The UNSW Coastal Processes and Hazards (GEOS3731) course is a Stage 3 course accessible for all upper-level students. Throughout your study, you’ll be provided with a lecture and field-based study of the physical processes that operate along our coastline.

With over 80% of Australians living along the coast, coastlines are fundamental to our beach lifestyle and tourism industry. However, the world’s coastlines are prone to several types of natural hazards, which can cause loss of human and significant damage to coastal infrastructure. During this course, you’ll study coastal hazards management involving physical and social science approaches.

In this course, a strong emphasis is placed on practical applications related to coastal monitoring techniques, during which you’ll investigate waves, currents and tides. Knowledge of coastal processes over different spatial and temporal scales provides a foundation for understanding the magnitude and frequency of different types of coastal hazards. You’ll also uncover how these processes change over time and shape our beaches.

Term offering: Term 1

Course attendance: In person

Level: Undergraduate - Third year

Discipline: Geography

Course code: GEOS3731

Course breakdown

The course includes assignments that will develop your skills in data collection, analysis, interpretation and presentation, writing ability and public speaking. Under the guidance of an internationally recognised coastal scientist, the course aims to:

  • teach you how to measure and monitor coastal environments and hazards
  • give you an understanding of fundamental coastal geomorphologic principles associated with process-form relationships
  • relate these principles to applied physical coastal hazard management issues
  • provide you with an opportunity to conduct coastal environmental fieldwork.

Conditions for enrolment

Career opportunities

This course provides a solid background of both basic and applied science skills while preparing you for careers in the following areas:

  • coastal science
  • marine science
  • geomorphology
  • coastal hazards
  • coastal management
  • coastal engineering.


You're expected to attend a multi-day field trip to the mid-north coast region of NSW, where you’ll stay at the UNSW Smiths Lake Field Station. There is a cost of approximately $150 to cover transport, accommodation and food.

What our graduates say

Coastal Processes and Hazards (GEOS3731) was one of the most enjoyable courses I’ve ever taken at university as it is taught in a way that is both entertaining and educational. I remember more content from this course than most others. The field trip was an absolute highlight, the perfect combination of work and fun, which generated a real team atmosphere amongst the students. This course has fuelled my love for studying beaches and the ocean and led me to undertaking honours in this area. I would highly recommend it.

- Alva Lane (BSc, Geography), Coastal Processes and Hazards course graduate.

Find out more

For more information, please contact Professor Rob Brander.

E: rbrander@unsw.edu.au

P: +61 2 9385 2899