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Unit of study_

GEOS1903: Earth Sci: Past and Future of our Planet (Adv)

Semester 2, 2023 [Normal day] - Camperdown/Darlington, Sydney

This unit has the same objectives as GEOS1003 and is suitable for students who wish to pursue aspects of the subject in greater depth. Entry is restricted and selection is made from the applicants on the basis of their ATAR or UAI and/or their university performance at the time of enrolment. Students that elect to take this unit will participate in alternatives to some aspects of the standard unit and will be required to pursue independent work to meet unit objectives. This unit may be taken as part of the BSc (Advanced).

Unit details and rules

Unit code GEOS1903
Academic unit Geosciences Academic Operations
Credit points 6
GEOS1003 or GEOL1002 or GEOL1902
Assumed knowledge

(ATAR 90 or above) or equivalent

Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff

Coordinator Vasileios Chatzaras,
Demonstrator(s) Utpal Singh,
Jonathon Leonard,
Kelsie Dadd,
Eric Wang,
Lecturer(s) Vasileios Chatzaras,
Sara Moron Polanco,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Supervised exam
Final Exam
Short Answers - Complete Questions and Map Problems
35% Formal exam period 3 hours
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7
Small continuous assessment Practical assignments
Completion and submission of four practical assignments during the unit.
16% Multiple weeks 2.5 hours
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO7 LO6 LO4 LO3 LO2
Small test On-line Quizzes
Four short on-line multiple choice quizzes
14% Multiple weeks 30 minutes
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO7 LO6 LO5 LO4 LO3
Skills-based evaluation Field trip
Sydney Basin Geology (in-person) Self-. directed excursion (online).
10% Week 10 One day
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO6 LO7
Tutorial quiz hurdle task Rock Identification quiz
See assessment summary
20% Week 13 1.5 hours
Outcomes assessed: LO4
Participation hurdle task Practical participation and attendance
See assessment summary
0% Weekly 2.5 hours
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO7 LO5 LO4 LO3 LO2
Tutorial quiz Pre-practical quizzes
See assessment summary
5% Weekly Unlimited - Successful at 100% score
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO6 LO4 LO3 LO2
Tutorial quiz On-line self-test quizzes
Online Canvas quiz
0% Weekly See Canvas
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO6 LO5 LO4 LO3 LO2
hurdle task = hurdle task ?

Assessment summary

  • Pre-practical quizzes – 5% (Weekly): Completion of online multiple-choice questions is required before attending practical classes. Each quiz will be based on the week’s practical exercise provided in the Practical Manual. Unlimited attempts are availble for each quiz.  Each of the 10 quizzes contributes 0.5% to your final mark (10 x 0.5% = 5% of the total marks for the unit). Each quiz will be considered succesfully completed when a score of 100% is reached.  Any score less than 100% is worth of 0%.
  • Practical attendance and participation: Practical attendance and participation is based on the completion of the weekly worksheets. Worksheets should be completed during class and checked by your tutors. Feedback will be provided during the practical as appropriate.
  • Practical assignments – 16% (Weeks 3, 5, 8, 12): The four compulsory assignments will consist of activities and questions that need to be completed during the corresponding practical classes.  Each of the four assignments will contribute 4% to your final mark (4 x 4% = 16% of the total marks for the unit).   
  • On-Line Quizzes – 14% (Weeks 3, 6, 9, 12): The fourcompulsory on-line quizzes will be presented via Canvas and will test your understanding of the material presented in lectures and practical classes. They will usually consist of ten multiple-choice or short answer questions and test your knowledge of material presented in the preceding weeks’ lectures and practical classes. Each of the four quizzes will contribute 3.5% to your final mark (4 x 3.5% = 14% of the total marks for the unit). Note that they may include questions that test your rock identification skills and/or your geological map skills.   
  • Field trip – 10% (Week 10): An in-person field exercise and a self-directed remote aletrnative exercise requiring you to make geological observations and interpretations foccussed on the geology of Sydney Basin. This item will contribute 10% to your final mark.
  • Rock ID quiz – 20% (Week 13): During the practical classes of week 13 all students are required to sit a Rock ID quiz. This test will focus on the identification and description of a set of unknown geological samples (rocks / minerals). This item will contribute 20% towards your final mark. 
  • Final examination (35%): The final exam will be a three-hour exam comprised of questions requiring short answers and a geological map problem. The final examination will integrate lecture material and concepts together with the knowledge and understanding you acquired in practical classes. All material presented in both lectures and practical classes is potentially examinable in the final exam. The final exam contributes 35% of your final mark for this unit of study.
  • Self-test quizzes: Completion of these quizzes, which will be available on the Canvas Site, will not count towards your final mark. They are provided to assist students to understand the course content. It is in your interest to attempt this task as it will provide you with feedback on your progress in understanding the practical and lecture material.

More information for each of these assessment tasks can be found on the Unit’s Canvas Site.

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

Work awarded a high distinction grade will accurately answer the question in an impressive, compelling, or highly persuasive manner or is otherwise exceptional in some other way.


75 - 84

Work awarded a distinction grade will accurately answer the question in a convincing, confident manner or the answers are well written, with clear structure and cogent expression.


65 - 74

Work awarded a credit grade will answer appropriately and will be reasonably detailed. The answers are easily understood with both clear expression and structure if appropriate.


50 - 64

Work awarded a passing grade will have appropriate but superficial answer. The answers can  be understood but may be poorly worded or somewhat flawed due to poor grammar, expression or structure.


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:

For the Pre-practical quizzes, On-Line Quizzes, Rock ID quiz and Final examination, late submissions are prohibited and will receive a mark of zero. For the Practical Assignments and Field Trip Assignment, written work submitted electronically after 11.59 pm on the due date will be considered to have been submitted late. For every calendar day up to and including ten calendar days after the due date, a penalty of 5% of the maximum awardable marks will be applied to late work. The penalty will be calculated by first marking the work, and then subtracting 5% of the maximum awardable mark for each calendar day after the due date. For work submitted more than ten calendar days after the due date a mark of zero will be awarded. The marker may elect to, but is not required to, provide feedback on such work.

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 Earth Science - The Past and Future of our Planet Independent study (1.5 hr) LO1 LO6
Earth Science - The Past and Future of our Planet Lecture and tutorial (1.5 hr) LO1 LO6
Common igneous minerals Practical (2.5 hr) LO1 LO3 LO7
Week 02 Plate Tectonics - The Rock Cycle; Pre-Recorded Lecture Independent study (1.5 hr) LO3 LO4 LO5
Plate Tectonics - The Rock Cycle Lecture and tutorial (1.5 hr) LO3 LO4 LO5
Igneous rock textures Practical (2.5 hr) LO1 LO3 LO6 LO7
Week 03 Igneous Rocks and Processes; Pre-Recorded Lecture Independent study (1.5 hr) LO1 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6
Igneous Rocks and Processes Lecture and tutorial (1.5 hr) LO1 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7
Classifying igneous rocks Practical (2.5 hr) LO1 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7
Week 04 Sedimentary Rocks and Processes; Pre-Recorded Lecture Independent study (1.5 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO6
Sedimentary Rocks and Processes Lecture and tutorial (1.5 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO6 LO7
Sedimentary rocks 1 Practical (2.5 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO6 LO7
Week 05 Life Through the Ages; Pre-Recorded Lecture Independent study (1.5 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO6
Life through the Ages Lecture and tutorial (1.5 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO6
Sedimentary rocks 2 Practical (2.5 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO6 LO7
Week 06 The Geological Map; Pre-Recorded Lecture Independent study (1.5 hr) LO1 LO3 LO4 LO6
The geological map Lecture and tutorial (1.5 hr) LO1 LO3 LO4 LO6 LO7
Introduction to geological maps Practical (2.5 hr) LO1 LO3 LO4 LO6 LO7
Week 07 Metamorphic Rocks and Processes; Pre-Recorded Lecture Independent study (1.5 hr) LO1 LO3 LO6
Metamorphic Rocks and Processes Lecture and tutorial (1.5 hr) LO1 LO3 LO6 LO7
Metamorphic Reactions and Rock Textures Practical (2.5 hr) LO1 LO3 LO6 LO7
Week 08 Geological Structures; Pre-Recorded Lecture Independent study (1.5 hr) LO1 LO3 LO4 LO6
Metamorphic Rocks and Processes Lecture and tutorial (1.5 hr) LO1 LO3 LO4 LO6 LO7
Naming Metamorphic Rocks Practical (2.5 hr) LO1 LO3 LO4 LO6 LO7
Week 09 Plate Tectonics and Natural Hazards; Pre-Recorded Lecture Independent study (1.5 hr) LO1 LO5 LO6
Plate Tectonics and Natural Hazards Lecture and tutorial (1.5 hr) LO1 LO5 LO6 LO7
Structures on Geological Maps and Cross Sections Practical (2.5 hr) LO1 LO5 LO6 LO7
Week 10 Geology of Sydney Basin (in-person) and Self-Directed Field Experience (online) Field trip (8 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO6 LO7
Week 11 Geological Histories and Past Environments; Pre-Recorded Lecture Independent study (1.5 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO6
Geological Histories and Past Environments Lecture and tutorial (1.5 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO6 LO7
Fossils and Tectonics Exercise Practical (2.5 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO6 LO7
Week 12 Geology of Australia and the Sydney Area; Pre-Recorded Lectures Independent study (1.5 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO6
Geology of Australia and the Sydney Area Lecture and tutorial (1.5 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO6 LO7
Rock Identification Quiz Preparation Practical (2.5 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO6 LO7
Week 13 Review, Revision and Exam Preparation Lecture and tutorial (1.5 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6
Practical Test - Rock Identification Quiz Practical (1.5 hr) LO3 LO4 LO6 LO7

Attendance and class requirements


It is expected that students study the pre-recorded lecture material on their own time and attend the live lectorial oferred in-person and online. Core material in each lecture will be recorded and made available through eLearning. However, a portion of each lecture will involve interactions and/or group work, which may not ‘translate’ that well into the recorded state.

Practical Classes

Practical classes complement the lectures, and are compulsory. During most weeks of the semester there is a weekly, two and a half-hour practical class. If you cannot attend a class for any reason you should contact your tutor/demonstrator.

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

  • Recommended text: see Canvas 

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. Understand how geosciences can provide sustainable solutions to global challenges.
  • LO2. Develop appreciation of the significance of fossils and the longevity of the geologic record of biotic activity on the Earth.
  • LO3. Use the rock record to unravel geological history and understand the processes that have formed the Earth and currently modify the Earth’s physical features.
  • LO4. Understand the relationships between the different rocks systems (e.g., sedimentary, igneous, metamorphic).
  • LO5. Understand the relationship between plate tectonic processes and the occurrence of natural Earth hazards such as volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and tsunami.
  • LO6. Analyse and synthesise geological information to tackle a wide range of Earth Science issues.
  • LO7. Demonstrate written, oral and interpersonal communication skills.

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.

In accordance to student feedback and the lecturers' observations, we made the following changes: 1) The number of practical submissions decreased from 10 to 4 and their weight increased from 10 to 16. 2) The weight of the online, self-directed quizzes decreased from 16 to 14. 3) Some of the practical activities have been updated.

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.

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