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Unit Overview


This unit provides an integrated approach to the study of Earth surface processes in the context of geomorphology and soil science. In field, practical and lecture classes the unit covers fluvial and aeolian geomorphology; the impact of global and local environmental change on Earth surface processes and soils; pedology and pedogenesis; an introduction to the cycling of water and nutrients in soils; geotechnical hazards; and desertification and salinity. It addresses the consequences of soil and landscape properties for environmental management, and land uses such as agriculture, horticulture, habitation and infrastructure.

6 points
Details for undergraduate courses
  • Level 2 elective

Students are able to (1) understand the dynamics and formation of terrestrial landscapes and soils and the influence of climate, geology, etc; (2) relate observable soil and landscape properties and attributes to their genesis; (3) understand the basics of physical, chemical and biological function in soils and landscapes, including soil biogeochemical cycles; (4) use qualitative landscape classifications and models to describe landforms and interpret spatial soil distribution; and (5) describe and understand the effects of natural and anthropogenic environmental change on the properties and functioning of landscapes and soils.


Indicative assessments in this unit are as follows: (1) research topic report (essay) (10 per cent); (2) practical exercises (30 per cent); (3) mid-semester progress evaluation (5 per cent); (4) end-semester progress evaluation (5 per cent); and (5) final examination (50 per cent). 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 Andrew Rate and Dr Karl-Heinz Wyrwoll
Unit rules
EART1105 The Dynamic Planet
or BIOL1131 Plant and Animal Biology
EART2220 Earth Surface Processes and Landforms
and EART2230 Soil Science Essentials
Contact hours
lectures: 2 hours per week
labs: 3 hours per week
field trip: 1 day. Practical classes and/or field work begin in week 2. There is a field trip on or around the second Saturday in April.

Summerfield, M. A. Global Geomorphology: an Introduction to the Study of Landforms: Longman Scientific & Technical 1991

White, R. E. Principles and Practice of Soil Science: the Soil as a Natural Resource, 3rd edn: Blackwell Scientific Publications 1997

There are no compulsory texts for this unit.


  • 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.