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Major: Environmental Geology

Major Details

Environmental Geology


Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences
Faculty of Science and Engineering

This major must be completed as part of an award. The general requirements for the award must be satisfied in order to graduate.

Requirements for the Major:

Completion of a minimum of 36 credit points including the following prescribed units:

Credit points

100 level

The Planet Earth (3)
Biophysical Environments (3)
Earth Dynamics (3)
Marine Geoscience (3)

200 level

Earth Surface Processes (3)
Introduction to Geophysics (3)
Marine Depositional Environments (3)
Field and Laboratory Studies in Geoscience (3)

300 level

Environmental Geology (3)
Environmental Quality and Assessment (3)
Exploration and Environmental Geophysics I (3)
PACE in Earth and Planetary Sciences (3)
9cp from
ENVS units at 300 level
GEOS units at 300 level


Units marked with a C are Capstone units.
Units marked with a P are PACE units.
Additional Information
Overview and Aims of the Program Environmental Geology is the branch of earth science that deals with the interaction of people and the geological environment, including issues arising from human occupation and exploitation of the Earth. The environmental geology major provides the fundamentals of geoscience with an emphasis on the impact of people on the Earth.

This major exposes students to a broad spectrum of environmental geology, including earth materials, earth dynamics, geological hazards, resource exploration, environmental geochemistry including site remediation, and environmental and groundwater geophysics. Students develop the in-depth knowledge they need to pursue professional careers in the private sector, government or to undertake advanced postgraduate study.

The major includes units that have field work as one of the learning activities. These activities provide students with a hands-on, practical approach to earth and environmental science. Other learning activities include practical and laboratory sessions that provide students with an opportunity to learn skills that can be applied in the field and laboratory.
Graduate Capabilities

The Graduate Capabilities Framework articulates the fundamentals that underpin all of Macquarie’s academic programs. It expresses these as follows:

Cognitive capabilities
(K) discipline specific knowledge and skills
(T) critical, analytical and integrative thinking
(P) problem solving and research capability
(I) creative and innovative

Interpersonal or social capabilities
(C) effective communication
(E) engaged and ethical local and global citizens
(A) socially and environmentally active and responsible

Personal capabilities
(J) capable of professional and personal judgement and initiative
(L) commitment to continuous learning

Program Learning Outcomes By the end of this program it is anticipated you should be able to:

1. identify and understand the key properties of geological materials such as rocks, minerals, sediments, ores and petroleum (K)
2. identify key geological systems and their physical and chemical expression within the Earth (K, T)
3. describe the manner of interactions between Earth materials and geological systems, and interpret the record of these interactions both in space and time (K, T, P, C)
4. describe the relationship between Earth systems and landscape evolution (K, T)
5. discuss the impact of humans on natural Earth systems and how this can have societal implications (K, T, P, E, A, I)
6. assess the impact of humans on natural Earth systems (K, T, P, I)
7. describe basic geological, geophysical, and geochemical techniques used to assess, remediate and monitor damaged environments (K).

8. collect data for analysis, including field observations and measurements of both the natural and modified environment and apply this to describe, interpret and predict geological relationships and models (K, T, P, I, C)
9. use microscopic and macroscopic techniques to identify rock types, minerals, sediments, and ores and their physical properties (K, T)
10. integrate geological and geochemical techniques to assess the extent of environmental degradation, and to monitor and remediate damaged environments (K, T, P, I, C, E, A, J).

11. co-ordinate and integrate multiple strands of knowledge in order to solve geological and environmental problems through a combination of literature research, field and laboratory studies and theoretical techniques (K, T, P, I, C, E, A, J, L)
12. summarise and effectively communicate scientific understanding. This will include presentation of information, articulating and evaluating arguments and justifying conclusions using a range of mechanisms (oral, written and visual) to diverse audiences for a variety of purposes (K, T, P, I, C, E, A, J)
13. demonstrate a capacity for self-directed learning (I, J, L)
14. demonstrate ability to work in a team (P, I, C)
15. demonstrate ability to work towards deadlines (P, I, J)
16. work in a safe and responsible manner in the community and environment (K, C, E, A, J).
Learning and Teaching Methods Students are encouraged throughout this program to acquire the relevant subject skills, methods, knowledge and understanding through a variety of independent and collaborative activities. Primarily students attend a series of lectures and closely integrated practical classes that over the length of the program build up their basic knowledge of the discipline. Towards the middle and the end of the program students learn how to acquire data in both the field and laboratory, how to analyse and interpret data in order produce scientific reports. Students also produce scientific assignments in the form of literature research projects which amplify aspects of their core skills. Towards the end of the program, students gain skills in communicating their results through presentations, in addition to critically assessing the works of others and communicating those results to their colleagues. The program is structured to promote and steadily encourage independent learning. An emphasis on field studies is prevalent in the mid and later stages.
Assessment The assessment methods are mostly based on the submission of individual coursework. This can range from undertaking numerical and descriptive assignments; to oral presentations; to the production of scientific reports; and to the examination of learnt knowledge in quizzes and exams. Field reports are also a critical aspect of assessment.

The program incorporates formative and summative feedback. Formative feedback is that which is received whilst students are working on a task, often during "hands on" practical sessions or fieldwork. Summative feedback is that received once students have completed a task. Both forms of feedback are extremely important and provide students with information and guidance on their development and progress. Feedback may be provided in written form or simply in discussion with peers and teachers.

One important aspect of the program is the emphasis on students communicating their own findings as well as understanding and dissecting the work of others. This comes to the fore in the later part of the program where students give presentations and produce reports on the works of others and themselves.

Toward the end of the program there is one substantial assessment event that requires students to integrate and exhibit their skills, knowledge and application. This event involves the production of several large field maps by students working in groups, who then interpret that data and to produce an individual scientific report and geological interpretation.
Recognition of Prior Learning

Macquarie University may recognise prior formal, informal and non-formal learning for the purpose of granting credit towards, or admission into, a program. The recognition of these forms of learning is enabled by the University’s Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) Policy (see and its associated Procedures and Guidelines. The RPL pages contain information on how to apply, links to registers, and the approval processes for recognising prior learning for entry or credit. 

Domestic Students
For undergraduate RPL information visit
For domestic postgraduate RPL information visit

International Students
For RPL information visit

Support for Learning

Macquarie University aspires to be an inclusive and supportive community of learners where all students are given the opportunity to meet their academic and personal goals. The University offers a comprehensive range of free and accessible student support services which include academic advice, counselling and psychological services, advocacy services and welfare advice, careers and employment, disability services and academic skills workshops amongst others. There is also a bulk billing medical service located on campus.

Further information can be found at

Campus Wellbeing contact details:
Phone: +61 2 9850 7497

Program Standards and Quality

The program is subject to an ongoing comprehensive process of quality review in accordance with a pre-determined schedule that complies with the Higher Education Standards Framework. The review is overseen by Macquarie University's peak academic governance body, the Academic Senate and takes into account feedback received from students, staff and external stakeholders.

Graduate Destinations and Employability Students who complete a major in Environmental Geology are prepared for work with environmental and groundwater consultancies, geotechnical consultancies, government agencies dealing with environmental and geotechnical issues, and further studies in higher education.

The capstone unit has lectures and workshops delivered by industry representatives. A PACE unit is required providing an opportunity for studies to apply their knowledge and skills in a professional setting.
Assessment Regulations

This program is subject to Macquarie University regulations, including but not limited to those specified in the Assessment Policy, Academic Honesty Policy, the Final Examination Policy and relevant University Rules. For all approved University policies, procedures, guidelines and schedules visit

2017 Unit Information

When offered:
S1 Day
Permission of Executive Dean of Faculty
HSC Chinese, CHN113, CHN148