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GES3555 - Environmental change: past to future

6 points, SCA Band 2, 0.125 EFTSL

Undergraduate Faculty of Arts

Leader(s): Professor Peter Kershaw


Clayton First semester 2009 (Day)


This unit introduces a range of methods used to reconstruct past environments at different temporal scales over the past several hundred to thousands of years. These reconstructions provide baseline data to understand and infer the human contribution to several key environmental concerns, including climate change, biomass burning, biodiversity and vegetation dynamics, water availability and quality, and the management and restoration of natural, Indigenous and historical landscapes. Emphasis is placed on hands-on, technical experience to provide fundamental understanding of environmental issues of current relevance to Australia.


Upon completion of this subject, you should be able to demonstrate

  1. familiarity with a range of palaeo-environmetal techniques employed to understand environmental change and current environmental issues, together with an ability to assess their relative merits and limitations;
  2. practical expertise in palaeoecological methods and their application to palaeo-environmental reconstruction, geo-archaeology, and environmental change;
  3. an awareness of patterns and uncertainties in environmental change that both facilitate and constrain future environmental prediction and land and water management options;
  4. familiarity with the dynamics of Australian physical and human landscapes;
  5. an ability to produce a scientific report based on a range of generated data and their analysis;
  6. an ability to make informed and rational appraisals of key environmental problems, especially in Australia.


Essay (3000 words): 50%
Field and laboratory report (1500 words): 30% +
Class participation/reading log: 20%

Contact hours

One 2-hour lecture per week; One 3 hour practical per fortnight; one 2-3 day field excursion


Minor sequence in Geography or Indigenous Archaeology or Botany or Zoology or Earth Science, or permission of Head of School

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