences; Marine Science; Geochemistry; Marine Biology; Marine and Coastal Processes major sequences
  • Level 1 option in the Social and Environmental Sustainability major sequence
  • Level 1 elective

Students are able to (1) demonstrate an understanding of the Earth System and its processes at a global scale now, in the past, and in the future; (2) appreciate that the global system has many component systems which are similarly complex, e.g. carbon cycle and the climate system; (3) demonstrate an understanding of the processes and forces that shape the surface of the Earth and result in continuous environmental changes; and (4) analyse environmental issues affecting humans, by understanding Earth systems and processes.


Indicative assessments in this unit are as follows: (1) quizzes; (2) earth science reports; and (3) presentation project. Further information is available in the unit outline.

Student may be offered supplementary assessment in this unit if they meet the eligibility criteria.

Unit Coordinator(s)
Dr Naomi Tucker
Contact hours
lectures: 2 hours per week
workshops: 2 hours per week (for 10 weeks)
Enrolled students can access unit material via the LMS (Learning Management System).

An interactive e-textbook is provided through LMS as part of enrolment in this unit.

Grotzinger, J. and Jordan, T.  Understanding Earth, 7th edn:  W. H. Freeman & Co., 2014


  • The availability of units in Semester 1, 2, etc. was correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change.
  • All students are responsible for identifying when they need assistance to improve their academic learning, research, English language and numeracy skills; seeking out the services and resources available to help them; and applying what they learn. Students are encouraged to register for free online support through GETSmart; to help themselves to the extensive range of resources on UWA's STUDYSmarter website; and to participate in WRITESmart and (ma+hs)Smart drop-ins and workshops.
  • Unit readings, including any essential textbooks, are listed in the unit outline for each unit, one week prior the commencement of study. The unit outline will be available via the LMS and the UWA Handbook one week prior the commencement of study. Reading lists and essential textbooks are subject to change each semester. Information on essential textbooks will also be made available on the Essential Textbooks. This website is updated regularly in the lead up to semester so content may change. It is recommended that students purchase essential textbooks for convenience due to the frequency with which they will be required during the unit. A limited number of textbooks will be made available from the Library in print and will also be made available online wherever possible. Essential textbooks can be purchased from the commercial vendors to secure the best deal. The Student Guild can provide assistance on where to purchase books if required. Books can be purchased second hand at the Guild Secondhand bookshop (second floor, Guild Village), which is located on campus.
  • Contact hours provide an indication of the type and extent of in-class activities this unit may contain. The total amount of student work (including contact hours, assessment time, and self-study) will approximate 150 hours per 6 credit points.