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Unit of study_

GEOS3909: Coastal Environments and Processes (Adv)

Semester 1, 2023 [Normal day] - Camperdown/Darlington, Sydney

Advanced students will complete the same core lecture material as for GEOS3009 but will carry out more challenging projects, practicals, assignments and tutorials.

Unit details and rules

Unit code GEOS3909
Academic unit Geosciences Academic Operations
Credit points 6
GEOS3009 or MARS3003 or MARS3105
A mark of 75 or above in GEOS2X15
Assumed knowledge


Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff

Coordinator Jody Webster,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Supervised exam
Final exam
Multiple Choice & Extended-Response questions
40% Formal exam period 2 hours
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8 LO9 LO10 LO11 LO12
Tutorial quiz Quiz
Quiz testing knowledge of field(s) and practs
20% Week 05 30 minutes
Outcomes assessed: LO5 LO12 LO8 LO7 LO6
Tutorial quiz Quiz
Quiz testing knowledge and skills learnt in practs
10% Week 07 30 minutes
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO12 LO9 LO8 LO7 LO6 LO5 LO4 LO3 LO2
Tutorial quiz Quiz
Quiz testing knowledge and skills learnt in practs
10% Week 09 30 mins
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO5 LO12 LO6 LO4 LO3 LO2
Assignment Modelling report
Written report based on coding exercises
20% Week 13 up to 10 page report
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO6 LO7 LO8 LO9 LO10 LO11 LO12

Assessment summary

Writing task: This assignment will require you to integrate information from lectures and practicals to create a concise written argument.

Quiz: Consisting of multiple choice questions, these quizzes will test your understanding of material covered in that week's practical class. These quizzes need to be completed before your scheduled practical class.

Presentation: This assignment will test how you can explain to your peers the data you have collected and the results from your field trip.

Final exam: The exam will cover all material in the unit from both lectures and practical classes. The exam will be extended answers. 

If a second replacement exam is required, this exam may be delivered via an alternative assessment method, such as a viva voce (oral exam). The alternative assessment will meet the same learning outcomes as the original exam. The format of the alternative assessment will be determined by the unit coordinator.

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 and comprehensive knowledge and understanding of the unit material. A ‘High Distinction’ reflects exceptional achievement and is awarded to a student who demonstrates the ability to apply subject knowledge to novel situations. 


75 - 84

At D level, a student demonstrates an aptitude for the subject and a solid knowledge and understanding of the unit material. A ‘Distinction’ reflects excellent achievement and is awarded to a student who demonstrates an ability to apply the key ideas of the subject.


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 understanding of the unit material but has not fully developed the ability to apply the key ideas of the subject


50 - 64

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


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.

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 UOS intro & 1. Surf zone currents; 2. Estuaries and inlets Lecture (2 hr)  
Week 02 Waves and sediment transport Lecture (2 hr)  
Week 03 Oceanic waves and sandy beaches Lecture (2 hr)  
Introduction to coastal field trip and practicals Practical (3 hr)  
Coastal Field Trip (TBA) Field trip (24 hr)  
Processing and analysis of sediment data Practical (3 hr)  
Week 04 Processing and analysis of wave data Practical (3 hr)  
1. Coral reef morphodynamics; 2. Estuarine beaches Lecture (2 hr)  
Week 05 Research project - data reduction and interpretation Practical (3 hr)  
Week 06 Research project - data reduction and interpretation Practical (3 hr)  
Intro & Why do we care?; Carbonate vs. silciclastic coastal and continental margin environments and processes; Marine sediments & processes 101 Lecture (2 hr)  
Practical Mod 1 (Intro ARCGIS, bathymetry & sediment data) Practical (3 hr)  
Week 07 Carbonate sediments & depositional systems in space and time Lecture (2 hr)  
Practical Mod 2 (Sea level change, coasts & reefs) Practical (3 hr)  
Week 08 Advanced methods in the analysis of coastal & continental margin environments Lecture (2 hr)  
Week 09 Coral reefs and climate change: past, present and future Lecture (2 hr)  
Practical Mod 3-4 (Core logging, Holocene reef growth & sea level) Practical (3 hr)  
Week 10 Introduction to ocean data science Lecture (2 hr)  
Introduction to IPython & Ocean data query Practical (3 hr)  
Week 11 Modelling of hydrodynamic processes Lecture (2 hr)  
Ocean data query for coastal hydrodynamic monitoring Practical (3 hr)  
Week 12 Long-term evolution of coastal systems Lecture (2 hr)  
Long-term evolution of embayment beaches Practical (3 hr)  
Week 13 Coral reef modelling & UOS survey, review & examination details Lecture (2 hr)  
Coral reef systems modelling Practical (3 hr)  

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. understand the main carbonate-dominated coastal to continental margin environments (including reefs) and the major process influencing them
  • LO2. to relate the different types of reef environments with different physical, chemical and biologic factors
  • LO3. demonstrate the long term (geologic) development and sedimentary architecture of reefal and deltaic systems in space and time to changes in past climate, sea level and tectonic regimes
  • LO4. establish the range of likely impacts of predicted future global climate changes on reef systems
  • LO5. demonstrate techniques in evaluating and interpreting remote sensing data used to characterise coastal and continental margin environments
  • LO6. demonstrate understanding of coastal processes and the morphodynamics of coastal systems
  • LO7. define a beach system by its morphodynamic state and associated basic processes
  • LO8. learn about the nature of wave breaking, transformation and impact on coastal environments
  • LO9. establish scientific data analysis and interpretation techniques, using PYTHON & MATLAB
  • LO10. setup, run and analyse data using a numerical model
  • LO11. develop the ability to identify and evaluate relevant environmental information from written and spoken scientific presentations
  • LO12. provide guidelines of how to address coastal studies in real-life situations.

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.

Yes this will be done

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:


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