Earth and Environmental Science is a multifaceted field of inquiry that focuses on interactions between the solid Earth, its water, its air and its living organisms, and on dynamic, interdependent relationships that have developed between these four components. Earth and environmental scientists consider how these interrelationships produce environmental change at a variety of timescales. To do this, they integrate knowledge, concepts, models and methods drawn from geology, biology, physics and chemistry in the study of Earth’s ancient and modern environments. Earth and environmental scientists strive to understand past and present processes so that reliable and scientifically-defensible predictions can be made about the future.

Earth and Environmental Science builds on the content in the Biological and Earth and Space Sciences sub-strands of the Foundation to Year 10 Australian Curriculum: Science. In particular, the subject provides students with opportunities to explore the theories and evidence that frame our understanding of Earth’s origins and history; the dynamic and interdependent nature of Earth’s processes, environments and resources; and the ways in which these processes, environments and resources respond to change across a range of temporal and spatial scales.

In this subject, the term ‘environment’ encompasses terrestrial, marine and atmospheric settings and includes Earth’s interior. Environments are described and characterised with a focus on systems thinking and multidisciplinarity rather than with a particular ecological, biological, physical or chemical focus. This subject emphasises the way Earth materials and processes generate environments including habitats where organisms live; the natural processes and human influences which induce changes in physical environments; and the ways in which organisms respond to those changes.

Studying senior secondary Science provides students with a suite of skills and understandings that are valuable to a wide range of further study pathways and careers. In this subject, students develop their investigative, analytical and communication skills and apply these to their understanding of science issues in order to engage in public debate, solve problems and make evidence-based decisions about contemporary issues. The knowledge, understanding and skills introduced in this subject will encourage students to become confident, active citizens who can competently use diverse methods of inquiry, and will provide a foundation for further studies or employment in Earth and environmental science-related fields.


Earth and Environmental Science aims to develop students’:

  • interest in Earth and environmental science and their appreciation of how this multidisciplinary knowledge can be used to understand contemporary issues
  • understanding of Earth as a dynamic planet consisting of four interacting systems: the geosphere, atmosphere, hydrosphere and lithosphere
  • appreciation of the complex interactions, involving multiple parallel processes, that continually change Earth systems over a range of timescales
  • understanding that Earth and environmental science knowledge has developed over time; is used in a variety of contexts; and influences, and is influenced by, social, economic, cultural and ethical considerations
  • ability to conduct a variety of field, research and laboratory investigations involving collection and analysis of qualitative and quantitative data, and interpretation of evidence
  • ability to critically evaluate Earth and environmental science concepts, interpretations, claims and conclusions with reference to evidence
  • ability to communicate Earth and environmental understanding, findings, arguments and conclusions using appropriate representations, modes and genres.