The UNSW Australian Surface Environments & Landforms (GEOS2721) course studies the geomorphology, sedimentology and pedology of Australia's physical landscapes. The main emphasis in this course will be on the factors and processes acting in modern-day physical environments. You'll study the dynamics of the Earth's surface today and the history of Earth's environments preserved in ancient sedimentary strata.

The course will also cover the formation and evolution of a variety of erosional and depositional landforms such as glaciers and river floodplains. The nature of the sediments and soils formed in different environmental settings will also be considered along with human impacts on the environment such as soil erosion.

Course breakdown

Australian Surface Environments and Landforms is a stage two course for a range of students completing programs such as Earth Science, Environmental Management or Physical Geography.

Theoretical concepts of Earth surface processes will be reinforced by field and laboratory-based work. This enables students to develop skills in describing and interpreting sedimentary environments, landforms, surface deposits and soils.

A three-day field trip (dates to be confirmed but typically at the end of Week 7) provides a critical synthesis of the various course components. You’ll interpret the landscape using their knowledge base and also through the collection and interpretation of data.

By the end of this course, students will have the ability to understand the basic principles that control the formation of different features of the physical landscape. You’ll be able to interpret how these controls determine the mix of processes that shape the physical environment that we can observe today and see preserved in the sediment and rock record. Ultimately, this knowledge can be used to inform effective land management strategies for a variety of Australian environments.

Conditions for enrolment  

It’s recommended that students have taken either Environmental Systems, Processes and Issues (GEOS1701) or Earth and Environmental Science (GEOS1211).

The course is also complementary with the following second-year courses (although there’s no requirement to take them):

What our graduates say

"I highly recommend Australian Surface Environments & Landforms to anyone interested in geography and the outdoors. The lectures and tutorials allowed me to better conceptualise landscape geography and the relationships between different aspects of the physical environment. The field trip down the south coast of NSW was a highlight and provided a unique opportunity to better get to know the peers in my cohort."

Panayiotis Panaretos – UNSW graduate in Advanced Science (Honours)

Find out more

For more information, please contact David Edwards.


T: +61 2 9385 8064