The UNSW Earth’s Systems and Sustainability (GEOS2291) course provides students with core background knowledge on how the atmosphere, hydrosphere, biosphere and geosphere (Earth’s systems) are interconnected. During this course, you’ll learn how to measure the chemistry of air and water and quantify how the chemistry of these fluids change as they flow through the landscape. These skills are needed to improve our knowledge about the interconnections between Earth’s systems and to quantify the impact of human developments. To support the energy, food and material needs of modern societies, humans have had an impact on almost all ecosystems on Earth. We’ve altered the flow of rivers, cleared vast areas of land for agriculture, mined coal and extracted oil and gas. We’ve also mined many minerals to build our cities and support our lifestyles. Humans have extensively altered the chemistry of the atmosphere. This course teaches you how to measure the impacts of current and proposed human activities and how to collect the data required to sustainably manage our Earth. 

Term offering: Term 1

Course attendance: 

  • In person.
  • Online.

Course level: Undergraduate - Second Year

Course code: GEOS2291

Course breakdown

The course develops your skills in the following areas: 

  • measuring water chemistry and fluxes 
  • measuring air chemistry and mapping sources of greenhouse gases and sinks 
  • analysing spatial and temporal data 
  • report writing 
  • ecosystem characterisation 
  • quantifying human impacts on urban environments and natural ecosystems.

Conditions for enrolment

Although there are no strict pre-requisites or conditions for enrolment, this course is designed for second-year students.

Career opportunities

Environmental careers are often multidisciplinary and require knowledge from many fields of study including atmospheric science, geology, hydrogeology, microbiology and ecology. Professionals need a comprehensive knowledge of natural environmental processes and the impacts humans have on Earth’s systems.   

The careers of environmental consultants and scientists focus on measuring environmental conditions and processes. They quantify the impact of human activities and developing solutions to enable sustainable societies and ecosystems.

This course will prepare you for careers in: 

  • environmental consulting 
  • land and water management 
  • agriculture 
  • contaminated land remediation 
  • greenhouse gas monitoring  
  • carbon accounting and carbon offsetting 
  • environmental research 

UNSW graduates work for consulting companies, State and Federal Government departments and in research careers in universities worldwide. 

What our graduates say

“Earth’s Interconnections was an integral part of my undergraduate degree in the Earth Sciences – I cannot recommend it highly enough. It taught me the knowledge and skills needed to tackle important topics in the interlinking fields of hydrology, biogeochemistry and atmospheric sciences. It was a key reason I later chose to undertake a PhD at UNSW.”  

 - Stephen Harris, PhD in Geochemistry 

Find out more

For more information, please contact Bryce Kelly.

E: bryce.kelly@unsw.edu.au