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Unit of study_

GEOL3888: Earth Systems Research Project

Semester 2, 2022 [Normal day] - Camperdown/Darlington, Sydney

The fields of geology and geophysics play a critical role in securing resources for a low-emissions economy. They are equally relevant in assessing the severity and longevity of modern society's impacts on surface environment, involving complex economic, environmental and societal issues. The unit introduces methods involved in imaging and monitoring the Earth, including gravity, magnetic and seismic methods, applied on land, at sea, and from the air, and covers how these can be used, in combination with geological observations and modern data science methods, to explore for critical metals and to monitor surface environments. These approaches can also be used for mapping the deep structure of sedimentary basins and continental margins, important for understanding groundwater dynamics, carbon sequestration and some natural hazards, including earthquakes and tsunamis. Using the geology of Australia as a natural laboratory, this unit of study presents projects ranging from learning how to create digital ore deposit prospectivity maps to projects tackling environmental issues. Organized in multi-disciplinary teams, students will combine geological and geophysical data with machine learning approaches to explore the information content in the data and understand how this approach can be used to solve practical problems.

Unit details and rules

Unit code GEOL3888
Academic unit Geosciences Academic Operations
Credit points 6
GEOS3102 or GEOS3802 or GEOS3003 or GEOS3004 or GEOS3904 or GEOS3006 or GEOS3906 or GEOS3017 or GEOS3917 or GEOS3903
GEOS2X14 and GEOS2X24
Assumed knowledge


Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff

Coordinator Dietmar Muller,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Skills-based evaluation Ore Type Practical
Practical microscope and hand specimen description and identification
10% Week 02 3 hours
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO4
Assignment Gravity and magnetic modelling
Report on using gravity and magnetic data to model basin structure
10% Week 05
Due date: 04 Sep 2022 at 23:59
9 hours
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO3 LO4 LO5
Tutorial quiz Summative quiz of week 1-6 material
Multiple choice and scenario quiz of material covered in weeks 1-6
10% Week 07 1 hour
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO4 LO3 LO2
Presentation Project Formation
Oral presentation of project formation: -Pitch -Demonstration -Lit review
20% Week 09 15-20 minutes
Outcomes assessed: LO6 LO8 LO7
Assignment group assignment Group project
Written report
35% Week 13 Up to 3000 words excluding figs and refs
Outcomes assessed: LO8 LO1 LO5 LO7
Presentation group assignment Project presentation
Oral Presentation of an individual aspect of group project
15% Week 13 15-20 minutes
Outcomes assessed: LO8
group assignment = group assignment ?

Assessment summary

Detailed information for each assessment can be found on Canvas.

Assessment criteria

The University awards common result grades, set out in the Coursework Policy 2014 (Schedule 1).

As a general guide, a high distinction indicates work of an exceptional standard, a distinction a very high standard, a credit a good standard, and a pass an acceptable standard.

Result name

Mark range


High distinction

85 - 100

At HD level, you achieve the unit learning outcomes to an exceptional standard. A ‘High Distinction’ reflects your exceptional ability to apply comprehensive knowledge, analytical, communication, and collaborative skills in diverse contexts to synthesise multiple advanced insights and produce original solutions for highly complex problems.


75 - 84

At D level, you achieve the unit learning outcomes to an excellent standard. A ‘Distinction’ reflects your excellent ability to apply well-developed knowledge, analytical, communication, and collaborative skills in diverse contexts to synthesise multiple insights to produce original solutions for complex problems.


65 - 74

At CR level, you achieve the unit learning outcomes to a good standard. A ‘Credit’ reflects your ability to apply broad knowledge, analytical, communication, and collaborative skills in a variety of contexts to synthesise insights and produce adequate solutions for routine problems.


50 - 64

At PS level, you achieve the unit learning outcomes to a proficient standard. A ‘Pass’ reflects your ability to apply threshold knowledge, analytical, communication, and collaborative skills in some but not all contexts to combine insights and produce basic solutions for routine problems.


0 - 49

When you don’t meet the learning outcomes of the unit to a satisfactory standard.

For more information see

For more information see guide to grades.

Late submission

In accordance with University policy, these penalties apply when written work is submitted after 11:59pm on the due date:

  • Deduction of 5% of the maximum mark for each calendar day after the due date.
  • After ten calendar days late, a mark of zero will be awarded.

This unit has an exception to the standard University policy or supplementary information has been provided by the unit coordinator. This information is displayed below:

All assignments must be submitted by the due date. Students are expected to manage their time and to prioritise tasks to meet deadlines. Assessment items submitted after the due date without an approved extension using a special consideration or special arrangement form or request will incur penalties. If you encounter a problem submitting your work on time, you may be able to arrange a simple extension. A simple extension is an informal arrangement between you and your unit of study coordinator. You may be able to receive an extension of up to two working days for non-examination tasks, as outlined in clause 66A of the Coursework Policy 2014. If you need an extension for a longer period, you may be eligible to apply for special consideration.

Academic integrity

The Current Student website  provides information on academic integrity and the resources available to all students. The University expects students and staff to act ethically and honestly and will treat all allegations of academic integrity breaches seriously.  

We use similarity detection software to detect potential instances of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breach. If such matches indicate evidence of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breaches, your teacher is required to report your work for further investigation.

You may only use artificial intelligence and writing assistance tools in assessment tasks if you are permitted to by your unit coordinator, and if you do use them, you must also acknowledge this in your work, either in a footnote or an acknowledgement section.

Studiosity is permitted for postgraduate units unless otherwise indicated by the unit coordinator. The use of this service must be acknowledged in your submission.

Simple extensions

If you encounter a problem submitting your work on time, you may be able to apply for an extension of five calendar days through a simple extension.  The application process will be different depending on the type of assessment and extensions cannot be granted for some assessment types like exams.

Special consideration

If exceptional circumstances mean you can’t complete an assessment, you need consideration for a longer period of time, or if you have essential commitments which impact your performance in an assessment, you may be eligible for special consideration or special arrangements.

Special consideration applications will not be affected by a simple extension application.

Using AI responsibly

Co-created with students, AI in Education includes lots of helpful examples of how students use generative AI tools to support their learning. It explains how generative AI works, the different tools available and how to use them responsibly and productively.

WK Topic Learning activity Learning outcomes
Week 01 Introduction to Earth systems and critical minerals Lecture (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO4
Recognising ore-forming rocks and minerals Practical (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO4
Week 02 Introduction to Earth systems and critical minerals Lecture (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO4
Recognising ore-forming rocks and minerals Practical (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO4
Week 03 Subsurface imaging using gravity data Lecture (2 hr) LO1 LO3 LO4
Gravity modelling Practical (3 hr) LO3
Week 04 Subsurface imaging using magnetic data Lecture (2 hr) LO1 LO3 LO4
Magnetic modelling Practical (3 hr) LO3
Week 05 Seismic imaging of sedimentary basins and introduction to surface processes Lecture (2 hr) LO2 LO3 LO4
Surface process modelling Practical (3 hr) LO1 LO2
Week 06 Surface process modelling: from clastic sediments to coral reefs Lecture (2 hr) LO1 LO2
Surface process modelling Practical (3 hr) LO1 LO2
Week 07 Group project: minerals/surface environments Project (3 hr) LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8
Week 08 Group project: minerals/surface environments Project (3 hr) LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8
Week 09 Group project: minerals/surface environments Project (3 hr) LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8
Group project: minerals/surface environments Project (3 hr) LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8
Week 10 Group project: minerals/surface environments Project (3 hr) LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8
Week 11 Group project: minerals/surface environments Project (3 hr) LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8
Week 12 Group project: minerals/surface environments Project (3 hr) LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8
Week 13 Group project: minerals/surface environments Presentation (3 hr) LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8

Study commitment

Typically, there is a minimum expectation of 1.5-2 hours of student effort per week per credit point for units of study offered over a full semester. For a 6 credit point unit, this equates to roughly 120-150 hours of student effort in total.

Learning outcomes are what students know, understand and are able to do on completion of a unit of study. They are aligned with the University's graduate qualities and are assessed as part of the curriculum.

At the completion of this unit, you should be able to:

  • LO1. recognize geological phenomena as the products of diverse but interlinked processes operating over a wide range of timescales
  • LO2. develop an understanding of the "Systems" approach to geoscience, which enables effective extrapolation from sparse data sets
  • LO3. employ geophysical data to assess and define geological processes and features that are remote in space and/or time
  • LO4. interrogate diverse data types to effectively characterize geological domains in terms of past or future events for the benefit of society, the environment and the resources industry
  • LO5. apply disciplinary knowledge to solve problems in an interdisciplinary context
  • LO6. create an investigation strategy, explore solutions, discuss approaches and predict outcomes
  • LO7. collaborate with diverse groups and across cultural and disciplinary boundaries to develop solution(s) to the project problems
  • LO8. communicate project outcomes effectively to a broad audience

Graduate qualities

The graduate qualities are the qualities and skills that all University of Sydney graduates must demonstrate on successful completion of an award course. As a future Sydney graduate, the set of qualities have been designed to equip you for the contemporary world.

GQ1 Depth of disciplinary expertise

Deep disciplinary expertise is the ability to integrate and rigorously apply knowledge, understanding and skills of a recognised discipline defined by scholarly activity, as well as familiarity with evolving practice of the discipline.

GQ2 Critical thinking and problem solving

Critical thinking and problem solving are the questioning of ideas, evidence and assumptions in order to propose and evaluate hypotheses or alternative arguments before formulating a conclusion or a solution to an identified problem.

GQ3 Oral and written communication

Effective communication, in both oral and written form, is the clear exchange of meaning in a manner that is appropriate to audience and context.

GQ4 Information and digital literacy

Information and digital literacy is the ability to locate, interpret, evaluate, manage, adapt, integrate, create and convey information using appropriate resources, tools and strategies.

GQ5 Inventiveness

Generating novel ideas and solutions.

GQ6 Cultural competence

Cultural Competence is the ability to actively, ethically, respectfully, and successfully engage across and between cultures. In the Australian context, this includes and celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, knowledge systems, and a mature understanding of contemporary issues.

GQ7 Interdisciplinary effectiveness

Interdisciplinary effectiveness is the integration and synthesis of multiple viewpoints and practices, working effectively across disciplinary boundaries.

GQ8 Integrated professional, ethical, and personal identity

An integrated professional, ethical and personal identity is understanding the interaction between one’s personal and professional selves in an ethical context.

GQ9 Influence

Engaging others in a process, idea or vision.

Outcome map

Learning outcomes Graduate qualities

This section outlines changes made to this unit following staff and student reviews.

Project content has been revised based on 2019 experiences. More web-based options for the project.

Work, health and safety

We are governed by the Work Health and Safety Act 2011, Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011 and Codes of Practice. Penalties for non-compliance have increased. Everyone has a responsibility for health and safety at work. The University’s Work Health and Safety policy explains the responsibilities and expectations of workers and others, and the procedures for managing WHS risks associated with University activities.

General Laboratory Safety Rules

  • No eating or drinking is allowed in any laboratory under any circumstances 
  • A laboratory coat and closed-toe shoes are mandatory 
  • Follow safety instructions in your manual and posted in laboratories 
  • In case of fire, follow instructions posted outside the laboratory door 
  • First aid kits, eye wash and fire extinguishers are located in or immediately outside each laboratory 
  • As a precautionary measure, it is recommended that you have a current tetanus immunisation. This can be obtained from University Health Service:


The University reserves the right to amend units of study or no longer offer certain units, including where there are low enrolment numbers.

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