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The subject focuses on the dynamic surface of our planet and the environments it sustains. The Earth’s surface is shaped by a complex interaction of physical and biological processes operating over a range of spatial and temporal scales. Understanding these processes in the present day, as well as reconstructing landscape and ecological change in the past, enables us to predict their future response to climate change and human activity. In this subject, students will study the processes and spatial patterns that shape natural landscapes and learn about approaches of reconstructing their evolution. Students will gain an appreciation of the ways that the dynamics of natural landscapes need to be incorporated into environmental management and the conservation of biodiversity.
This includes an in-depth understanding of the wide spectrum of landforms (including mountains and hillslopes, glaciers, rivers, dunes, and coasts) and the processes contributing to their formation and decay. In addition, the subject addresses the geographic patterns and dynamics of life on the Earth’s surface and investigates the way in which certain landscapes support particular types of ecosystems (such as rainforest, grassland, desert, estuarine and marine communities). Finally, the factors that may cause change in natural landscapes are explored to assess the roles played by climate, tectonics and humans over various timescales.
Through lectures, practicals and multiple days of field work, students will develop skills in a range of field and lab-based analytical techniques, as well as the use of GIS, for investigating our environment. This subject includes a four-day field trip in Victoria set to take place during the mid-semester break.
Intended learning outcomes
At the completion of this subject, students will have achieved the following objectives:
- Describe the development of key theories in geomorphology and their application to different landforms and settings
- Recognise how physical, biological, and human processes interact to shape natural landscapes and ecosystem diversity over a range of scales
- Identify natural processes of change in landscapes and ecosystems and how human activity may modify these processes
- Analyse geomorphic data to interpret change and recognise how this can be applied and integrated into future planning and policy
- Obtain a skill set of real world analytical techniques that are used to analyse and classify natural landscapes, measure the dynamics of processes and change, and reconstruct longer-term landscape evolution
- Recognise the development of key theories and apply these to a range of settings
- Recognise how a variety of processes interact over multiple spatial-temporal scales
- Obtain a skill set of real world analytical techniques
- Conduct independent library, lab, and field based research
- Apply knowledge in a planning and policy context
Last updated: 19 November 2019