The UNSW Environmental Systems, Processes and Issues (GEOS1701) course introduces you to the physical and biological systems and processes that create the Earth’s natural environments. You’ll gain an appreciation of how we monitor environmental processes and change and analyse course material that provides a broad overview of global physical environments.

A key theme of the course is understanding the nature of physical management issues and how we can sustainably handle these issues for future generations. You’ll explore a range of environmental issues, including climate change and storms, water resources and pollution, flooding, coastal erosion and bushfires. You’ll also examine the processes operating in atmospheric, terrestrial hydrological, coastal and ecological systems.

The concepts introduced and discussed in lectures are reinforced through a unique variety of practical laboratory classes. During the course, you’ll also gain hands-on experience in analysing soil and sediment samples and learn how to use geo-spatial software such as Google Earth and NearMap.

Term offering: Term 2

Course attendance: In person

Level: Undergraduate - First year


  • Biology.
  • Climate science.
  • Earth science.
  • Ecology.
  • Geography.
  • Marine science.

Course code: GEOS1701

Course breakdown

Environmental Systems, Processes and Issues incorporates a range of different disciplines, including physical geography, environmental science, environmental management and biogeography.

The course covers the following major topics:

  • natural environments and management issues
  • climate systems and change
  • landscape evolution and hazards
  • hydrology, river systems and floods
  • coastal processes, landforms and hazards
  • biogeography, biodiversity and ecosystems
  • humans as agents of environmental change
  • field monitoring and measurement.

Conditions for enrolment 

The material and content of this Stage 1 course prepares you for the following second-year courses:

Career opportunities

Environmental science analyses and provides solutions to current environmental challenges including waste management, climate change and pollution. To protect the planet, environmental scientists study, develop and advise on future policies. These policies can be embedded within Government legislation to ensure the survival of flora, fauna and other natural resources. 

At UNSW Science, you can study the Bachelor of Environmental Management or further specialise in this field with our honours program.

Relevant roles

  • Meteorologist 
  • Geologist 
  • Geophysicist 
  • Hydrologist 
  • Ecologist 
  • Environmental scientist
  • Natural resource manager 
  • Marine scientist 
  • Marine biologist 
  • Environmental scientist

What our graduates say

“GEOS1701 was an excellent course in every aspect. The lecturers were engaging, highly knowledgeable and always willing to take the time to answer anyone’s questions. Lab classes were a perfect mixture of theory and hands-on/practical activities, with many opportunities to get your hands dirty (literally). The field trip provided a great opportunity to apply the theoretical principles we learned in lectures to real world systems. Perhaps the course’s greatest strength was its focus on teaching foundational knowledge; the principles and skills I learnt were useful in all of my courses for the rest of my university career. “ 

- Thomas Mesaglio, Bachelor of Advance Science (Honours) with a Major in Ecology

Find out more

For more information, please contact Rob Brander.

E: rbrander@unw.edu.au

T: +61 2 9386 2899