Study with us

Discover the possibilities with our climate change courses, undergraduate and postgraduate degrees, and career pathways.

Students laughing

If you’re interested in learning about climate science and climate change, we offer a range of study options at the Climate Change Research Centre (CCRC). 

For undergraduates, you can explore majors in climate science and individual courses. We also offer a range of honours year projects, many of which may be eligible for an honours scholarship from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate Extremes. You’ll find opportunities to do a PhD within the CCRC, with numerous student research topics.

If you’re an undergraduate student from another school (for example, the School of Physics), you have the ability to do your honours project in climate. Maths and physics are actually ideal majors to prepare you for advanced work in climate and environmental sciences.

Introduction to climate change

Comedian Cam Knight spoke to students during O-Week on behalf of our introduction to climate change course. He wanted to find out how much they care and (and actually know) about climate change, with some interesting and funny results. Thanks to the students who kindly participated.

The online-only course is a good introduction to climate law, climate psychology, electricity generation and climate impacts. Through scientific method and peer review, you’ll explore variations in climate, models and future projections, different energy systems and more. Find out more in the UNSW handbook.

Studying climate science at UNSW

There are many scientific disciplines that study aspects of climate. While the background needed varies substantially depending on the specific area, certain areas of undergraduate training are particularly useful:

  • Physics (mechanics, waves, basic thermodynamics).
  • Maths (multivariate calculus, linear algebra, basic statistics, differential equations).
  • Chemistry, biology (basic or with environmental applications).
  • Environmental Sciences (meteorology, oceanography, or hydrology courses).
  • Computing (data mining, statistical analysis, data visualisation, low level languages).

Some projects in climate science are numerically intensive, for example, applying fluid dynamical theory to the calculation of oceanic and atmospheric flows. Others are centred on analysis of field measurements with a relatively simple theory component. Whatever the focus, all projects benefit from skills in lateral and critical thinking, synthesis, and communication.  

Projects are also available that bridge to social sciences and climate impacts. A strong background in a particular area can set you apart and increase your chances of a research breakthrough. Examples include quantum or statistical mechanics, advanced data analysis, organic chemistry, quantitative ecology and geophysical fluid dynamics.

As a climate student, you’re expected to develop a thorough understanding of your project’s context and master its fundamental principles. This ensures your research provides a solid foundation for your career to flourish over time.

We offer two types of research degrees within the CCRC:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

The PhD degree provides training in research to the level necessary for initiating and carrying out unsupervised original research. Like an MSc degree, the PhD requires you to carry out research on an approved topic under the supervision of a staff member. However, it’s longer and of higher standard than the MSc, and demands a much greater capacity for independence and originality. On completion, research results are incorporated into a thesis which is submitted for examination by experts in the field. 

The PhD usually requires at least three years of full-time study. Part-time PhD candidature is also encouraged but only for candidates who can devote at least 20 hours per week to their research. They must also maintain regular contact with the university.

The opportunity to work with researchers in the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science is a major benefit of taking postgraduate research in the CCRC. The Centre of Excellence comprises five universities, the CSIRO, the Bureau of Meteorology and some of the world's most outstanding international research organisations. Most students are co-supervised across these institutions. There are also opportunities to undertake a joint PhD across two of the Centre of Excellence universities. Visit the Centre of Excellence to find out more.

Applicants who apply for the PhD program would normally have some previous research experience and/or hold an honours or Masters level degree. PhD students in Australia are expected to finish in under four years and normally do little (if any) coursework.

Master of Science by Research

The MSc degree provides basic training in research and is usually completed over two years of full-time enrolment, though can be taken part time. Each candidate is given an individual research topic and carries out research on the topic under the personal supervision of a member of staff within the CCRC. Like a PhD, upon completion, the research results are incorporated into a thesis which is submitted for examination by experts in the field.

Visit the Postgraduate page to find out more.


Discover where a career in climate science can take you. Global demand for graduates of environmentally relevant physical sciences is stronger than ever. Learn about career options and the kind of organisations you might work with.


Explore ways to study climate science as an undergraduate student. You’ll find a variety of degree pathways with options to major or minor in climate science.


To study climate science at postgraduate, you can undertake Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) or Master of Science (MSc). You can read more about what’s involved above. Find out more and learn about our scholarships.

Research topics

As a postgraduate climate student, you can work on areas ranging from ocean dynamics to climate model evaluation. Read about the research projects led by our academics.