Environmental sciences & climate

Blue sky above a valley

At UNSW Science, we lead the world in environmental research.

We’re a global research leader in climate change, environmental policy and natural resource management. We explore how environments function and how systems, from the smallest microbes to the whole of earth, cope with change.

Our research strengths

UNSW scientists are dedicated to understanding how our planet works as a system. We’re global research leaders in areas such as climate change, environmental policy and natural resource management. 

Our expertise lies at the interface of the urban and the natural, where the wilderness meets our built environment. These interfaces are manifold, on land and at sea. We’ve +40 years of ecological records at one of Australia’s only arid zone research stations, Fowlers Gap, being restored to its natural state after more than 150 years in agricultural use. And, along the coastlines, our expertise extends to the study of coral formations and rock platforms, studied for their unique strengths – and vulnerabilities – to the encroachment of human endeavours and warmer temperatures. 

Our work on the oceans and atmosphere is driven by the Climate Change Research Centre (CCRC). Directed by Professor Katrin Meissner, the centre is multi-disciplinary and one of the largest of its kind in Australia. By integrating research from the domains of atmospheric, physical geographic, and oceanographic science, the CCRC is building a penetrating understanding for our global and regional atmosphere. 

Research impacts

We’re discovering how ecosystems and species are formed and evolve and how human behaviour affects the planet. Many of our environmental sciences academics provide solutions and advice to government, industry and not-for-profit organisations. 

Environmental sciences can lead to the protection and restoration of some of our most iconic and valuable habitats, including the reintroduction of the platypus to NSW’s Royal National Park after a 50-year absence. 

We’re also developing nature-based solutions where they’re needed most: at the interface between human development and our precious oceans, such as the Living Seawalls project or artificial reefs along the East Australian Current. 


For students interested in environmental sciences & climate, the options for research are manifold, from undergrad opportunities through to postgrad and beyond. 

  • For students with exceptionally high ATARs, research opportunities are available from the very beginning of your degree with the Talented Students Program. The Talented Students Program gives invitations to certain students, matching them with PhD students or Postdocs based on mutual interests, resulting in an advance taste of research life. This program is available from your first year and is by invitation only.

  • A Masters by Research in the field of environmental sciences & climate will develop your knowledge and insight. Building on existing research, you’ll develop a written thesis of original material. The work you do here can also help you apply for a PhD. 

    Degree options include: 

  • By choosing a PhD in environmental sciences & climate, you're choosing to embark on research of your own, bringing your relationship with the natural world to bear and making a difference as you see fit. You'll contribute unique insights towards our natural world, compiling these discoveries into a thesis and presenting your findings to others at seminars, conferences, and – of course – for peer-reviewed publication. 

    PhD options include:

    Perhaps the most crucial step in any PhD is the selection of both study area and supervisor, the academic who will help and guide you to fulfill the potential of your research and thesis.