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WAT1101 Introduction to Water Science

Semester 1, 2022 Toowoomba On-campus
Units : 1
Faculty or Section : Faculty of Health, Engineering and Sciences
School or Department : School of Agriculture and Environmental Science
Student contribution band : Band 2
Grading basis : Graded
Version produced : 17 May 2022


Examiner: Afshin Ghahramani


Water comprises over 75% of the Earth’s surface and is essential to all life on earth. Many biophysical and human use processes are dependent on water and the water cycle. Fundamental knowledge of how physical and chemical components of water systems function and interact is essential for aquatic resource management and sustainability more broadly. This course introduces students to the water cycle and the diversity of aquatic systems, their properties and functions, both globally and in Australia. The course is of value to students seeking careers as water scientists, environmental scientists, engineers, field biologists, agricultural scientists, natural resource managers and professional ecologists.

The course aims to provide an understanding of the physical and chemical characteristics of aquatic systems and the processes shaping them. The role of water and its interactions with other processes in shaping landscapes is examined. The course will explore the characteristics of water processes and examine the differences between lotic (fluvial) and lentic (freshwater) systems. The course will also provide an introduction to fundamentals of hydrology, including surface water hydrology, groundwater hydrology and ecohydrology. The role of water in shaping Australia's socio-ecological landscape will be discussed.

This course contains a Highly Recommended residential school at the Toowoomba campus for both external and on-campus students in the form of a two-day excursion to sites within the Toowoomba/Darling Downs region.

Course learning outcomes

On completion of this course students should be able to:

  1. describe the water cycle and analyse the fundamental processes at hillslope and catchment scales;
  2. review the diversity of aquatic systems and their distinguishing characteristics;
  3. describe the hydrological processes which control the occurrence, movement and distribution of water in the environment;
  4. analyse water quality and hydrological data from field and online sources and report results in a scientifically rigorous manner;
  5. communicate effectively on scientific literature relevant to aquatic systems.


Description Weighting(%)
1. The water cycle & physical properties of water. Basic hydrological processes: hillslope, catchment, rivers and streams, lakes, reservoirs, wetlands, and estuaries. 15.00
2. Precipitation, evaporation, transpiration, water storage 20.00
3. Runoff processes and Stream flow analysis 20.00
4. Introduction to ecohydrology 10.00
5. Introduction to groundwater 10.00
6. Water quantity & quality monitoring: field skills in hydrological measurement 10.00
7. Data analysis skills using practical examples to estimate the magnitude and frequency of hydrologic events 15.00

Text and materials required to be purchased or accessed

Dingman, S.L 2015, Physical Hydrology, Waveland press.

Student workload expectations

To do well in this subject, students are expected to commit approximately 10 hours per week including class contact hours, independent study, and all assessment tasks. If you are undertaking additional activities, which may include placements and residential schools, the weekly workload hours may vary.

Assessment details

Approach Type Description Group
Weighting (%) Course learning outcomes
Assignments Written Quiz No 20 1,2
Assignments Written Essay No 20 1,2,3
Assignments Written Report No 30 3,4,5
Examinations Non-invigilated Time limited online examinatn No 30 1,2,3,4,5
Date printed 17 May 2022