Future students

Welcome to the School of Earth, Atmosphere and Environment

Study with us, change the world

To shape our world for a sustainable future, you need to know how it works

  • Physical, chemical and biological processes have worked together to make the surface of our planet what it is today. But how do these landscapes form and how and why do they change?
  • Did you know that the Earth behaves as one big magnet?
  • Have you ever considered that the Earth’s resources are a consequence of the interaction between the deep mantle interior of the Earth and the movement of thin plates that form the skin of the Earth?
  • Ever wondered why we can make accurate weather forecasts?
  • Do you want to know how a tornado works?
  • What does the science really say about human-induced climate change?

Studies in Earth, Atmosphere and Environment (EAE) encompasses the whole Earth system, from the core of the Earth to our planet’s atmosphere. Our purpose is to better understand the world around us in order to find solutions to contemporary global challenges. Students explore ways to tackle climate change, take on measures to preserve our local ecologies and secure sustainable resources, predict weather and identify natural hazards.

The School of Earth, Atmosphere and Environment offers a cross-disciplinary approach to learning, with integrated teaching concepts from across the Faculties of Science (Biology, Chemistry, Maths and Physics), Arts and Engineering.

Throughout your studies with us, you will also have the opportunity to participate in a myriad of local, interstate and international fieldtrips with field-based units

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Areas of study

The School of Earth, Atmosphere and Environment offers three major and minor sequences:

Climate and Atmospheric Science
Climate and Atmospheric Science is an interdisciplinary science that draws on the strengths of Environmental Science, Applied Mathematics and Physical Geography. It also applies concepts derived from Physics and Chemistry.  Weather and climate are both critical to understanding the natural environment and how it is changing with human influence. Climate and Atmospheric Science explores the structure and evolution of the physical climate system, explaining how the weather and climate system works, from a gust of wind to global-scale climate change as well as addressing how we forecast our weather and project future climate change.

Earth Science
Earth Science is a broad discipline that addresses the major processes that have shaped our planet over deep geological time and continue to pose natural hazards to society, but also provide elements that we need to sustain a modern society. You will learn about geological processes (plate tectonics, basin formation, volcanology, earthquakes, and the formation of ore deposits); the Earth’s physical environment (such as rivers, groundwater, soils, and landscapes) and the interaction of physical systems with the biosphere; and/or the Earth’s climate and how we understand and predict natural and anthropogenic climate change.

Geographical Science
Geographical Science is the interdisciplinary study of understanding how natural and human processes affect our planet including soils, vegetation, water, landforms and climate throughout time. You will learn to analyse and synthesise complex environmental, economic, social and political information to enable a geographical understanding of humans, environments and the planet.

Environmental and climate units offered by EAE also form part of the Environmental Science extended major managed by the School of Biological Sciences.

Our majors can be completed in the following :

Research project: EAE3000

Third year undergraduate students have the opportunity to take on a major research project, which will introduce you to current research in the Earth, Atmospheric or Environmental sciences.

Climate change: SCI1300

Students University-wide are encouraged to participate in our specialised climate change unit. Upon completion of this unit, students will be equipped with the essential scientific background to investigate what options humankind has to respond to the economic, ethical and political challenges of climate change, including global and national governance models required to mitigate and adapt to its effects.

The School of Earth, Atmosphere and Environment is focused on the future. We aim to educate the next generation of scientists to find environmental solutions for society and the planet. This includes leading research and education on:

  • understanding the processes and elements that have shaped the Earth since its formation from which we source critical mineral resources needed to power renewable energy, but which also create hazards such as volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, landslides and tsunamis;
  • the fundamental weather and climate science required to predict changes in the atmosphere, ocean and cryosphere;
  • the impacts of environmental changes on cities, forests, coasts, rivers, glaciers, soil and water.

After taking our first year sequence, our undergraduate course majors, streams and unit specialisations will allow you to harness the breadth of all your life and physical science studies while applying them in specialised fields of your choosing across Earth science, Geography and Environment, and Climate and Atmosphere. Choose to study specialised fields such as;

Oceanography and Coastal Science
Learn biological, chemical and physical oceanography. You will explore ocean circulation and mixing, ocean chemistry and biological productivity. Learn about local coastal processes such as erosion that pose significant management challenges for coastal societies as well as global societal concerns such as sea level rise, overfishing and pollution.

Soil Science and Land Management
Soils are critical for food and water security, effective nutrient cycling for terrestrial ecosystems and sustaining human life. You can explore alternative land uses and sustainable land management techniques and engage in the sustainable management of soil resources which are critical for agricultural production, support terrestrial ecosystems and provide a range of ecosystem services.

Remote Sensing and GIS
Gain experience in the use of GIS and remote sensing technologies, including satellite and UAV datasets. Equip yourself with the fundamental knowledge and essential skills in constructing, collecting, managing, analysing, integrating and communicating spatial data and information, for environmental, earth, geographical, and atmospheric sciences, as well as other spatial studies.

Environmental Chemistry
Learn about nitrogen, carbon, phosphorous, heavy metal and elemental cycling in the biosphere, lithosphere and hydrosphere, how humans impact on these cycles and how to remediate contaminated environments. You will learn lab, field and computational methods to quantify chemicals in solutions and other mediums, and measure chemical processes in natural and contaminated environments.

Modelling and coding
Scientific models simplify complex real-life phenomena and improve our understanding and predictability of many Earth systems such as environmental processes, climate change, tectonism, magma mixing, atmospheric circulation and ice sheet projections. You will study relevant physical and mathematical concepts, learn to code, and use cutting edge software environments.

Glaciers and Ice Sheets
Develop a deep understanding of the factors and processes driving and affecting the cryosphere. Study the Greenland and Antarctic Ice Sheets, glaciers, sea ice and the Earth’s changing climate.

Economic Geology
Learn about the geological systems responsible for the formation of metalliferous ore deposits and the mineral resources that are essential for our renewable energy future.

Structural Geology, Geodynamics and Geophysics
Plate tectonics drives rock deformation as continents collide or split into two, initiating earthquakes, forming ocean basins and building mountains. Observe, identify and measure structural elements in the field, model and analyse three-dimensional structure from geological maps, and apply geometric, kinematic and dynamic analysis to global-scale tectonics and geodynamics.

Groundwater is a critical resource and an essential component of the natural environment. Study groundwater flow and the hydrological cycle, groundwater chemistry and the origins of solutes in water, use of isotopic tracers to understand hydrological processes, the interaction between groundwater and surface water, groundwater as a resource, and contamination of groundwater. Understand groundwater and surface water resources for water security and environmental management.

Future Climates and Palaeoclimatology
Examine the evolution of Earth's climate from the formation of our planet to the present including the history and context of humankind and how past changes relate to anthropogenic climate change. What does the science really say about human-induced climate change? How do we know what the climate has been in the past? Get familiar with international policy frameworks for dealing with climate change and global and local mitigation responses.

Geochemistry and Mineralogy
Geochemistry has many applications in industry and scientific research; from understanding environmental and societal issues such as explosive volcanism and mining waste, to tracing the beginnings of the planet or performing advanced analytical chemistry for industrial purposes. If you enjoy inorganic chemistry or crystallography, you will love learning about minerals and discovering their many useful and often beautiful properties.

Dynamical and Physical Meteorology
Do you want to know how a tornado works? Ever wondered why we can make accurate weather forecasts? Physical meteorology examines the major physical forces that affect the behaviour of the atmosphere, specifically radiative transfer and precipitation. Discover how we use remote satellite and ground-based instrumentation to understand and plan for weather. Study the development of precipitation, as well as the interaction between clouds and aerosols; the motion of a density-stratified fluid in a rotating frame of reference; 'homogeneous flows' in the atmosphere and ocean; shallow-water and Rossby-wave motion; western boundary currents; internal gravity waves and thermal-wind balance.

Field Geology and Mapping
Hone your skills in surveying, landscape interpretation, and making expert observations to construct geological maps and cross-sections. Understand how to determine the geological history of complex poly-deformed terrane, assess mineralogical information on-the-ground, and communicate spatial information for exploration geosciences and research endeavours.

As part of your major studies with us, you can also undertake a specialised research project in a discipline of your choosing. Such projects are tailored to your research interests and can include disciplines as diverse as palaeontology, meteorite and planetary sciences, soil sciences, coastal processes, and atmospheric modelling.

"The choice is yours!"

After completing an undergraduate degree you may have further opportunities to become part of our vibrant research community and undertake an Honours project, Master’s degree or a PhD and in doing so will continue to be trained as an independent leader in your field of interest and speciality.

Your career network

We have our eye on your future and we work collaboratively with industry so our students develop an early link with real-world problems. EAE has links with employers including:

  • Melbourne Water
  • The Bureau of Meteorology
  • Snowy Hydro
  • Hydro Tasmania
  • ESSO
  • Rio Tinto
  • Mount Isa Mines
  • MMG
  • AusIMM
  • Navarre Minerals
  • Agnew Gold
  • MTEC
  • Shell International
  • Geoscience Australia
  • Victorian Department of Land, Water and Planning
  • Transport and Resources
  • and a number of Co-operative Research Centres

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Contact us

For further information please contact:


phone +61 3 9905 5767