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 investigates the physical basis of the climate system and mechanisms of anthropogenic climate change and variability. Importance is placed on the role of the land surface in the climate system including the carbon cycle, land use change and urbanisation. Processes such as the greenhouse effect, aerosols, the El Nino-Southern Oscillation, climate feedbacks and rapid climate change are examined. Paleo, historical and climate model data are presented and assessed. Likely future climate changes are addressed and option for adaptation and mitigation for human society.

6 points
(see Timetable)
Semester 1UWA (Perth)Face to face
Semester 1AlbanyFace to face
Details for undergraduate courses
  • Level 2 core unit in the Environmental Science; Geographical Sciences; Environmental Science and Management; Marine and Coastal Processes; Environmental Science and Ecology; Geographical and Spatial Science major sequences
  • Level 2 option in the Social and Environmental Sustainability major sequence
  • Level 2 elective

Students are able to (1) know the physical basis of the climate system and mechanisms of anthropogenic climate change and variability; (2) interpret land surface data from measurement of key Australian ecosystems; (3) understand the changes in climate over the past, present and future; (4) communicate climate change and appreciate skepticism; and (5) synthesise the physical understanding of the climate system and feedbacks witihin.


Indicative assessments in this unit are as follows: (1) practical exercise or practical report for each of 5 practical's total to take place approximately one every two weeks, with one in the first two weeks. and (2) a research report based on interpreting land surface data from a key Australian ecosystem. To be written as scientific paper including abstract, introduction, methods, results, discussion and conclusion using real life climate data (2500 words) .. 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)
Professor Jason Beringer
Contact hours
lectures: 2 hours per week
practicals/tutorials: 2 hours per week

Online material including IPCC report.

  • 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.