Courses & Units

Humans: Earth Shapers XBR112


Earth is a lively and dynamic planet that is undergoing rapid changes wrought by the activities of humans. In what ways are these changes impacting on us and other species? Are we precipitating another mass extinction; the 6th major mass extinction since life exploded on Earth some 500 million years ago? How will the way humans formulate and apply international and national policies continue to drive change? What are our own values regarding change and how does that colour our perceptions of Earth Shaping?

This unit will explore some dilemmas of Earth Shaping through the prisms of science, philosophy and governance. Online content investigates the scientific theories of modern Earth and life systems, along with practicals and quizzes, delves into the rock record to understand some mechanisms of past extinctions. A short essay provides the opportunity to express your own values and recognise those of others. Discussions with tutors and peers will engender debate on how values and human governance impacts go beyond local solutions to help us shape a planet we want to call home.

The final design project will mesh Earth systems, human impacts and questions of governance. It will provide a launching point for discussions between peers. Time is allocated for modification of individual projects and reflection on final submissions.

More than ever before humans are a force of nature that can reprogram the planet. Understanding our abilities means that we are probably the first ever species to consider limiting our activities. Overviews in science, philosophy and policies will equip participants to better understand our unique position and impacts as human Earth shapers.


Unit name Humans: Earth Shapers
Unit code XBR112
Credit points 12.5
College/School College of Sciences and Engineering
School of Natural Sciences
Discipline Biological Sciences|Earth Sciences|Philosophy and Gender Studies|Politics and International Relations|Oceans and Cryosphere
Coordinator Professor Sebastien Meffre
Teaching staff Doctor Graham Wood|Professor Greg Jordan|Associate Professor Joanna Vince|Professor Zanna Chase
Available as an elective? Yes
Delivered By University of Tasmania
Level Introductory


Location Study period Attendance options Available to
Hobart Semester 2 Off-Campus International Domestic


International students
Domestic students

Key Dates

Study Period Start date Census date WW date End date
Semester 2 11/7/2022 9/8/2022 29/8/2022 16/10/2022

* The Final WW Date is the final date from which you can withdraw from the unit without academic penalty, however you will still incur a financial liability (refer to How do I withdraw from a unit? for more information).

Unit census dates currently displaying for 2022 are indicative and subject to change. Finalised census dates for 2022 will be available from the 1st October 2021. Note census date cutoff is 11.59pm AEST (AEDT during October to March).

About Census Dates

Learning Outcomes

  • Outline the current scientific theories of how Earth’s natural systems change through time
  • Describe the impacts of humans on Earth’s natural systems
  • Identify the values held by you and others in relation to human impacts on natural systems
  • Explain the role of governance on shaping human impacts on Earth’s natural systems

Fee Information

Field of Education Commencing Student Contribution 1,3 Grandfathered Student Contribution 1,3 Approved Pathway Course Student Contribution 2,3 Domestic Full Fee 4
010799 $1,002.00 $1,002.00 not applicable $2,354.00

1 Please refer to more information on student contribution amounts.
2 Please refer to more information on eligibility and Approved Pathway courses.
3 Please refer to more information on eligibility for HECS-HELP.
4 Please refer to more information on eligibility for FEE-HELP.

If you have any questions in relation to the fees, please contact UConnect or more information is available on StudyAssist.

Please note: international students should refer to What is an indicative Fee? to get an indicative course cost.


Teaching Pattern

This unit has weekly web pages with pre-recorded lectures and self-dirrected activities, weekly discussion boards and specific tutorials focus on each of the 5 assessment items.

AssessmentAssessment Task 1a (10%)|Assessment Task 1b (10%)|Assessment Task 3 (15%)|Assessment Task 2 Values Essay (20%)|Assessment Task 4 (20%)|Assessment Task 5 (25%)
TimetableView the lecture timetable | View the full unit timetable





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