EAE3051 - Palaeoclimatology: Discovering Earth's past climate - 2019

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 Ben Henley


Dr Ben Henley

Unit guides



  • First semester 2019 (On-campus)


One of ATS2776, ATS2779 or 6 points from EAE2 or ESC2 units


Palaeoclimatology is the study of changes to Earth's climate across the vast timescales of the entire history of our planet. This unit will examine the evolution of Earth's climate from the formation of our planet to the present. It will feature the history and context of humankind and how past changes relate to anthropogenic climate change. The unit will provide a foundation in key climate proxy records and the methods used to reconstruct the climate of the past. It will examine the physical processes causing past changes in climate. The unit will emphasise the cultivation of scientific creativity through flexible learning, active participation, workshops and practicals. The unit includes, where possible, a site visit to an ice-core laboratory, guest seminars from leading researchers in the field and the exploration of the latest data and technology in practicals and assessments.


On completion of this unit, students will be able to:

  1. Describe the history of the Earth's climate system from the formation of Earth (4 billion years ago) to the present.
  2. Illustrate physical, chemical and biological proxies of climate and know the techniques used to extract past climate information from these proxies.
  3. Interpret past climate changes from reconstructions developed from palaeoclimate proxies. Appreciate and quantify the uncertainties in these reconstructions.
  4. Discuss how climate has changed in the past and what have been the physical, chemical and biological processes causing these changes.
  5. Use simple climate models to explain past climate changes.
  6. Communicate clearly the key concepts of the unit across a range of styles and technologies using spoken, diagrammatic and written forms.


Examination(2 hours): 40%

Continuous assessment (practicals, assignments and quizzes): 60%

Workload requirements

The workload to achieve the learning outcomes for this unit is 144 hours spread across the semester (approximately 12 hours per week) - approximately an even mixture of attendance at scheduled activities and self-scheduled study time. Learning activities comprise a mixture of instructor-directed, peer-directed and self-directed learning, which includes face-to-face and online engagement.

See also Unit timetable information

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