Students in this unit should read this unit outline carefully at the start of the semester. It contains important information about this unit. If anything in it is unclear, please consult one of the teaching staff in the unit.
UNIT DESCRIPTION- ENVS266 3cp
Understanding how and why the Earth's surface looks and changes in the way it does is fundamental to effective environmental management. This unit examines earth surface processes from a catchment perspective: hill slopes and soils; rivers and floodplains. We draw on Australian and overseas examples from diverse environments to demonstrate how biophysical processes shape our landscape. Students gain practical, laboratory and field based skills that help them interpret the landscape. These are taught in both on campus sessions and weekend field trips. This unit builds on themes introduced in ENVS117 Biophysical Environments and GEOS112 The Planet Earth, and provides a sound conceptual background for students continuing in Environmental Sciences, Environmental Management and programs in ecology, biology, geology and archaeology.
AIMS AND SCOPE
Welcome to ENVS266 Earth Surface Processes. ENVS266 aims to present a unified picture of processes, materials and forms occurring at the surface of the earth. That means how and why the earth's surface looks and behaves as it does and includes the soils, sediments and landforms as well as the processes important to them. Given its antiquity, along with its geographic, tectonic and climatic character, Australia has a distinctive and diverse landscape. The unit therefore draws unashamedly on Australian, and often local, examples which have immediate relevance to Australian environmental problems. The principles and ideas, however, are certainly global and possibly universal (at least applying to the solar system). We aim to give you the 'tools' to understand landscape processes no matter where you are. Time constraints prevent coverage of all aspects of geomorphic enquiry. Emphasis is placed on soil materials, slope, river and coastal environments, although the arid interior of Australia and other exotic places are also examined briefly and the role of human activities is examined. Connections between various aspects of the landscape will be stressed, aiming to provide an integrative perspective on surface processes.
ENVS266 AND THE ENVIRONMENTAL EARTH SCIENCE MAJOR AT MACQUARIE
ENVS266 is the core 200-level unit in Environmental Earth Science and is the main prerequisite for the 300-level units ENVS338 (Environmental Quality and Assessment), ENVS339 (Fluvial Geomorphology and River Management), ENVS340 (Environmental Change) and ENVS341 (Advanced Environmental Earth Science) which comprise the Environmental Earth Science major.
Environmental Earth Science describes the study of the earth’s surface, the diverse physical processes found there and the connections between them. As the name suggests, it lies at the nexus between earth systems and biological systems – it is often concerned with landscapes and the landforms, sediments and soils within them but also, and crucially, the interaction of plants and animals in directing processes and shaping habitat. Environmental Earth Science combines aspects of Geomorphology, Soil Science, Natural Hazards, Environmental Management and Ecology. As a consequence, graduates gain skills essential for management of natural resources, including rural rivers and lands, and highly altered landscapes, including urban environments and mining areas.
Graduates of the Environmental Earth Science program are in a wide range of workplaces including: environmental and geotechnical consultancies, local government (environmental officers), state government departments (Infrastructure, Planning and Natural Resources; Environment and Conservation), National Parks and Wildlife Service, Sydney Water, mining companies (environmental officers), teaching (primary and secondary) and research.
Environmental Earth Science is offered as a major within the Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Environment. It is also suitable as a component of other specialised programs, including Environmental Management, SIS, Climate Science, Ecology and Environmental Geology. Depending on your own goals you may decide to combine Environmental Earth Science units with other fields e.g. geology, atmospheric science, biology, Spatial Information Science (SIS).
Second year is usually the time you will need to make a decision about your goals and your academic program. Please feel free to discuss your program with any of the staff in the unit at any time during the semester.
You can also find more information about the Environmental Earth Science program and units of study at: