Course Title: Physical Geography

Part A: Course Overview

Course Title: Physical Geography

Credit Points: 12.00


Course Code




Learning Mode

Teaching Period(s)


City Campus


171H School of Science


Sem 2 2017,
Sem 2 2018

Course Coordinator: Assoc Professor Colin Arrowsmith

Course Coordinator Phone: 9925 2042

Course Coordinator Email:

Pre-requisite Courses and Assumed Knowledge and Capabilities


Course Description

This course introduces you to the key facets of physical geography, namely geomorphology, meteorology, oceanography and hydrology. You will explore early methods used by scientists to date the age of the earth before investigating current earth formation theory; discuss reasons for geomorphological variation across the earth’s surface; review the tectonic and gradational landform processes that shape our physical environment. In meteorology you learn about concepts relating to temperature, air pressure and atmospheric moisture and the global and local effects of atmospheric variability on weather patterns, as well as global and local climatic patterns and their classification. In oceanography you discover coastal processes and how the oceans shape our coastlines. Finally in hydrology you examine the movement of water beneath and above the earth surface. The course provides you with the background for further study in physical geography and geomorphology.

Objectives/Learning Outcomes/Capability Development

This course contributes to the development of the following Program Learning Outcomes for MC265 Master of Science (Geospatial).

1.1  Describe the fundamental and applied scientific knowledge that underpins the geospatial sciences.

1.4  Discern research directions and advances within geospatial sciences.

3.2  Interpret and critically analyse results and make informed judgments on the appropriateness of solutions.

4.1  Communicate effectively by means of oral, written and graphical presentations to peers and a wider audience.

5.1  Appreciate the environmental, social, legal and international aspects of actions and decisions in the geospatial sciences.

6.1   Be self-motivated and personally responsible for your actions and learning.

6.3  Professionally manage and use information.

On completion of this course you should be able to:

  1. Define the broad relationships operating within and between the major environmental systems discussed
  2. Describe the basic processes operating within the atmosphere, lithosphere and the earth surface systems and their effects in terms of landform evolution and land degradation
  3. Interpret basic data from the field and other sources and display it visually in the form of maps and graphs
  4. Recognise major landform features, such as hydrological features, and explain how these landforms were developed,
  5. Recognise major climatic conditions and communicate effectively, the fundamental processes that have given rise to these climatic conditions
  6. Synthesize climate change data and present an analytical report based on this data.

Overview of Learning Activities

In this course you will actively participate in a series of classroom lectures and practical classes. You will work on the practical component in fortnightly exercises. This will involve map interpretation, analysing climate statistics, analysing climate, and geomorphic landforms. You can access the course material online. This material will include lecture summaries, video links, practical exercises, and a “Blog” activity based around a geomorphic exercise conducted in the field. Tutorial exercises will also be conducted online.

Total study hours:

Two hours of lectures and two hours of practical exercise per week contact.  There are six tutorial exercises conducted online. 

There will also be a “Blog” exercise and research project which is conducted as individual exercises outside class time

Overview of Learning Resources

As a student enrolled in this course at RMIT University you can access the extensive learning resources provided in the school and in the library, such as books, journals and other course-related materials (electronic and paper-based) The library offers extensive services and facilities, geared to assist you in completing your studies successfully.

More specifically, recommended references are:

Barry, R. G. and Chorley, R. J. (1982) Atmosphere, Weather and Climate (4th Ed.), Methuen, London, UK.

Christopherson, R. W. (2009??) Elemental Geosystems: A Foundation in Physical Geography, Prentice Hall, USA.

Dalrymple, G. B. (1991) The Age of the Earth, Stanford University Press, USA

Monkhouse, F. J. (1981) Principles of Physical Geography (8th Ed.), Hodder and Stoughton Ltd., UK.

Sherbon Hills E. (1975) Physiography of Victoria, An Introduction to Geomorphology, Whitcombe & Tombs Pty Ltd, Australia.

Summerfield, M. A. (1992) Global Geomorphology, Longman, UK.

A library subject guide is available at:

Overview of Assessment

This course has no hurdle requirements.

Assessment tasks

Early Assessment Task:  Practical exercise 1

Weighting 7.5%

This assessment task supports CLO 3 and 4.

Assessment Task 2:  Practical exercises

Weighting 22.5%

The three practical exercise assessments support CLOs 2, 3, 4, & 5.

Assessment Task 3:  Class tests

Weighting 20%

These two class tests support CLOs 1, 2, 3, 4 & 5.

Assessment Task 4: Blog activity

Weighting 30%

This assessment task supports CLOs 2, 3, 4.

Assessment Task 5: Research project

Weighting 20%

This assessment task supports CLOs 2, 3, 5, and 6.