Monash University

Undergraduate - Area of study

Students who commenced study in 2015 should refer to this area of study entry for direction on the requirements; 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.

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This area of study entry applies to students commencing this course in 2015 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 Earth, Atmosphere and Environment
CoordinatorMs Marion Anderson (Level one); Associate Professor Jeffrey Stilwell (Level two); Associate Professor Jeffrey Stilwell (Level three); Dr Laurent Ailleres (Honours)


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


Geosciences is a multidisciplinary science that seeks to understand the Earth's dynamic systems. The geosciences program provides students with an insight into both present-day processes and how the Earth has changed over geological time, including an understanding of how its chemical, physical and biological systems (e.g. plate tectonics, volcanoes, mountain belts, ocean basins, earthquakes, groundwater and surface water, the biosphere and the atmosphere) are interrelated, and how they have shaped the planet on which we live. Additionally, units in environmental geosciences, mineral and petroleum exploration, and geophysics provide training in applied geosciences, teaching students about sustainable use of the Earth's resources. Specialty streams within the geosciences include geology, environmental geosciences, geophysics, geochemistry, volcanology and palaeontology. In addition, the discipline draws on, and has links with, numerous allied sciences such as physics, chemistry, biology, geographical science, computational science, mathematics and atmospheric science.

The core geosciences program examines the major geological processes on planet Earth within a plate tectonic framework. All units are multidisciplinary and reflect both the broad scope and the interaction between the different Earth systems. Further, the units develop transferable skills such as logical thinking, data manipulation, problem solving, team building, research and communication. Careers in geosciences are varied and include mining and mineral exploration, petroleum exploration, marine science, groundwater and surface water resource management, teaching, geological engineering and geotechnical surveys, environmental consulting, and geological survey work. There are also opportunities for geosciences research and development in the university, government, and private sectors. Additionally, the transferable skills developed are in wide demand within the science and non-science sectors of the economy.

Learning outcomes

Graduates will be able to:

  • explain the current hypotheses on the main geological processes that have controlled the evolution of the Earth and the timescales over which they operate
  • demonstrate detailed technical field- and/or lab-based skills and understanding in several sub-disciplines of geoscience, which may include economic geology, metamorphic petrology, igneous petrology, structural geology, geodynamics, environmental geoscience, sedimentology, geological mapping, hydrogeology, geophysics, palaeontology, volcanology and meteoritics/planetary science
  • collect or generate, then integrate and apply geoscientific data to analyse challenges and to develop effective solutions in professional contexts
  • convey ideas and results effectively to diverse audiences and in a variety of formats
  • work and learn in both independent and collaborative ways that accommodate diverse abilities and perspectives
  • explain the importance of the geosciences to the human endeavour.


Level one

  • ESC1011 Planet earth: Our place in the universe
  • ESC1022 Planet earth: Surface processes

Level two

  • ESC2111 The dynamic earth I: Mountain belts and basins
  • ESC2122 The dynamic earth II: Global processes

Level three

  • ESC3162 Ore deposit geology and global metallogeny
  • ESC3180 Field mapping
  • ESC3190 Hydrogeology and environmental geoscience
  • ESC3200 Earth sciences project
  • ESC3201 Deformation of the crust
  • ESC3232 The dynamic biosphere: Changing fauna and flora through geological time
  • ESC3311 Geophysics: Regional mapping
  • ESC3332 Global dynamics and crustal evolution
  • ESC3340 Geophysics: Special topics
  • ESC3421 Igneous and metamorphic processes and geochemistry
  • ESC3900 Dynamic earth

Sequence requirements

Minor in geosciences (24 points)

Major in geosciences (48 points)

Extended major in geosciences (72 points)

Requirements for honours in geosciences

Additional information

See coordinator details in table above.

Level one

First year students studying geosciences should include the 12-point combination ESC1011 (or ENV1011 for Bachelor of Environmental Science students) and ESC1022 along with SCI1020 (Introduction to statistical reasoning) or STA1010 (Statistical methods for science), and at least one of chemistry, physics, biology, mathematics, computational science or geographical science. Students aiming to specialise in palaeontology should also take units from biological sciences. Similarly those with interests in environmental science are advised to take two of biology, chemistry and geographical science, while those with interests in geophysics are advised to take physics and/or mathematics.

ESC1011 is of interest to students seeking a broad overview of earth and environmental sciences. ESC1022 provides a continued overview of geosciences, in particular the processes that have shaped the Earth's crust through its evolution.

Both ESC1011/ENV1011 and ESC1022 have one-day field trips to sites of geological significance.

Level two

In the second year of the geosciences curriculum, students will gain a firm understanding of global-scale geological processes, including plate tectonics, mountain building and sedimentation, mineral science, and volcanism. In addition to lecture and laboratory-based exercises, students will participate in several field-based activities that will sharpen their skills of data collection and interpretation of both small and large-scale geological structures.

In ESC2111, students will learn to interpret past geo-tectonic environments by deciphering stratigraphic and structural elements preserved in mountain belts and sedimentary basins. Because most of our planet is made of minerals, students will delve increasingly into the relationships between the structure, chemistry, physical and optical properties of minerals in ESC2122. Students will explore these concepts through laboratory exercises on crystal morphology and symmetry, optical mineralogy, and electron microscopy. An introduction to groundwater movement and quality emphasising its use and abuse by humans is also treated in ESC2122. Groundwater topics include predicting flow patterns, interactions with surface water, well drilling and pumping, groundwater contamination and remediation, and distribution of groundwater resources throughout Australia.

Students planning to complete a major in geosciences are required to complete ESC2111 and ESC2122.

At least one other coherent package of 12 points at level two from another area of study (chemistry, physics, mathematics and statistics, biological sciences, computational science, geographical science) should be taken.

ESC2111 and ESC2122 are also available to students wishing to take them as independent units to support other studies. Students not intending to proceed to level-three studies in geosciences may take any combination of level-two geosciences units.

Geophysics involves the application of physics, mathematics and computer methods to the investigation of the Earth's interior. Students who intend to major in geosciences are strongly advised to discuss their program with relevant members of staff.

Level three

The level-three program in geosciences consists of several 6-point units in geology, geophysics and environmental geosciences that may be taken in any combination depending on the student's interests and the units completed at level two. Students interested in continuing with geosciences at honours or master's level or becoming professional geologists, geophysicists or environmental geoscientists should take 48 points of level three geoscience units. Students wishing to undertake honours in geosciences must complete at least 24 points of level three ESC units, including 18 points from ESC3162, ESC3190, ESC3201, ESC3232, ESC3311, ESC3332, ESC3421 or ESC3900. Students wishing to complete a major in geosciences but not to progress to honours may take any combination of level three ESC units. Students should choose units with regard to their interests, experience and future aspirations. Advice on suitable combinations of units for various geosciences streams is available from the School of Geosciences and all students are urged to seek advice before choosing sequences of units. Students interested in the geosciences project unit (ESC3200) must obtain permission from the third-year coordinator before enrolling.

Students interested in geophysics should combine the level three units ESC3311 and ESC3332 with other level-three units from geosciences, mathematics or physics.


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:

  • S3002 Bachelor of Science Advanced - Research (Honours)
  • 0051 Bachelor of Science (Honours)
  • 2188 Bachelor of Science (Science Scholar Program) (Honours)

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

Relevant courses

Single degrees

  • 3544 Bachelor of Environmental Science
  • S2000 Bachelor of Science
  • S3001 Bachelor of Science Advanced - Global Challenges (Honours)
  • S3002 Bachelor of Science Advanced - Research (Honours)

Double degrees

  • 4642 Bachelor of Aerospace Engineering (Honours) and Bachelor of Science
  • 0530 Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science
  • 3528 Bachelor of Biomedical Science and Bachelor of Science
  • 1469 Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Science
  • D3005 Bachelor of Education (Honours) and Bachelor of Science
  • 4646 Bachelor of Environmental Engineering (Honours) and Bachelor of Science
  • 4069 Bachelor of Journalism and Bachelor of Science
  • L3007 Bachelor of Laws (Honours) and Bachelor of Science
  • 3517 Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Computer Science
  • 4638 Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Engineering (Honours)
  • S2003 Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Global Studies

Honours degrees

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