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?

Understanding how our planet works has never been more important. Society, governments and industry need more people than ever who can address these challenges. Beyond that, there is an increasing need for experts in other areas to have a basic understanding of the earth system, so our future engineers, policymakers, health professionals, teachers and communicators are coming to us to add this knowledge to their skillset. Your first year studies in the School of Earth, Atmosphere and Environment provide you with an overview of the major forces that shape our planet. You will gain the skills and knowledge which will allow you to pursue a career in an earth science field, or to support your studies in other areas of study. We do not have any prerequisites for our first year units, and students from all backgrounds are welcome to study with us. For those new to the area, we do not assume any related VCE studies. For those with some related background, you will find that the scope and application of our first year units develops and extends your understanding.

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
Explores the structure and evolution of the climate system. It explains 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. It is an interdisciplinary science that can draw on the strengths of environmental science, applied mathematics and/or physical geography and applies concepts of physics and chemistry. Climate and atmospheric science offers a balance of field work, data analysis, theoretical research, policy frameworks and numerical modelling that is taught by experts in each area and which is supported by state of the art facilities. People who study climate and atmospheric science can expect to work in closely-aligned sectors such as the Bureau of Meteorology or consultancies that deal with weather and climate, advisory government or non-government organisation roles or in a broad range of industries such as risk management for banks and insurance companies. You can study these topics in the Climate and Atmospheric Science major and the Earth’s Climate stream of the Earth Science Major.

There are two streams available within this major:

  • Weather and Climate stream:
    Do you want to know how a tornado or a tropical cyclone works? Ever wondered why we can make accurate weather forecasts? This stream examines the major physical forces that affect the behaviour of the atmosphere.
  • Climate Change Science” stream:
    What does the science say about human-induced climate change? How do we know what the climate has been in the past? Get familiar with policy frameworks concerning climate change and how we can respond to this urgent issue.

Earth Science
Geologists understand that the Earth, its continents and oceans are always changing and that nothing ever stays the same. How the Earth changes with time is recorded in the rocks that we see at the surface. Understanding geology is vital to better predict geological hazards, find the many resources that humanity needs, and to manage and protect the Earth. By studying geosciences, you will learn how to read Earth’s history from rocks, how geological processes such as plate tectonics are continuously shaping our planet by creating new mountains and new oceans. Volcanoes, earthquakes, landslides and tsunamis are all expressions of these processes and they also form the critical mineral resources needed for our renewable energy future. Geology also provides an understanding of past climates that can be used to predict the impacts of anthropogenic climate change. You will have lecturers that have carried out expeditions to some of the most remote parts of the continents and oceans, and they will take you on field trips to some of the best geological locations in Victoria and beyond. At the end of your education you will be in a position to better understand what shapes the Earth and what is under our feet. This is the basis for careers ranging from engineering to environmental work, including mineral exploration and hazard mitigation. You can study these topics in the Geoscience stream of the Earth Science Major.

The Earth Sciences major has three streams:

  • Geosciences stream:
    You will learn about geological processes: plate tectonics, basin formation, volcanology, earthquakes, and formation of the critical mineral resources needed for our transition to a renewable energy future.
  • Earth’s Physical Environment stream:
    You will learn about the interaction of physical systems with the biosphere (rivers, groundwater, soils, landscapes).
  • Earth’s Climate stream:
    You will learn how to understand and predict natural and anthropogenic climate change and its impacts.

Geographical Science / Physical Geography Science
Do you want to save the world? Developing sustainable solutions to maintain Earth’s natural environment, combat environmental degradation, alleviate the impacts of climate change, and to ensure food and water security requires wide-ranging expertise in the physical environmental sciences, examined through the lens of human influence. Our physical geography program fosters global change-makers for environmental problems by examining these problems through a geographic lens. Through our program, you will develop the knowledge and skills required to contribute to creating and maintaining a sustainable environmental future. Physical geography at Monash allows you to explore the geographical and environmental processes that control our natural environment, and how these are shaped by complex human interactions. You will examine how our land, oceans, biosphere and atmosphere work together to create Earth’s diverse and unique landscapes and ecosystems; from frozen Antarctic deserts to equatorial tropical rainforests. You will discover how these processes shape the world in which we live and how we, in turn, have shaped and changed our natural world. Our units focus on understanding the Earth’s environments and how they change across space and time, examining the landscapes and climates in which we live, the soils we need to grow our food, and the water that we drink. We combine solid foundations in key knowledge in classroom and laboratory settings with real-world experiences of fieldwork in both Australian and international settings. All our units build problem-solving, critical thinking and technical skills for developing effective, evidenced-based strategies to contribute to solutions for today’s most pressing environmental challenges. Our graduates are job-ready and excel in careers in consulting, natural resource management, government, research, non-profit, agriculture and education sectors. You can study these topics in the Geographical Science major and the Earth’s Physical Environment stream of the Earth Science Major.

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 :

What to expect in first year

Course unitWhat you can study in first year

Introduce yourself to the science involved in studying the Earth, including explanations of how and why our planet has changed over its 4.56 billion year history. You will study the formation and anatomy of the Earth and the processes that drive change within our planet and its environmental systems; from its core to its crust, to the systems driving and sustaining the planet’s living surface, to the forces and processes involved in the development of mountains, ice sheets and oceans, and our changing atmosphere and climate.
EAE1022Expand your knowledge of the environmental, geological and atmospheric processes that create the unique physical environment in which we live, and learn how these processes influence our lives and affect the society in which we live. You will examine how and why the Earth’s surface, atmosphere, ice sheets and oceans have changed in the past, and are predicted to change in the future, as a result of human influences such as deforestation, agricultural practices and human-induced climate change.
ATS1310Focus on the catastrophes of our world today, such as droughts, earthquakes, epidemics, fires, floods, hurricanes, landslides, tsunamis and weather extremes. You will seek to understand the mechanics and dynamics of these environmental phenomena and how they interact with the social contexts in which these disasters occur. You will also investigate the role of international aid and risk management using local and international case studies.

Follow the story of our changing climate from a global perspective. Starting from the basic principles and processes that define and govern the Earth’s climate, this unit explores how the different parts of the Earth interact to produce the rich past and current variability of climate in space and time, and how human influences are shaping the future of the Earth’s climate. This unit investigates 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. This unit will provide you with the foundation and knowledge to respond to climate change challenges throughout their career, independent of their specific discipline.

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