Global Change

10 Units

Examines the nature, causes and extent of natural climate change through geological time, with a particular emphasis on how natural and human environments have responded to such change over the last several hundred thousand years. It focuses on the methods used to obtain proxy climate histories and the sources (archives) of these climate records, including ice cores, marine sediments, corals, tree rings, cave deposits, and landforms. The various techniques used to determine the age of the archives are also covered. The course provides a wide spectrum of evidence of climate changes and the responses of the environments to such changes from Australasian region, as well as Antarctica, the Americas and Europe. The course also explores how past climate change has affected ancient human civilizations.

In order to participate in this course, students must complete a compulsory Workplace Health and Safety requirement. Students will receive full information on this compulsory course component in the course outline provided by the school.

Faculty Faculty of Science and Information Technology
School School of Environmental and Life Sciences

Not currently offered

Previously offered in 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2005

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this course, students will have:

  1. An understanding of the nature, extent and likely causes of climate change through Earth history.
  2. A knowledge of the types of earth and biological materials (such as rocks, sediments, ice, corals) that host information on past climate, and the relative potential of those materials to preserve useful climate change information.
  3. A knowledge of the scientific techniques used to extract climate and environmental information, including radiometric dating, stable and radiogenic isotope analyses, microscopy.
  4. Skills in plotting proxy data and interpeting their variability through time in terms of changes in climate and environmental parameters.
  5. Field skills in the identification, description and sampling of palaeodata archives.
  6. An understanding of Quaternary Geology.

The course provides an excellent background for students wishing to pursue a career in environmental management, industry and a great opportunity for those wishing to pursue Honours in the area of climate and environmental change and Quaternary Geology .


The major topics covered are: Overview of Climate change throughout Earth history -Long term climate change - Tectonic scale Greenhouse climate Icehouse climate: nature, magnitude and causes of climate change during the Quaternary. Climate and environments during the Quaternary Our quest: “Cracking palaeoclimate causes” Records of climate and environmental change archived in: -ice-cores, tree rings, boreholes -cave deposits (speleothems) -marine sediments and organisms, including corals -field and laboratory methods in the sampling and processing of palaeodata archives -critical evaluation and processing of climate change data

Assumed Knowledge GEOS1040; GEOS2200; GEOS2050 or GEOS2070.
Assessment Items
  • Essays / Written Assignments - - Essay
  • Laboratory Exercises - - Data processing and interpretation
  • Quiz - Class - - Field trip quiz - Mid-semester Quiz - Final Quiz (in Class)
  • Reports - - Major field report (Alternative Assessment) - Written Scientific Paper
Contact Hours
  • Field Study: for 28 hour(s) per Week for 1 weeks
  • Laboratory: for 36 hour(s) per Term for Full Term
  • Lecture: for 20 hour(s) per Term for Full Term
Compulsory Requirements
  • Compulsory Course Component WHS-Safety Induction or Risk Assessment. Compulsory Course Component: In order to participate in this course, students must complete a compulsory safety and /or fieldwork induction.
Timetable 2018 Course Timetables for GEOS3280
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