University of Sydney Handbooks - 2021 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 understanding of the surface and internal planetary processes that determine how Earth functions. Global climate change, an increasing human population, and shrinking mineral and energy resources have heightened our sense of dependence on Earth's complex natural system. We need to understand the dynamic relationships between the continents, the oceans and the atmosphere as together they provide the resources our modern society needs, and environments for fragile ecosystems.

As a first-year student, you will access the fundamental knowledge and latest scientific advances in understanding the interconnectedness of Earth’s systems. You will use this knowledge to understand the origin of our planet and its evolution across geological time through the complex interaction between the deep Earth, plate tectonics, surface processes, ancient climates and biological evolution. You will grow the interdisciplinary knowledge, vocabulary and practical skills that underpins advanced geological and geophysical understanding.

In second and third year, you will develop multi-scale observational and analytical skills that will include the microscope, fieldwork and remote sensing techniques. You will engage with and make use of computer-based imaging, and design computer-based simulations. This major will equip you with the expertise necessary for employment in areas of sustainable exploration and management of our natural, mineral and energy resources. Through inquiry-led learning and interdisciplinary projects you will expand skills and qualities transferable to a broad range of industries beyond exploration and mining, and the expertise to make a difference and help change the world for the better.

Requirements for completion

The Geology and Geophysics major and minor requirements are listed in the Geology and Geophysics unit of study table.

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. Exhibit a broad and coherent body of knowledge in geology and geophysics, within the context of Earth system science.
  2. Exhibit deep knowledge in the principles and concepts relating to Earth’s structure, its internal and external dynamics and evolution.
  3. Integrate principles and concepts of key Earth systems and articulate the interaction between chemical, physical and biological processes that govern the emergence and co-evolution of life on Earth.
  4. Work competently, confidently, ethically and safely in the field or laboratory.
  5. Source collate, synthesise and critically evaluate information in geology and geophysics from a range of relevant sources.
  6. Communicate concepts and findings in geology and geophysics through a range of modes for a variety of purposes and audiences, using evidence-based arguments that are robust to critique.
  7. Integrate geological, geochemical and geophysical methods and approaches with computational resources to model and interpret geological phenomena at a variety of scales in space and time.
  8. Utilise qualitative and quantitative geological, geochemical and geophysical data to construct robust and verifiable models and assess scientific arguments.
  9. Address authentic problems in geology and geosciences, working professionally and responsibly and with consideration of cross-cultural perspectives, within collaborative, interdisciplinary teams.
  10. Describe and assess the legislative, regulatory and normative context in which resource industries operate.