News and Events

International Baccalaureate students looking at Earth, Environment and Society

While the HSC students have received their results, those students completing the International Baccalaureate (IB) have to wait until early January to receive their final results. These students may be interested in looking at a first year, first semester unit of study called GEOS1001 Earth, Environment and Society which is attracting much interest from HSC students enrolling at the University of Sydney. GEOS1001 addresses the big questions relating to the origins and current state of the planet. The Head of School of Geosciences at the University of Sydney, Professor Phil McManus said, “GEOS1001 is a wonderful unit of study, and a pathway to many majors, including environmental studies, geography, marine science, geology, geophysics. There is a history of IB students doing very well in this unit of study.”

In 2018 GEOS1001 Earth, Environment and Society will be coordinated by Professor Bill Pritchard, with Dr. Sabin Zahirovic continuing his enthusiastic teaching. They will be joined by Dr. Bree Morgan, an environmental geochemist. GEOS1001 Earth, Environment and Society introduces students to the evolution of Earth as an evolving and dynamic planet. It enables students to learn about fragile air, water and soil systems with a global perspective, and to understand current processes and threats within the context of the earth’s history. Students learn about human-induced challenges to the Earth’s future. Students consider debates on population change, resource use, environmental rights and justice. GEOS1001 Earth, Environment and Society is the beginning of an intellectually stimulating and rewarding educational pathway for many IB students. The unit is interdisciplinary, and most IB students love this approach to learning.

“We are looking forward to seeing a number of successful IB students in GEOS1001 Earth, Environment and Society in 2018,” said Professor McManus. “It is a highly relevant unit of study, and one that the School of Geosciences is pleased with in terms of student interest and enrolments in 2018.”

Earth, Environment and Society of great interest to students

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Left to right: Professor Bill Pritchard, Dr Bree Morgan, Dr Sabin Zahirovic, Professor Phil McManus.

The first year, first semester unit GEOS1001 Earth, Environment and Society is attracting lots of interest from students enrolling at the University of Sydney. “I am very happy with the strong initial enrolment numbers,” said the Head of Geosciences, Professor Phil McManus. “It is a wonderful unit of study, and a pathway to many majors, including environmental studies, geography, marine science, geology, geophysics. I am not surprised that students are selecting this unit of study”

In 2018 GEOS1001 Earth, Environment and Society will be coordinated by Professor Bill Pritchard, with Dr. Sabin Zahirovic continuing his enthusiastic teaching. They will be joined by Dr. Bree Morgan, an environmental geochemist who joined the School of Geosciences in 2017. “This exciting combination of leading academics will no doubt get students thinking about the big questions relating to the origins and current state of the planet,” said Professor McManus. “GEOS1001 Earth, Environment and Society introduces students to knowledge, theories and debates about how the world’s physical and human systems operate. It is a very relevant unit of study.”

GEOS1001 Earth, Environment and Society introduces students to the evolution of Earth as an evolving and dynamic planet. It enables students to learn about fragile air, water and soil systems with a global perspective, and to understand current processes and threats within the context of the earth’s history. Students learn about human-induced challenges to the Earth’s future. Students consider debates on population change, resource use, environmental rights and justice. “Many students want to change the world,” said Professor McManus. “Changes are definitely needed. We encourage our students to learn about the world, about why it is as it is today, and to explore possibilities for the future.”

GEOS1001 Earth, Environment and Society is the beginning of an intellectually stimulating and rewarding educational pathway. It is the foundation for a degree from the University of Sydney and a career that is important for students and for the future of the planet.

5 cool topics you can study with a geography major

December 5 2017

While geography facts make for excellent trivia, what applications can the subject have in society or in a career sense?

Read more

Honours Students from the School of Geosciences Excel in 2017

November 28 2017

Congratulations to Honours students from the School of Geosciences on an outstanding year. In 2017, there are special congratulations to the three students from the School of Geosciences who were awarded a University Medal. The University Medal recognises outstanding performance throughout the undergraduate study, including but not limited to the Honours (4th) year research focused study.

Rebecca McGirr


Congratulations to Rebecca McGirr, whose thesis was titled “"Kinematic and geodynamic evolution of the Panama Isthmus region: implications for Central American Seaway closure" and was supervised primarily by Dr. Maria Seton. Rebecca completed a double major in Geology And Geophysics and in Soil Science. During her undergraduate coursework Rebecca received numerous undergraduate awards, and appeared on the Dean's List of Excellence in Academic Performance in both 2015 and 2016. She was awarded the University of Sydney Academic Merit Prize 2015. She received the Denison Geosciences School Summer Scholarship in 2016 and in 2017. She also received The University of Sydney Honours Scholarship 2017. Rebecca was also awarded the Edgeworth David Prize in Palaeontology 2015, the Deas-Thomson Scholarship in Mineralogy 2016 and the Sheila Mitchell Swain Memorial Prize 2016. And now, in 2017, she has been awarded a University Medal to recognise four years of outstanding academic achievements.

Jodie Pall


Congratulations to Jodie Pall, whose thesis was about Modelling reef response to environmental change with pyReef-Core. Jodie’s undergraduate studies included units of study in economics, commerce, mathematics, geography, geology and marine studies. She won major awards such as the Leo A Cotton Prize in Exploration Geophysics 2015 and the Ken Richards Memorial Scholarship in Geology or Geophysics 2016. Her outstanding honours thesis “Modelling Coral Reef Response to Environmental Change with BayesReef: A Combined Bayesian Inference and Numerical Modelling Approach", was supervised by Associate Professor Jody Webster and Dr. Tristan Salles and applied modelling techniques to Heron Island and One Tree Reefs. Her thesis has elevated the field of coral reef development modelling from an empirical science to a quantitative numerical modelling level, adding the ability to quantify uncertainties. In 2017 she was awarded a University Medal to recognise her amazing academic achievements.

Samantha Ross


Congratulations to Samantha Ross, whose thesis was titled “Modelling the formation of transient river knickpoints on growing anticlines and domes” and was supervised by Dr. Tristan Salles and Dr. Gilles Brocard. Samantha completed her undergraduate degree majoring in Geology And Geophysics and in Marine Science. She was awarded the Jack Mahoney Memorial Prize in Geology 2014, the Olga Marian Browne Prize for Fieldwork Report in Geology 2015, the Slade Prize for Intermediate Geology Practical 2015 and a Denison Geosciences School Summer Scholarship 2015. Her remarkable academic achievements continued into 2016 when she received the Deas-Thomson Scholarship in Mineralogy 2016, the Leo A Cotton Prize in Exploration Geophysics 2016 and the Quodling Testimonial Prize 2016. She also was named on the Dean's List of Excellence in Academic Performance 2016 and received The University of Sydney Honours Scholarship 2017. In recognition of four years of excellent academic performance, Samantha has been awarded a University Medal.


These outstanding results follow on from excellent presentations by our Honours students at geography and geology/geophysics (earth sciences) conferences in late 2017. Notable amongst these performances was Brittany Betteridge, a Geography Honours candidate supervised by Dr. Sophie Webber whose thesis was titled “Everyday resilience: Responding to livelihood threats in North Jakarta’s Kampung”. Geography Honours students from the University of Sydney participated in the 21st GSNSW Geography Honours/Masters Conference at the University of Newcastle on 9th November, along with students from Macquarie, Western Sydney, Wollongong and Newcastle university. Leah Emmanuel, Rupert Legg and Brittany Betteridge represented the School of Geosciences and delivered very high quality presentations, with Brittany being awarded the prestigious Jim Rose Award for the best overall paper at the conference.

Whilst the Honours results from the Faculty of Science have been officially released, unfortunately those students from the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences who are enrolled in Geography Honours will have to wait one more week for their results to be confirmed. We wish them well.

The School currently runs Honours programs in Geography, in Geology and in Geophysics, with a new program in Environmental Studies to be launched in the future as part of the 2018 curriculum changes at the University of Sydney. For students interested in studying Honours in Geography, Geology or Geophysics in 2018, please see here and/or contact our Education Support Officer, prior to the November 30 deadline.

Additional good news

November 14 2017

Congratulations to Dr Simon Williams on being a member of a successful ARC DP18 application!

Simon will be working with Dr Joanne Whittaker; Dr Andreas Klocker; Professor Carmen Gaina; Dr David Munday and Dr Sascha Brune on the following project:

How the complexity of continental breakup controls ocean circulation.

This project aims to address the evolution of oceanic seaways formed during separation of tectonic plates (such as Australia and Antarctica). The seaways that form are key components modulating the global ocean circulation system and are implicated in major glacial expansion events. This project aims to unravel their role relative to other drivers for example carbon dioxide (CO2). Unravelling the influence of seaway opening compared with declining CO2 in the onset of Antarctic and Northern hemisphere glaciation will enable more accurate future climate simulations. The project will also give international exposure and training to the next generation of numerically adept geoscientists and oceanographers.

Good news keeps coming...

November 14 2017

Congratulations to Sabin (PI), Dietmar (PI), Tristan, Adriana, Michael, Jody, and Simon, as well as colleagues from the Sydney Informatics Hub, and a team of international researchers who have been awarded a $130,000 grant by the Alfred P Sloan Foundation through the Deep Carbon Observatory. The project will run until September 2019, and will help link plate tectonics over geological time with the deep carbon cycle. The team covers several disciplines including evolutionary biology, microbiology, data science, geochemistry, volcanology, and geodynamics.

The funds will cover the expenses of a related workshop that will be held at Cambridge (where the DCO’s synthesis chair is based), and will hire two talented students from our School as casual Research Assistants to help link our open source software and open access data to themes ranging from studying carbonate platform development and interaction with volcanic arcs, the role of Large Igneous Provinces in perturbing the deep carbon cycle, the impact of tectonics in cycling carbon between shallow and deep reservoirs, and the role of ophiolite obduction in modulating atmospheric CO2. Many of these components are also complementary to the Basin GENESIS Hub, especially in terms of the “Reservoirs and Fluxes”, “Deep Energy”, and “Modeling and Visualisation” arms of the Deep Carbon Observatory (DCO).

The project title is The Deep Carbon Cycle (DCC) through geological time: An interdisciplinary synthesis of the carbon cycle in the Earth’s lithosphere-biosphere system

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Congratulations to Eleanor Bruce and Dale Dominey-Howes

November 14 2017

Dr. Eleanor Bruce and her team (which includes Associate Professor Dale Dominey-Howes) have been successful with their application for a Sydney Southeast Asia Centre Workshop Grant.

They have been awarded $15,000 for the workshop entitled “Climate adaptation in disaster-prone environments of Southeast Asia” to be held in Phnom Penh.

Well done Eleanor and Dale!

Congratulations to Emeritus Professor Philip Hirsch

November 14 2017

Congratulations to Emeritus Professor Philip Hirsch on being a member of a successful ARC DP18 application!

Philip will be working with Associate Professor Sango Mahanty; Dr Sarah Milne; and Dr Keith Barney on the following project:

Rupture: nature-society transformations in mainland Southeast Asia.

This project aims to understand the nexus between intense, cumulative processes of socio-ecological change and emerging forms of social agency. Three case studies of Cambodian and Vietnamese dams, and a review of Thai-Lao cases, will reveal local and civil society responses to nature-society rupture and how these responses affect the region, inform advances in environmental change management, and be relevant to Australia's security policies.

Congratulations to Dan Penny

November 14 2017

Congratulations to Dan Penny on his successful ARC DP18 application!

Dan is leading a team in Resolving the Maya climate-collapse hypothesis.

This project aims to test the climate-collapse theory by developing detailed records of climate and social change from Maya cities that did not collapse, and in doing so identify why some cities were more resilient to the impact of climatic variability than others. Catastrophic climate variability is often invoked to explain the historic collapse of large low-density urban centres in the global tropics. The collapse of the Maya civilisation of Central America after the 8th century AD is the archetypal social collapse yet, despite robust evidence for drought across Central America, archaeological evidence suggests a heterogenous social response. This project will reveal what social, material, or environmental properties facilitated resiliency in historic urban centres confronting climatic variability.

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Geography Honours Masters Conference

November 9 2017

Geography Honours students from the University of Sydney participated in the 21st GSNSW Geography Honours/Masters Conference at the University of Newcastle on Thursday 9th November, along with students from Macquarie, Western Sydney, Wollongong and Newcastle university.

Leah Emmanuel, Rupert Legg and Brittany Betteridge represented the School of Geosciences and delivered very high quality presentations that showed the quality of research training offered in our school.

Brittany Betteridge received the Jim Rose Award for the best overall paper at the conference. Congratulations on this outstanding achievement.

For students interested in undertaking Honours in the School of Geosciences, see Read more below.

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What are the job opportunities for graduates?

September 1 2017

Geologists, Geophysicists and Hydrogeologists study the composition, structure and other physical attributes of the earth, locate and advise on the extraction of minerals, petroleum and ground water, and detect, monitor and forecast seismic, magnetic, electrical, thermal and oceanographic activity.
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GSNSW 90th Anniversary and Celebration of Geography event

August 26 2017

Photos from the GSNSW 90th Anniversary and Celebration of Geography event held in MacLaurin Hall at the University of Sydney on Saturday 12th August, 2017. The University of Sydney was represented through academic staff, honorary associates, former staff, former students now working at other universities, and through some of the prize winners of the photography competition.
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Study and Careers in Environmental Studies

August 25 2017

Presented by Dr Jeff Neilson Check out the video link.

What we do in the School of Geosciences, The University of Sydney

August 25 2017

Check out the video presented by Prof Dietmar Müller.

Head of Geosciences looks forward to 2018

August 25 2017

The Head of the School of Geosciences, Professor Phil McManus, is excited about the educational improvements to commence in 2018. “The new curriculum is a big opportunity for academic disciplines such as geography, geology, geophysics, environmental studies, marine science and our teaching in sustainability,” said Professor McManus. “We welcome more students to learn about these important subjects in new and creative ways”. Read more

Revealed: Sydney's smashed avocado index

August 13 2017

Sydney's eastern suburbs hold a unique place in the city's smashed avocado economy.

In the upmarket inner-east neighbourhood of Edgecliff 100 per cent of cafes have avocado toast on the menu. That suburb also has the city's highest average price for the hipster favourite at $18 a pop, new research has found. Bondi Junction isn't far behind – 80 per cent of cafe menus there feature smashed avocado at an average price of $16 (equal second highest in the city). Students who did the research were studying in GEOS2123 The Geography of Cities and Regions, and this was their major project.
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2018 International Field Programs in Geography Announced

August 1 2017

In 2018, the Geography program of the School of Geosciences will include four different Asia-based field programs that are available to students. Field programs include opportunities to travel to Indonesia, India or Thailand. All programs earn students credit points, and in some cases can count towards a Geography major. Participation in these programs requires Special Permission, and all relevant details can be found here.

Crinkling News features Baltic Sea origins of EarthByte

June 8 2017

Crinkling News, Australia's only newspaper for kids, features four recently elected Australian Academy of Science Fellows, including EarthByter Dietmar Muller and Branca Vucetic from the School of Electrical and Information Engineering, also at the University of Sydney. The story depicts Dietmar's early fossil hunting days on Baltic Sea beaches, where a wild collection of rocks and sediments, scraped off Scandinavia, had been deposited by melting glaciers after the end of the last ice age.

Crinkling News is posted out weekly to 800 Australian schools and has 30,000 young readers. Until a few weeks ago, the newspaper faced closure after only a year in operation, but a crowd funding campaign saw it raise $200,000, which has secured its short-term future. Hopefully we are helping to inspire the next generation!
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Our world university rankings

March 18 2017

QS Rankings are in and we are proud to say that Geography at the University of Sydney was ranked 17th in the world in the QS Ranking by Subject for 2017 (up from 22 in 2016).

Find out more about Geography at USYD.

Read more about QS rankings

A new approach to climate management

March 17 2017

It is increasing likely we will have to develop negative emissions if we are to meet the COP21 target of less than 2 degrees rise in the temperature. Negative emissions are where you draw carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store in geological structures or in the ocean. A new paper by Dr Daniel Harrison of the University of Sydney has evaluated the capacity of the ocean to store carbon dioxide away from the atmosphere for a millennium.
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GEOS2115 now being offered as a Study Abroad course

March 16 2017

GEOS2115 Oceans, Coasts and Climate Change is now being offered as part of the University of Sydney's Study Abroad program due to popular demand. Discover concepts about how the formation of ocean basins and their influence on climate govern the development of coasts and continental margins.
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Chinese New Year with Dr Dong Xing

January 30 2017

We catch up with Geosciences graduate Dr Dong Xing to find out what he's working on with the City of Sydney for Chinese New Year. Read more