Monash University

Undergraduate - Area of study

Students who commenced study in 2014 should refer to this area of study entry for direction on the requirments; to check which units are currently available for enrolment, refer to the unit indexes in the the current edition of the Handbook. If you have any queries contact the managing faculty for your area of study.

print version

This area of study entry applies to students commencing this course in 2014 and should be read in conjunction with the relevant course entry in the Handbook. Any 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
CoordinatorDr Vanessa Wong (Levels one to three); Associate Professor David Dunkerley (Honours)


  • Unit codes that are not linked to their entry in the Handbook are not available for study in the current year.


Geographical science investigates the evolving character of the Earth's biophysical and constructed environment in the past, present and future. It is concerned with spatial processes operating in the landscape such as atmospheric circulation, landform change, vegetation dynamics, human land uses, urbanisation, and economic activity. Geographical science includes interdisciplinary analysis that uses methods and techniques from social and physical sciences to find innovative solutions to environmental problems at different spatial scales.

Learning outcomes

Graduates will be able to:

  • comprehend the major areas of geographical knowledge, including climatology, hydrology, geomorphology, soil science, sustainability theory, urban geography, and principles of sustainability
  • discuss means by which geographical knowledge informs approaches to managing the sustainable use of Australian environments
  • exemplify how geographical knowledge relates to work in other fields of scientific research
  • develop an awareness of both traditional and modern approaches to the development of new geographical knowledge
  • demonstrate knowledge of how to work with both numerical and spatial or map data, including the use of geographical information systems
  • demonstrate the capacity to work independently and in small groups, in the production of reports and in the manipulation of geographical data
  • identify the importance of geographical knowledge to scientific enquiry, and to the management of human stewardship of natural resources
  • comprehend the significance of geographical variation among locations and environments to the management of human occupation and use of ecosystems and landscapes
  • evaluate and analyse geographical data, including data from fieldwork and laboratory study
  • demonstrate a basic working competence in the use of GIS and related methods for working with geospatial data
  • communicate to a reader or to an audience effectively and clearly
  • develop an awareness of various numerical and graphical modes of communication used in geographical work
  • demonstrate the ability to work both individually and as a member of a small team, in the acquisition, analysis, and reporting of geographical knowledge
  • recognise the importance of personal decisions and attitudes, especially in relation to national and global resource consumption, in the development of a just and sustainable community.


Level one

  • ATS1301 Australian physical environments: Evolution, status and management
  • ATS1309 The global challenge
  • ATS1310 Extreme earth! Natural hazards and human vulnerability

Level two

  • ATS2545/ATS3545 Environmental hydrology
  • ATS2547 Cities and sustainability
  • ATS2548 Environmental policy and management
  • ATS2628 Power and poverty: International development in a globablised world
  • ATS2774 Understanding Australian landscapes: Soil-vegetation dynamics
  • ATS2776 Climatology: Land, ecosystems and the atmosphere
  • ATS2778 Public spaces and city life
  • ATS2779 Climate change and variability
  • ATS2780 Geographical analysis

Level three

  • ATS3259 Geographical information systems (GIS) for environmental management
  • ATS3281 Cultural landscape, environment and sustainability in Italy
  • ATS3283 Sharing prosperity
  • ATS3546 Environmental assessment and decision making
  • ATS3552 Remote sensing of the environment
  • ATS3553 Field studies in regional sustainability*
  • ATS3554 Resource evaluation and management
  • ATS3787 Research methods in geography, environment and sustainability
  • ATS3788 Soils, landscape and their management
  • ATS3790 Landscape processes
  • ATS3791 Environmental change: Past to future
  • ATS3887 Designing urban futures: Urban climate, water and adaptation

* There is a limited quota on the number of students permitted to enrol in this unit.

Sequence requirements

Minor sequence in geographical science (24 points)

Major sequence in geographical science (48 points)

  • ATS1310 and one of ATS1301 or ATS1309
  • ATS2780 and 6 or 12 points of level two ATS units from the list above
  • the remaining 18 or 24 points from the level three ATS units from the list above

Double major sequence in geographical science (72 points)

  • ATS1310 and one of ATS1301 or ATS1309
  • ATS2780 and 6 or 12 points of level two ATS units from the list above
  • the remaining points from ATS level two and level three units listed above, with at least 36 points at level three

Requirements for honours in geographical science

  • 24 points of relevant level-three units, of which normally 18 points are from the level three units listed above

Additional information

See coordinator details in table above.

Level one

The primary objective of the syllabus of units at level one is to introduce key concepts for understanding the reciprocal links between people and the natural world, and the spatial processes shaping economy, society, and environmental change. No prior studies in geographical science are required to begin study at level one.

A first-level sequence in geographical science consists of two semester units. In first semester, students enrol in ATS1310. In second semester, they may choose either ATS1301 or ATS1309. Students planning a comprehensive introduction to geographical science may take all three units.

Students in course 3544 Bachelor of Environmental Science (only) may substitute ENV1011 (Planet earth: Our place in the universe) and ENV1022 (Australian physical environments: Evolution, status and management) for level one units in any sequence in geographical science.

Level two

The syllabus at level two permits students to select from a variety of sub-fields in geographical science. The satisfactory completion of a minor sequence in geographical science equips students with an understanding of the complex interdependence of human activities and diversity of geographical approaches concerning the interrelationships of place, people and environment.

Level three

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 geographical science, students would normally complete 24 points at level three.


In addition to the requirements listed above, students must meet the entry requirements for the science honours program relevant to their course of enrolment. See the entries for:

  • 3520 Bachelor of Science Advanced (Research)
  • 0051 Honours degree of Bachelor of Science
  • 2188 Honours degree of Bachelor of Science (Science Scholar Program)

Full details regarding the course structure for honours in this area of study are outlined in course 0051 Honours degree of Bachelor of Science.

Relevant courses

Single degrees

  • 3544 Bachelor of Environmental Science
  • 0050 Bachelor of Science
  • 3550 Bachelor of Science Advanced (Global Challenges)
  • 3520 Bachelor of Science Advanced (Research)

Double degrees

  • 0530 Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science
  • 3537 Bachelor of Arts (Global) and Bachelor of Science
  • 1469 Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Science
  • 3517 Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Computer Science
  • 3711 Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Education
  • 1633 Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Education
  • 4646 Bachelor of Environmental Engineering (Honours) and Bachelor of Science
  • 0086 Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Laws

Honours degrees

  • 0051 Honours degree of Bachelor of Science
  • 2188 Honours degree of Bachelor of Science (Science Scholar Program)