University of Sydney Handbooks - 2018 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.

About the major

A major in Geology and Geophysics provides an interdisciplinary and integrative 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 relationships between the continents and oceans that provide the physical habitat for the earth's various ecosystems, as well as the resources our modern society needs.

This major will provide you with an understanding of the origin of our planet, its evolution across geological time through the complex interaction between its internal geodynamic, plate tectonics, surface processes and biological processes. This major will equip you with the expertise necessary for possible employment in areas of sustainable exploration and management of our natural, mineral and energy resources.

You will gain observational, analytical, computational, and communication skills transferable to a broad range of industries including education, insurance and banking.

Requirements for completion

A major in Geology and Geophysics requires 48 credit points, consisting of:

(i) 12 credit points of 1000-level core units
(ii) 12 credit points of 2000-level core units
(iii) 12 credit points of 3000-level core units
(iv) 12 credit points of 3000-level selective units

A minor in Geology and Geophysics is available and articulates to this major.

Pathway through the major

The requirements for a major in Geology and Geophysics are spread out over three years of the degree (possibly four years if students are completing a combined Bachelor of Advanced Studies degree).

A sample pathway for the Geology and Geophysics major (over three years of a degree) is listed below.

Sample pathway: Geology and Geophysics major (48 credit points)



Units of study


Semester 1

Core: GEOS1X01 Earth, Environment and Society

Semester 2

Core: GEOS1X03 Introduction to Geology


Semester 1

Core: GEOS2X14 Volcanoes, Hot Rocks and Minerals

Semester 2

Core: GEOS2X24 Fossils and Tectonics


Semester 1

Core: GEOS3X01 Earth’s Structure and Evolution

Semester 1 or Semester 2

Core: GEOS3X08 Field Geology

Selective: 3000-level units listed for major

Please Note. This sample progression is meant as an example only. Depending on unit prerequisites, students may be able to complete these units in a different sequence from that displayed in the table above.

For details of the core and selective units of study required for the major or minor please refer to the Geology and Geophysics section of the unit of study table, Table S, in this handbook.

Fourth year

The fourth year is only offered within the combined Bachelor of Science/Bachelor of Advanced Studies course.

Advanced coursework
The Bachelor of Advanced Studies advanced coursework option consists of 48 credit points, which must include a minimum of 24 credit points in a single subject area at 4000-level, including a project unit of study worth at least 12 credit points. Space is provided for 12 credit points towards the second major (if not already completed). 24 credit points of advanced study will be included in the table for 2020.

Requirements for Honours in the area of Geology and Geophysics: completion of 36 credit points of project work and 12 credit points of coursework.

Honours units of study will be available in 2020.

Contact and further information


T +61 2 9351 2912

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

Associate Professor Patrice Rey
T + 61 2 9351 2067
Learning Outcomes

Students who graduate from Geology and Geophysics will be able to:

  1. Understand geology and geophysics in the broader context of Earth system science
  2. Identify key Earth systems and articulate the interaction between chemical, physical and biological processes that govern the co-evolution of life and Earth
  3. Demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of the Earth structure, its internal and external dynamics and evolution
  4. Collect, record, compile, process, critically evaluate analyse and interpret, qualitative and quantitative geological, geochemical and geophysical data in order to construct robust and verifiable models and assess scientific arguments
  5. Integrate a range of geological, geochemical and geophysical methods and approaches, with computational resources to address and model geological phenomena at a variety of scales in space and time
  6. Use a range of techniques, competently communicate the rationale for scientific endeavours, methods and approaches
  7. Work competently, confidently, ethically and safely in field or laboratory, and in the context of interdisciplinary and multicultural environment
  8. Demonstrate a familiarity with the legislative, regulatory and normative context in which resources industries operate.