Beaches and Coasts

Today, the beach is a dominant feature of Australian identity and the majority of Australia’s population now lives on or near the coastline. The rapid pace of development across coastal zones means that the need to understand and value coastal environments is now critically important. This unit studies how beaches and coasts have formed, how coastal landforms change through time and how human activities shape these iconic landscapes.

Course

GEOG202: Beaches and Coasts

Course dates

10 -21 July 2017

Lecturer(s)

Dr Duncan Cook and Dr Michelle Haron

Form(s) of teaching Face to face teaching and field work

Form(s) of assessment

Group presentation and assessments

ACU credit points

10

ECTS Credits

7.5

US Credits

3 or 4

Contact hours

34 hours (Class teaching and field work)

This unit will be of particular interest to students interested in exploring the Australian coastal landscape from an academic perspective, and for students looking to expand their knowledge of geographic and environmental processes and issues in the context of Australia’s remarkable coastline.  This includes students interested in developing skills in field work, the analysis and evaluation of geographic information, and the identification and assessment of coastal management approaches.

Today, the beach is a dominant feature of Australian identity and the majority of Australia’s population now lives on or near the coastline. The rapid pace of development across coastal zones means that the need to understand and value coastal environments is now critically important.

This unit studies how beaches and coasts have formed, how coastal landforms change through time, and how human activities shape these iconic landscapes.  This unit develops key geographical skills (including field survey and mapping, and the collection, analysis and interpretation of coastal data) for investigating coastal phenomena. Students’ knowledge and skills in coastal geomorphology will be developed within the context of the need for sustainable management and use of the coastal zone.

Topics may include:
  • Components of the Coastal environment
  • Sea-level rise and the Quaternary evolution of coasts
  • Tides and tidal landforms
  • Coasts and climate
  • Beaches and dunes
  • Waves and coastal hydrodynamics
  • Sediment transport along coasts and on beaches
  • The landforms and processes of rocky coasts
  • Coastal resource management and sustainability
  • Land use and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander heritage and perspectives of the coast

This unit draws on the outstanding ‘natural laboratory’ of the beaches and coasts around Sydney, with much of the unit taking place outdoors, site visits will include:

  • Exploring the landforms and processes that have formed and continue to shape the rocky coast and beach environment of the Illawarra area (near Wollongong).
  • Investigating the estuarine and beach processes of Narrabeen Lagoon with specific reference to coastal management issues and sustainable development approaches.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

  • Understand and describe the different processes and landforms of the coastal environment
  • Undertake surveys and assessments of beaches and other coastal landforms;
  • Identify and describe examples of recent human impacts on the coast;
  • Access, review and synthesise literature on coastal geomorphology and related topics;
  • Conduct independent and team research that includes field and/or laboratory data collection and present research in written and oral forms.
  • Christopherson, R.W. 2014. Geosystems – an Introduction to Physical Geography. Prentice-Hall, NYC.
  • Harvey, N. and Caton, B. 2010. Coastal Management in Australia. University of Adelaide Press, Adelaide
  • James L.A., Harden C. and Clague J.J. (eds.) 2013. Treatise on Geomorphology: Coastal Geomorphology. Academic Press, London
  • Masselink, G, Hughes, M., Knight, J. 2011. Introduction to Coastal Processes and Geomorphology (2nd edition). Hodder, London
  • Murray-Wallace, C. and Woodroffe, C.D. 2014, Quaternary Sea-Level Changes: A Global Perspective. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge
  • Short, A., and Woodroffe, C.D. 2009. The Coast of Australia. Cambridge, Melbourne., Schwartz, M.L. 2005. Encyclopaedia of Coastal Science. Springer, Netherlands.
  • Woodroffe C. D. 2003. Coasts: Form, Process and Evolution. Cambridge, Melbourne.

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