Course Title: The Changing Environment

Part A: Course Overview

Course Title: The Changing Environment

Credit Points: 12.00


Course Code




Learning Mode

Teaching Period(s)


City Campus


135H Applied Sciences


Sem 2 2014,
Sem 2 2015,
Sem 2 2016


City Campus


171H School of Science


Sem 1 2017,
Sem 1 2018,
Sem 1 2019,
Sem 1 2021,
Sem 1 2022,
Sem 2 2023

Course Coordinator: Dr Maggie Zhai and Prof. Rachel Caruso

Course Coordinator Phone: +61 3 9925 3367 and +61 3 9925 2146

Course Coordinator Email: and

Course Coordinator Location: 3.1.10H and 3.1.07

Course Coordinator Availability: By appointment, through email

Pre-requisite Courses and Assumed Knowledge and Capabilities


Course Description

This course introduces you to basic concepts in Environmental Science and provides you with a specific background on the composition and structure of the Earth.  It will take you on a journey from the Big Bang to the present day, examining the evidence we have for our theories on the beginning and development of the Earth.  You will study in detail the development of the Lithosphere, Hydrosphere, the Atmosphere, and the interactions which occur between them.  The environment of the Melbourne area will be used to illustrate the topics studied. 

Objectives/Learning Outcomes/Capability Development

This course contributes to the development of the following Program Learning Outcomes (PLOs):

PLO1: Apply an interdisciplinary knowledge of scientific theories, principles, concepts, and practices in the environmental sciences. 

Analyse and critically examine scientific evidence through research with reflection on the role, relevance and significance of environmental science. 

PLO3: Apply principles of scientific inquiry, tools, and techniques relevant to environmental science to solve problems informed by evidence-based decision making. 

PLO4: Critically evaluate and communicate concepts and practice relevant to the fields of environmental science to diverse audiences utilising a variety of modes employing integrity and culturally safe practices.   

PLO5: Work independently, with agility, safety, and accountability for your own learning and professional future. 

PLO6: Demonstrate knowledge of the regulatory frameworks relevant to environmental science and exhibit safe and ethical conduct. 

PLO7: Collaborate and contribute within diverse, multi-disciplinary teams, with commitment to  diversity, equity and globally inclusive  perspectives and practices including First Nations knowledges and input.


On successful completion of this course, you should be able to:

  1. Demonstrate a broad and coherent knowledge and understanding of the development of the Earth to its present-day structure
  2. Gather, describe, and explain information from a range of sources including books and journal articles
  3. Effectively communicate arguments on the theories related to past events in geological history
  4. Be an independent and self-directed learner 

Overview of Learning Activities

Your learning activities for this course are: 

  • Pre-recorded lectures where syllabus material will be presented and explained, and the subject will be illustrated with practical examples; 
  • Participation in field work; 
  • Completion of online tests, essays, and written, structured field reports which will be prepared based on instructions provided and will require you to integrate your understanding of the subject matter; 
  • Private study, working through the course as presented either in classes and other learning materials, and gaining practice at solving conceptual and numerical problems; and 
  • Workshops will form part of the course, where we will discuss topics related to the pre-recorded material. 

Overview of Learning Resources

Lecture notes and presentations for the course will be available through CANVAS as well as course information and other learning materials.  

The course textbook is “Environment - The Science Behind the Stories”, 

  • Read the chapters of the textbook assigned for the Weekly Topic. Do the “For Review Questions” located at the end of each chapter in the textbook. 
  • Watch the recommended videos  
  • Complete  quizzes relating to the learning materials. 

Details of the key recommended reference sources for this course are provided in part B of the course guide. 

Overview of Assessment

This course has no hurdle requirements.

Assessment Task 1 – 1000 Word Essay Written Assignment  

Weighting 30% 

This assessment supports CLOs 2, 3 & 4 


Assessment Task 2 - Online quizzes  

Weighting 15% 

This assessment supports CLOs 2 ,3 & 4 


Assessment Task 3 - Online Engagement  

Weighting: 15% 

This assessment supports CLOs 2 & 4 


Assessment Task 4 - Fieldwork activities and reports  

Weighting: 40% 

This assessment supports CLOs 1, 2 & 4