Earth Systems

Griffith University

Course Description

  • Course Name

    Earth Systems

  • Host University

    Griffith University

  • Location

    Gold Coast, Australia

  • Area of Study

    Environmental Science, Environmental Studies, Environmental Sustainability, Natural Sciences

  • Language Level

    Taught In English

  • Course Level Recommendations


    ISA offers course level recommendations in an effort to facilitate the determination of course levels by credential evaluators.We advice each institution to have their own credentials evaluator make the final decision regrading course levels.

    Hours & Credits

  • Credit Points

  • Recommended U.S. Semester Credits
    3 - 4
  • Recommended U.S. Quarter Units
    4 - 6
  • Overview

    Course Description
    This course introduces the main environmental spheres and important natural processes of the Earth, considered as a series of systems interacting at various scales. Features of the lithosphere, atmosphere, hydrosphere and biosphere are explained, with emphasis given to the interrelationships between these spheres. In doing so, basic concepts of the more specialized fields of meteorology, climatology, hydrology, oceanography, soil science, geology, geomorphology and biogeochemistry will be studied.

    Course Introduction
    The course Earth Systems is a study in physical geography which draws on several physical and natural sciences that collectively seek to understand the Earth, and that describe Earth's major systems, landforms and development through time ? i.e. geology, geography, meteorology, climatology, hydrology, oceanography, soil science, geomorphology and palaeo-sciences (e.g. dating of rocks and landforms, the Geological Time Scale, palaeoclimatology, evolution). Earth Sciences also embraces some aspects of physics, chemistry and biology.

    A wide range of topics is covered in this course, including:
    - Earth's place within the solar system;
    - prebiotic, ancient Earth;
    - glaciated mountain range to the hidden depths of Earth's core;
    - the factors that contribute to Earth's current climate and global change, including the influence of human society;
    - the origin and chemical form of specific minerals;
    - the development and state of major theories, including those that are now considered the unifying theories of the Earth Sciences;
    - the importance of techniques of observation and experiments in science.

    This course will have a key role in the student's overall development as scientists as it will build background knowledge for other subjects and will reinforce connections between various other disciplines within the natural sciences.

    Course Aims
    The purpose of this course is to provide a broad exposure to knowledge within the many disciplines of Earth science and to provide an overall appreciation of physical geography in terms of major global processes and changes. Students will gain experience with some of the wide range of techniques used in Earth science investigations and will have the opportunity to undertake a more detailed library study of a landform/system of their choice.

    Earth Systems will explore some of the physical basis for understanding environmental problems, and it will be relevant to many courses undertaken in second and third year by environmental and other natural science students. The course will provide a deep appreciation of the diverse panoramas, intricate connections and inevitable change, both gradual and dramatic, of the world that we inhabit.

    The development of scientific ideas in this field is also a worthy subject of study, as the development and acceptance of ideas is sometimes reluctant and hostile and at other times welcoming. Understanding how ideas develop in science is an important part of scientific learning.

    Learning Outcomes
    After successfully completing this course you should be able to:
    1 Demonstrate sound knowledge and conceptual understanding, in terms of energy, material flows and subsystem components, of the following key Earth systems and processes: plate tectonics, the rock cycle, weathering, mass wasting and erosion, soil formation and classification, atmospheric composition, structure and general circulation, climate and climate change, landscape formation, geological dating, and changing conditions on ancient and recent Earth. This knowledge will be obtained through engagement with lectures, supplementary reading on each subject, involvement in tutorial class discussions and review questions, and reinforced in some topics through practical exercises. This learning will be demonstrated primarily by answering questions under exam conditions.
    2 Appreciate and anticipate observational and experimental techniques used to investigate a scientific process or system. This will be achieved through completing several different practical exercises and considering what they demonstrate about approaches to scientific enquiry. You will also be able to present, summarise and interpret data, and use it for problem-solving or investigation purposes. You will learn to clearly communicate your results and findings.
    3 Undertake detailed library research using primary and secondary literature. Write a concise and coherent report on a science topic of your choice given a broad outline of themes to address. You will have learnt to research and prepare a report in such a way that allows you to use appropriate referencing and acknowledgement of information contributed from other sources.
    4 Appreciate the need for individual responsibility of your learning in group learning environments (lectures and tutorials), activities where you collaborate with a small team (practicals) and for independent learning and assessment (completing the library research report and preparation for the exams). You will appreciate that your actions can affect the learning of other people in either a positive or negative manner and learn to meet the academic standards expected of you by the university and your future employers. You will have begun to understand and demonstrate the capacity for self-learning, which is vital knowledge to gain from your university experience.

    Assessment Plan
    Academic development holistic assessment - Early Engagement Task 0%/10
    Assignment - Laboratory/Laboratory Report - Earth Systems Laboratory reports 25%/50
    Assignment - Written Assignment - Landforms assignment 20%/100
    Exam - selected and constructed responses - Mid-semester examination 15%/100
    Exam - selected and constructed responses - Final Examination 40%/100

Course Disclaimer

Courses and course hours of instruction are subject to change.

Eligibility for courses may be subject to a placement exam and/or pre-requisites.

Credits earned vary according to the policies of the students' home institutions. According to ISA policy and possible visa requirements, students must maintain full-time enrollment status, as determined by their home institutions, for the duration of the program.