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Unit of study_

GEOS1901: Earth, Environment and Society Advanced

Semester 1, 2021 [Normal day] - Camperdown/Darlington, Sydney

Advanced students will complete the same core lecture material as for GEOS1001, but will be required to carry out more challenging practical assignments.

Unit details and rules

Unit code GEOS1901
Academic unit Geosciences Academic Operations
Credit points 6
GEOS1001 or GEOG1001 or GEOG1002 or GEOL1001 or GEOL1002 or GEOL1902 or ENSY1001
Assumed knowledge

(ATAR 90 or above) or equivalent

Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff

Coordinator Bree Morgan,
Lecturer(s) Damien Field,
Bree Morgan,
Bill Pritchard,
Sabin Zahirovic,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Final exam (Record+) Type B final exam Exam
Multiple choice questions
40% Formal exam period 1 hour
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO6
Presentation group assignment Group presentation
Uploaded oral presentation and slides
20% Week 04
Due date: 26 Mar 2021 at 23:59
10 minutes
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO3 LO5 LO6
Assignment Essay
30% Week 11
Due date: 22 May 2021 at 23:59
2,250 words (incl. references)
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO3 LO4 LO6
Small continuous assessment hurdle task Practical classes
Students will complete and submit weekly practical tasks (weeks 2-4,6-12)
10% Weekly 2 hr/wk in-class, due 72 h post prac
Outcomes assessed: LO2
hurdle task = hurdle task ?
group assignment = group assignment ?
Type B final exam = Type B final exam ?

Assessment summary

  • Group presentation: Topics are posted as the Challenge under Intergrated Earth Systems on Canvas. Students will assign themselves to a preferred topic within their tutorial, with a limit of 6 students per topic. Detailed instructions for how to do this are on Canvas.
  • Essay: Advance students will develop their own essay question with mentorship from one of the unit lecturers.
  • Final exam: The exam will comprise multiple choice questions. All material covered in class is subject to examination. We do not provide past exam papers.
  • Practical classes: Weekly tasks will be submitted 72 hr following the start of weekly practical classes. No submission in weeks 1, 5 and 13. 

Detailed information for each assessment can be found in the Canvas site for this unit.


Assessment criteria

Group presentation

Result name

Mark range


High distinction

85 - 100

You display exceptional abilities in providing a coherent response to your question. The outline and purpose of your presentation is clearly outlined. Slides are organized in a logical manner with appropriate text, graphics and images. All material is properly cited. Oral explanation of material from slides is flawless. The key factor that distinguishes a HD presentation is the elevated quality of intellectual insights, including breadth of evidence. Material is presented in a way that demonstrates insightful appreciation of how facts and arguments fit into a larger picture. The award of HD is given sparingly. Use of time is prefect.


75 - 84

You display high aptitude for the subject area and present this knowledge with excellence. The outline and purpose of your presentation is clearly outlined and material presented logically. There are no obvious and major flaws in text, graphics and images. All material is properly cited. Oral explanation of material from slides is consistent with data and arguments. Material is presented in a way that demonstrates an understanding of the significance of the topic. Use of time is perfect.


65 - 74

You display command of your question. Slides are visually presented well, with appropriate oral explanation. Additional sources of data or argument are presented and cited appropriately.  The overall logic of the presentation is clear. There may be some poor handling of time.


50 - 64

You show that you have understood the learning outcomes of the unit to a satisfactory standard. Slides display an understanding of the issue and are supported appropriately by oral explanation. Material is cited appropriately. There may be some poor handling of time.


0 - 49

When you don’t meet the learning outcomes of the unit to a satisfactory standard. This could be because slides are somewhat disorganized or have some factual errors or with material that is not cited appropriately. Or it could be that the oral presentation provides inconclusive evidence that all members of the group have a clear understanding of the topic. There may be some poor handling of time.


Result name

Mark range


High distinction

85 - 100

A response at the HD level will demonstrate flair for the subject area.  A comprehensive understanding of the material should be apparent, and clear critical evaluation of the subject area supported by evidence and examples.  There must be no factual errors. More than this, you should demonstrate clear evidence of wider knowledge and reasoning (that is, knowledge additional to that required by the essay question, and reasoning that places this knowledge in contexts that may be new or novel relative to the prescriptions of the essay).  You must demonstrate wide and independent reading (again, beyond that specified or required by the question) and the use of high-quality, peer-reviewed information to support their arguments.  Citation and referencing must be consistent and without error. Presentation, expression and grammar must be outstanding.  The essay must be clearly and logically structured to support the argument being made.  Figures and tables (if any) must be clear, captioned and appropriately referenced. An award of HD is an exceptional achievement, given sparingly.


75 - 84

A response at the DI level will demonstrate high-level aptitude for the subject area.  The essay should indicate a strong understanding of the material, incorporating all of the relevant factual information as specified by the question. Evidence of critical evaluation should be apparent. There should be no significant factual errors.  Some evidence of independent and original thinking should be apparent.  There must be evidence for the use of a wide range of credible, peer-reviewed sources to support arguments made in the essay.  Citation and referencing must be consistent and without significant error. Presentation, expression and grammar must be of very high quality, and the essay should be clearly and logically structured. Figures and tables (if any) must be clear, captioned and appropriately referenced. An award at the DI level is an excellent achievement.


65 - 74

A response at the CR level will demonstrate a good understanding of the subject area, incorporating most of the relevant knowledge or facts as specified by the question. There is evidence of a sound understanding of the material, and that this understanding has been successfully applied to the essay question. There may be some limited evidence of critical independent thinking and/or originality of thought.  There should be few significant factual errors, and the essay should incorporate most of the relevant factual information as specified by the question.  There must be evidence of a range of sources, most of which must be credible, peer-reviewed sources.  Presentation should be clear, and expression should be of good quality, with few typographical or grammatical errors. Figures and tables (if any) must be clear, captioned and appropriately referenced. An award at the CR level is a good achievement.


50 - 64

A response at the PS level will demonstrate a satisfactory understanding of the subject area.  The essay should include some of the relevant knowledge or factual information.  While the response is judged to adequately answer part or all of the question posed, there may be some significant factual errors and omissions.  A limited range of sources is apparent, a proportion of which will be non-peer reviewed.  Citation and referencing may be inconsistent through the essay and there may be several errors in fact, formatting or style.  Presentation may be poor, and a logical structure unclear or absent.  Expression may be deemed adequate, but there will be several grammatical or typographical errors that compromise the flow and meaning of the essay. Figures and tables (if any) may be unclear, not captioned or inappropriately referenced. An award at the PS level is satisfactory, and should be considered a ‘threshold’ achievement.


0 - 49

A response at the FA level will demonstrate an unsatisfactory or inadequate level of understanding of the subject area.  The essay response will include little of the relevant knowledge or factual information required to properly address the set question. There may be few references, and a large proportion of these may derive from non peer-reviewed sources. Citation is inadequate, with several unsupported factual statements.  Citation and referencing may be inconsistent with numerous errors.  Presentation is poor, with no structure explicit or otherwise.  Expression is very poor to poor, with numerous and repetitive typographical and grammatical errors.  The essay is difficult to read, and the meaning of the prose may be unclear. Figures and tables (if any) will be unclear, inappropriate for the purpose, not captioned or inappropriately referenced. An award at the FA level is unsatisfactory and below the threshold standard for achievement at this year level.

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 assessments 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 via a special consideration or special arrangement will incur penalties (5% deduction from assessment mark every 24 hours).

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 Planet Earth: Integrated Earth System Online class (1 hr) LO1 LO6
Welcome to the unit; Group presentation preparation Practical (2 hr) LO3 LO5 LO6
Week 02 Moving Earth: Formation and Early Evolution Online class (1 hr) LO1 LO6
Introduction to ArcGIS Pro; Group presentation preparation Practical (2 hr) LO2 LO3 LO5 LO6
Week 03 Moving Earth: Development of the unifying theory of plate tectonics Online class (1 hr) LO1 LO6
India's collision with Eurasia; Earthquakes and tsunamis Practical (2 hr) LO2
Week 04 Time on Earth: Climate change in the context of geological time Online class (1 hr) LO1 LO6
Global paleo-climate and paleo-geography Practical (2 hr) LO2
Week 05 Time on Earth: The role of geologists in addressing the challenges of the 21st century Online class (1 hr) LO1 LO6
Week 06 Dynamic Earth: Geochemistry, minerals and weathering Online class (1 hr) LO1 LO6
Acid mine drainage Practical (2 hr) LO2
Week 07 Dynamic Earth: Earth's atmosphere and oceans Online class (1 hr) LO1 LO6
Climate change and melting ice Practical (2 hr) LO2
Week 08 Cultivated Earth: Securing Earth's mosaic of soil Online class (1 hr) LO1 LO6
Where can we grow food? Practical (2 hr) LO2
Week 09 Cultivated Earth: Water – Sources, volumes and flows Online class (1 hr) LO1 LO6
Rising sea levels Practical (2 hr) LO2
Week 10 Human Earth: The effects of human population on global environments Online class (1 hr) LO1 LO6
Global population change Practical (2 hr) LO2
Week 11 Human Earth: Dealing with negative environmental effects Online class (1 hr) LO1 LO6
Heat and climate change in western Sydney Practical (2 hr) LO2
Week 12 People & Future Earth: Responses to climate change Online class (1 hr) LO1 LO6
National responses to climate change agreements Practical (2 hr) LO2
Week 13 People & Future Earth: A new geological age Online class (1 hr) LO1 LO6

Attendance and class requirements

Practical classes for this course make use of the ArcGIS Pro software. Remote students will require access to a computer to use ArcGIS Pro so they can complete their practical assessments. This will not be possible using a tablet. 

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.

Required readings

All readings for this unit can be accessed on the Canvas site for this unit. There is no prescribed text for this unit. Rather, students are expected to read and critically assess a number of set readings during the course of the semester. 

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. Describe and explain the physical and social processes that have shaped terrestrial, ocean, atmospheric and human population characteristics of planet Earth.
  • LO2. Describe and analyse spatial data and create maps using Geographic Information Systems.
  • LO3. Undertake academic literature searches, and be aware of the conventions relating to academic literature.
  • LO4. Construct a logical argument with coherency through an essay to communicate Earth systems at a University level, as described in policy.
  • LO5. Investigate environmental issues and communicate, share and present this to others.
  • LO6. Demonstrate informed citizenship about issues relating to contemporary environmental debates.

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.

No changes have been made since this unit was last offered as a consequence of student feedback.

Work, health and safety

We are governed by the Work Health and Safety Act 2011, Work Health and Safety Regulations 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. A link to general wellbeing and support services for students is provided (along with other links to important information and resources) at the end of this document. 

Practical classes are held in computer laboratories. The following general safety rules apply to these spaces.

  • Face to face students will occupy every second computer (evenly numbered computers) whilst completing their practical work to maintain social distancing.
  • For the safety of others and for the protection of equipment, no eating or hot drinks are allowed in practical classes.
  • In case of fire or any emergency, follow all instructions of your class demonstrator
  • Students should act with civility to other students and the class demonstrator. Rude, discrimatory, racist, sexist or bullying behaviour is not acceptable under any circumstances and will not be tolerated.


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

To help you understand common terms that we use at the University, we offer an online glossary.