University of Sydney Handbooks - 2016 Archive

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Geology and Geophysics

Study in the discipline of Geology and Geophysics is offered by the School of Geosciences in the Faculty of Science. Units of study in this major are available at standard and advanced level.

Program structure and content

Geology and Geophysics provides a unifying context for understanding the surface and internal planetary processes that determine how the earth functions as a system. Global climate change, an increasing population and shrinking mineral and energy resources have heightened our sense of dependence on our earth's complex natural systems and increased our need to understand the dynamic structural relationships between the continents and oceans which provide the physical habitat for the earth's various ecosystems. Geology and Geophysics provide students with an understanding of change on Earth, its origin, plate tectonics, surface processes, evolution of life and geologic time.

Intermediate units highlight the role of the earth system in all natural phenomena, including those of concern to humans such as geo-biodiversity, salinity, seismicity, volcanic hazards, climate and sea level change. Senior units of study cover methods of field data collection and provide access to cutting edge computing and data resources used for turning such observations into knowledge. Students will acquire the skills necessary for employment in all areas of sustainable exploration and management of our natural, mineral and energy resources.

First year planning for a major in Geology and Geophysics

Recommended: GEOS1001/1901 and GEOS1003/1903.

Requirements for a major

For a major in Geology and Geophysics, the minimum requirement is 24 credit points from Senior units listed in this subject area, which must include GEOS3008/3908 and GEOS3101/3801.


Both Semester One (February) and Semester Two (July) commencement is offered. Information sessions about Geology and Geophysics Honours are held for interested third year students during second semester. Students contemplating Honours in their fourth year should consider possible thesis topics and discuss these with potential staff supervisors.

Entry into fourth year Honours will require completion of a major in Geology and Geophysics and a satisfactory WAM. For students in degree programs administered by the Faculty of Science, this is defined as a minimum SciWAM of 65. For students in other degree programs, this is defined as a Credit average. In some years, when the number of applicants exceeds the availability of resources (eg availability of supervisors, laboratory space), offers will be made according to academic merit. Students will be notified in January of their formal acceptance into the Honours program.

Honours students are required to undertake formal coursework during their first semester and to participate in seminars throughout the year as arranged. They will be required to study original problems, working as appropriate in the field, the laboratory, libraries, and in some instances in conjunction with other university or government departments. A thesis of not more than 20,000 words must be submitted at the conclusion of the Honours program.

Honours contact

Honours Coordinator:
Professor Phil McManus

T +61 2 9351 4242

Contact/further information


T +61 2 9351 2912

School of Geosciences
Room 348, Madsen Building F09
University of Sydney
NSW 2006