LismoreSession 1Session 1
OnlineSession 1Session 1

Unit description

Introduces the major physical, chemical and biological processes that control the concentration and dispersion of chemical elements in natural and impacted environments. Knowledge of these processes, the factors that control them, and the interactions between sediment/soil/rock, water, biota and the atmosphere are essential for scientifically sound environmental management and for distinguishing between natural conditions and human impacts. Introduces many of our environmental problems that are chemically based, but whose solution involves knowledge of geochemistry, biology, and engineering. Demonstrates how knowledge of natural processes and products can be applied in engineering projects to minimise human impact and remediate previously impacted sites.

Unit content

  • Chemistry of natural waters physico-chemical properties including pH, hardness, dissolved gases, dissolved ions.
  • Catchments, estuaries, oceans, atmosphere.
  • Aquatic chemistry of nutrients.
  • Toxic heavy metals: sources, speciation, biomagnification, bioaccumulation, bioavailability.
  • The geochemistry of clays and colloids: adsorption, desorption, and ion exchange.
  • Chemical and geochemical analytical techniques for analysing waters, biological samples, and sediments.
  • Introduction to acid sulfate soils.
  • Toxic organic substances: pesticides, organochlorines, herbicides.
  • The greenhouse effect and global warming: mechanisms of the greenhouse effect, major greenhouse gases, other substances that affect global warming, global warming to date. Energy use, CO2 emissions and their environmental consequences. Solar energy, alternative fuels and their environmental consequences.
  • The CO2/carbonate system. Ocean-atmosphere chemistry.
  • Waste and contaminated soil management: the nature of hazardous wastes, soils and sediments.
  • Ecotoxicology - organism response to pollutants.

Learning outcomes

Unit Learning Outcomes express learning achievement in terms of what a student should know, understand and be able to do on completion of a unit. These outcomes are aligned with the graduate attributes. The unit learning outcomes and graduate attributes are also the basis of evaluating prior learning.

Learning outcomes and graduate attributes

Prescribed texts

Session 1

  • No prescribed texts.
Prescribed texts may change in future study periods.

Teaching and assessment


Teaching method
Lecture on-site 2 hours (11 weeks)
Laboratory session 3 hours (11 weeks)
Exam: open book40%


Teaching method
Lecture online 2 hours (11 weeks)
Laboratory session 8 hours (3 days)
Exam: open book40%

Intensive offerings may or may not be scheduled in every session. Please refer to the timetable for further details.

Southern Cross University employs different teaching methods within units to provide students with the flexibility to choose the mode of learning that best suits them. SCU academics strive to use the latest approaches and, as a result, the learning modes and materials may change. The most current information regarding a unit will be provided to enrolled students at the beginning of the study session.

Fee information


Commonwealth Supported courses
For information regarding Student Contribution Amounts please visit the Student Contribution Amounts.
Commencing 2020 Commonwealth Supported only. Student contribution band: 2

Fee paying courses
For POSTGRADUATE or UNDERGRADUATE full fee paying courses please check Domestic Postgraduate Fees OR Domestic Undergraduate Fees


Please check the international course and fee list to determine the relevant fees.