The Earth System

This module explores the Earth as a system of interconnected geological systems. We focus on the Earth system components that shape the Earth’s surface and climate:

  1. the atmosphere
  2. the lithosphere
  3. the hydrosphere
  4. the biosphere
  5. the cryosphere.

This module will provide you with an overview of how each of these components functions – physically, chemically and/or biologically – and explore the ways in which they interact or ‘feedback’ on one another. Learning about these various Earth system components is supported by examining relevant events in the geological past.

By the end of the module you will be able to:

  • Understand the major physical, chemical, and biological processes shaping the surface of the Earth.
  • Understand that the Earth represents a system of interconnected components.
  • Identify and describe interactions and 'feedbacks’ between Earth system components.
  • Use evidence from the geological record to interpret past climates and Earth system/climate change or disturbance.


  • A series of multiple choice/short answer quizzes or problem sets 
  • Group presentation (poster/podcast/videocast)