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Unit outline_

GEOS2911: Hazards, Climate Change and Disasters (Adv)

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

This unit has the same objectives as GEOS2111 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 performance to date. Students who 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.

Unit details and rules

Academic unit Geosciences Academic Operations
Credit points 6
A mark of 75 or above in (GEOS1XXX or GEOL1XXX)
Assumed knowledge


Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff

Coordinator Maria Seton,
Lecturer(s) Rebecca Hamilton,
Maria Seton,
Tutor(s) Tom New,
Lachlan Perris,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Assignment Policy Brief/National Geographic article
Research and communication assignment
15% Week 04
Due date: 25 Aug 2023 at 17:00
1,500 words
Outcomes assessed: LO3 LO5 LO1 LO2 LO4 LO7 LO9
Online task Module 1 Test (Week 1-4 content)
Multiple choice and short answer questions.
15% Week 05 60 minutes
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO7 LO5 LO4 LO3 LO2
Presentation group assignment GIS Practical Groupwork Presentation
Groupwork presentation based on GIS practicals.
20% Week 06 10-15 minutes (TBA)
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8 LO9
Online task Module 2 Test (Week 5-8 content)
Multiple choice and short answer questions.
15% Week 09 60 minutes
Outcomes assessed: LO4 LO7 LO5
Skills-based evaluation GIS Practical Individual Assignment
Individual written assignment based on GIS practicals
20% Week 12
Due date: 27 Oct 2023 at 17:00
1,500 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO9 LO8 LO7 LO6 LO5 LO4 LO3 LO2
Online task Module 3 Test (Week 9-12 content)
Multiple choice and short answer questions.
15% Week 13 60 minutes
Outcomes assessed: LO6 LO8 LO7
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, a student demonstrates a flair for the subject as well as a detailed and comprehensive understanding of the unit material. A ‘High Distinction’ reflects exceptional achievement and is awarded to a student who demonstrates the ability to apply their subject knowledge and understanding to produce original solutions for novel or highly complex problems and/or comprehensive critical discussions of theoretical concepts.


75 - 84

At DI level, a student demonstrates an aptitude for the subject and a well-developed understanding of the unit material. A ‘Distinction’ reflects excellent achievement and is awarded to a student who demonstrates an ability to apply their subject knowledge and understanding of the subject to produce good solutions for challenging problems and/or a reasonably well-developed critical analysis of theoretical concepts.


65 - 74

At CR level, a student demonstrates a good command and knowledge of the unit material. A ‘Credit’ reflects solid achievement and is awarded to a student who has a broad general understanding of the unit material and can solve routine problems and/or identify and superficially discuss theoretical concepts.


50 - 64

At PS level, a student demonstrates proficiency in the unit material. A ‘Pass’ reflects satisfactory achievement and is awarded to a student who has threshold knowledge.


0 - 49

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

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.

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
Multiple weeks Exploration of foundational concepts and theories related to hazards and disasters Lecture (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3
Module exploring introduction to climate, climate change, monitoring and prediction Lecture (2 hr) LO5 LO6 LO7
Module covering hazards associated with climate and weather extremes Lecture (4 hr) LO4 LO5 LO7
Module examining various hydro-meteorological hazards and their associated disasters Lecture (2 hr) LO1 LO4 LO7
Module covering extraterrestrial hazards Lecture (2 hr) LO1 LO4 LO6
Module exploring geological hazards and their associated disasters Lecture (4 hr) LO1 LO4 LO7
Module exploring the basics of disaster management, technologies and spatial sciences Lecture (4 hr) LO2 LO3 LO6 LO8
Module of local, regional and global case studies - disasters in perspective Lecture (3 hr) LO3 LO4 LO7 LO8
Week 01 Unit introduction, teaching philosophy, expectations and assessment tasks Lecture (1 hr)  
Week 13 Unit wrap up Lecture (1 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8
Weekly Practical classes will explore core aspects of the study of hazards and disasters using various case studies and software systems Practical (22 hr) LO2 LO8

Attendance and class requirements

This course will run as a series of lectures and practicals from Weeks 1-13. Lectures will be live and a recording will be available shortly after on Canvas.

The practicals will be face-to-face. Please ensure you read the weekly requirements on Canvas.

We encourage students to regularly check their emails and annoucements on Canvas regarding any changes to the week-to-week program.

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

Specific, dedicated readings for this unit can be accessed through the weekly modules in the Canvas site for this unit. Students are
also advised to read more widely in support of their learning for this Unit of Study

  • There is NO prescribed textbook for GEOS2111/2911. However, the University Library holds a number of hard copy and electronic books that are of value in supporting this unit.
  • The University holds a variety of full-text journals on-line. You are REQUIRED to consult journals as much as possible. You may find the following journals particularly helpful. Please note this is just an indicative list – many more relevant journals are also available:
    • Science; Nature (including Nature Geoscience, Nature Climate Change and Nature Earth and Environment Reviews); Disasters; Natural Hazards; The Australian Journal of Emergency Management; Disaster Prevention and Management; Environmental Hazards; Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences

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 classify the Earth’s four major planetary systems and be able to associate the relevant natural hazard types
  • LO2. Critically describe and interrogate the core concepts underpinning the study of natural hazards and disasters (drawing from disciplines such as geography, earth sciences, governance and political sciences, health systems, engineering and social and cultural studies) and demonstrate their intersection with climate change and disaster risk reduction and management
  • LO3. Identify and explain how concepts of vulnerability, resilience, risk and adaptive capacity interact to determine disaster losses (or not) in a particular situation or context
  • LO4. Review and comment upon the causes, processes, impacts and effects of selected natural hazard types
  • LO5. Review and describe the basics of climate change and relate human-induced climate change to the occurrence of commonly occurring hydro-meteorological hazards
  • LO6. Describe and discuss the various approaches to disaster risk reduction and management
  • LO7. Provide a range of examples and case studies to illustrate your knowledge of natural hazards, climate change and disasters from high, medium and low-income countries
  • LO8. Critically understand the range of technologies available to support spatial analysis as a mechanism for assessing hazard, risk and vulnerability and managing disasters
  • LO9. Organise and communicate a coherent account of personal research about various aspects of natural hazards, climate change and disaster management using various written formats (e.g., report, newspaper article, poster etc)

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.

GEOS2911 has a new teaching team for 2023. The assessments and practicals have changed and minor adjustments to some of the lecture content.

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.


The University is following advice from the government and related public health authorities. For the latest information, see

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.