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Monash University

Monash University Handbook 2010 Undergraduate - Area of Study

All areas of study information should be read in conjunction with the relevant course entry in the Handbook. The units listed for this area of study relate only to the 'Requirements' outlined in the Faculty of Science component of any bachelors double degrees.

Managing facultyFaculty of Science
Offered bySchool of Geography and Environmental Science
Course coordinatorListed below for each level.


Geography is concerned with the relationships between people and the natural environment, and includes 'physical' (eg landscape processes) and 'human' (eg cityscapes and population migration) geographies. It employs a variety of spatial and temporal techniques to understand these various landscapes, or components of them, and provide a basis for their rational management.

The geography and environmental science sequence has been developed to suit local educational and vocational demands, but is otherwise fully representative of geography's international profile. Its goal is to develop a mature understanding of the following: the key characteristics of places; the complex interdependence of human activities; the roles of human agency in the transformation of the earth's surface; and the availability of a rich diversity of approaches to the accumulation of knowledge concerning the interrelationships of place, people and environment.

The term 'environment' is employed at every level in the geography curriculum. It considers the following: the notion of ''natural' environments unaltered by human activity; human-modified environments representing profound alterations over vast areas of the globe and including, most notably, agricultural systems and rural settlement; and even more 'artificial' environments such as industrialised regions and urban areas.

An appreciation of the importance of field and laboratory-based observations is required at all levels, especially in physical geography options. Computer techniques are considered highly relevant, from a minimum expectation of basic keyboard skills to the integration of sophisticated analytical methods in later segments of the program.


On completion of the sequence in geography and environmental science students will:

(a.) have a mature understanding of the:

  • key characteristics of places
  • complex interdependence of human activities
  • roles of human agency in the transformation of the Earth's surface
  • availability of a rich diversity of approaches to the accumulation of knowledge concerning the interrelationships of place, people and environment

(b.) come to an appreciation of internal variations of landscape and activity within 'natural' environments, human-modified environments and 'artificial' environments such as industrialised regions and urban areas

(c.) have developed the following capabilities:

  • identification, description, measurement and classification of phenomena
  • application of acquired knowledge to new situations
  • formulation and testing of hypotheses, using qualitative and quantitative techniques as appropriate
  • employment of effective modes of communication through participation in oral discussion sessions, the preparation of written reports and data presentation
  • critical explorations of attitudes, values and prejudices
  • systematic interpretation of phenomena in the field and laboratory, especially in physical geography.


Level one

  • GES1020 Australian physical environments: Evolution, status and management
  • GES1050 The global challenge
  • GES1070 Natural hazards and human vulnerability

Level two

  • GES2130 Soils, land use and the environment
  • GES2160 Coastal geomorphology and management
  • GES2170 Biogeography - The status of Australian biota
  • GES2190 Climatology: Surface-atmosphere processes and interactions
  • GES2210 Environmental hydrology
  • GES2340 Cities and sustainability
  • GES2460 Environmental policy and management
  • GES2660 Power and poverty: Geographies of uneven global development
  • GES2760 Place and the politics of identity
  • GES2860 Climate change and variability
  • GES2910 Fundamentals of geographic information science

Level three

  • GES3070 Remote sensing of the environment
  • GES3240 Geomorphology and soils
  • GES3250 Environmental assessment and decision making
  • GES3260 Cultural landscape, environment and sustainability in Italy
  • GES3270 Research project in geography and environmental science
  • GES3330 Field studies in regional sustainability (subject to strict quota)
  • GES3350 Resource evaluation and management
  • GES3360 Soils, landscape and their management
  • GES3370 Applied environmental climatology
  • GES3420 Researching human environments
  • GES3520 Social space: Urban justice
  • GES3530 Landscape processes
  • GES3555 Environmental change: Past to future
  • GES3610 Geographical information systems for business and social science applications
  • GES3750 Sharing prosperity: Geographies of work, regional development and economy
  • GES3810/GES3820 Geographical information systems (GIS) for environmental management

Sequence requirements

Minor sequence in geography and environmental science (24 points)

Major sequence in geography and environmental science (48 points)

  • GES1070 and one of GES1020 or GES1050
  • 12 or 18 points of GES units at level two
  • the remaining 18 or 24 points from GES units at level three

Some related sequences are also described in the Atmospheric science entry in this section of the Handbook.

Note: Students in course 2340 Bachelor of Environmental Science (only) may substitute ENV1011 (Planet earth and its environment: The cosmic connection) and ENV1022 (Australian physical environments: Evolution, status and management) for level one GES units in any sequence in geography and environmental science.


Level one

Coordinator: Dr Haripriya Rangan (School of Geography and Environmental Science, Faculty of Arts)

The primary objective of the syllabus of units at level one is to explore human impacts on the environment and to introduce key concepts in physical and human geography. No prior studies in geography are required to begin study at level one.

A first-level sequence in geography consists of two semester units. In first semester, students enrol in GES1070. In second semester, they may choose either GES1020 or GES1050. Students planning a comprehensive introduction to geography may take all three units.

Level two

Coordinator: Dr Jason Beringer (School of Geography and Environmental Science, Faculty of Arts)

The syllabus at level two permits students to select from a variety of systematic sub-disciplines. The satisfactory completion of a minor sequence in geography equips students with an appreciation of the nature of the unit as a whole and with knowledge of the fundamental contents and approaches contained within one or both of its human and physical branches.

Level three

Coordinator: Dr Stephen Legg (School of Geography and Environmental Science, Faculty of Arts)

At level three, students elect to enrol in one or more of the main systematic fields which are intended to challenge them with appropriate advanced material and to intensify their familiarity with the purpose and practice of original research work. To obtain a major in geography, students would normally complete 24 points at level three.


Coordinator: Dr Christian Kull (School of Geography and Environmental Science, Faculty of Arts)

Students proceeding into the fourth year, or honours year, have the further opportunity to consolidate their understanding of an area (or areas) of specialisation, while pursuing a research topic under expert supervision. Mid-year entry is offered by the school, subject to the availability of places. Combined honours may be taken in the School of Geography and Environmental Science and another discipline, provided that all honours requirements have been met in both disciplines and subject to the approval of the heads of school.

Full details regarding entrance requirements and course structure for honours is described in the course entry in this Handbook for the course 0051 Honours degree of Bachelor of Science.