Oceans, Coasts and Climate Change (GEOS2115)


This unit of study introduces core concepts about how the formation of ocean basins and their influence on climate govern the development of coasts and continental margins. These concepts provide a framework for understanding the geographic variation of coasts, continental shelves and sediment accumulations in the deep ocean. Ocean-basin evolution is explained in terms of movements within the Earth's interior and how these movements determine the geometry of ocean basins, and their alpine counterparts, which interact with the global circulation of the ocean and atmosphere. This interaction plays a key role in marine sedimentation and controls the environmental conditions responsible for the development of coral reefs and other ecosystems. The Unit of Study systematically outlines how these factors have played out to produce, by gradual change, the coasts we see today, as well as the less familiar deposits hidden beneath the sea and coastal lands. The Unit thereby outlines how knowledge of responses to climate change in the past allow us to predict environmental responses to accelerated climate change occurring now and in the future due to the industrial greenhouse effect, but places these responses into perspective against the geological record. Overall therefore, the Unit aims to provide familiarity with fundamental phenomena central to the study of marine geoscience and environmental impacts, introduced through process-oriented explanations. The Unit of Study is structured around GIS-based practical sessions and problem-based project work, for which lectures provide the theoretical background.

Our courses that offer this unit of study

Further unit of study information


Twenty-five 1 hour lectures, three 1 hour workshops, eight 2 hour practical classes.


Lab reports (60%), one 2-hour exam (40%)


On line reading material provided via Fisher Library

Faculty/department permission required?


Unit of study rules


24 credit points from Junior Units of Study

Assumed knowledge

GEOG1001 or GEOL1001 or GEOL1002 or GEOS1003 or GEOS1903 or ENVI1002 or GEOL1902 or GEOL1501


GEOS2915 or MARS2006

Study this unit outside a degree

Non-award/non-degree study

If you wish to undertake one or more units of study (subjects) for your own interest but not towards a degree, you may enrol in single units as a non-award student.

Cross-institutional study

If you are from another Australian tertiary institution you may be permitted to underake cross-institutional study in one or more units of study at the University of Sydney.