EAE3321 - The earth's critical zone - 2018

6 points, SCA Band 2, 0.125 EFTSL

Undergraduate - Unit

Refer to the specific census and withdrawal dates for the semester(s) in which this unit is offered.



Organisational Unit

School of Earth, Atmosphere and Environment

Chief examiner(s)

Dr Vanessa Wong


Dr Vanessa Wong

Unit guides



  • First semester 2018 (On-campus)


One of ATS2774, EAE2322, ESC2122 or by permission of the unit coordinator


ATS3788, ESC3788 and;

Permission by the unit coordinator is required for students in S6002 who are undertaking the Environmental Security (Science) specialisation.


The critical zone is the outer layer of the earth that sustains human life. Sustainable management of the critical zone is an important challenge facing society. This unit will engage students in the sustainable management of regolith and soil resources which support terrestrial ecosystems. Students will be presented with a number of soil and regolith problems and land management issues, and explore alternative land uses and sustainable land management techniques.


By the end of this unit, students are expected to:

  1. Exhibit a high level of skill in field description, identification and analysis of soils and regolith.
  2. Assess the current explanations for landscape management problems through critical evaluation of the literature and field and laboratory data.
  3. Discuss the processes that lead to soil and regolith formation.
  4. Discuss the key threats to the critical zone and identify management and remediation strategies.
  5. Describe soil, regolith and land management issues in the context of both longer term environmental change and current environmental change.


Examination (2 hours): 50% (Hurdle)

In-semester continuous assessment: 50%

Passing the final exam with a grade of greater than or equal to 50% is a hurdle requirement for this unit. Failing the final exam will result in the student attaining a final grade of 48% or their actual grade if that is lower.

Workload requirements

  • 2 hours of lectures and one 3-hour practical per week
  • One 2-day field trip on a weekend during semester

See also Unit timetable information

This unit applies to the following area(s) of study