Courses - Faculty of Science

Earth Sciences

Stage I

15 Points

Foundation for Earth Sciences

Exploring and understanding the complexities of Earth systems requires earth scientists to engage with a range of quantitative techniques and tools. Introduces students to contemporary approaches for analysing and interpreting earth science data. Covers mathematical, physical, computational, and chemical methods used in the earth sciences. Emphasises practical application to a variety of earth science topics.

Restriction: EARTHSCI 263

15 Points

15 Points

Natural Hazards in New Zealand

New Zealanders are exposed to extreme natural events and processes including earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, weather bombs, storm surge, tsunami, flooding, landslides and erosion. The physical context for each hazard is provided, drawing on the disciplines of geology, geomorphology and climatology. The frequency and magnitude of natural hazards for New Zealand are considered using different sources. Impacts on modern society are discussed using case studies and scenario modelling.

Restriction: GEOG 105, 105G, GEOLOGY 110

15 Points

Planet Earth

Examination of geologic processes that have shaped Earth and life through time, and their impact on modern society. Topics include: earthquakes, plate tectonics, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis, landslides, meteorites and planets, mass extinctions and evolution of life. A practical introduction to rocks, minerals and fossils provides insights into Earth's past and important modern resources.

Restriction: EARTHSCI 103

Stage II

15 Points

Field Skills and Methods in Earth Sciences

Field survey techniques for earth sciences, including spatial–temporal geological and geomorphological evolution reconstruction. Includes: field surveying, terrain/geological mapping and systematic observation and recording, links between earth surface processes and geological formations, geological structures, stratigraphy, sedimentology and palaeontology. Practical classes utilise data from residential field course/ independent mapping projects.

Prerequisite: 15 points from EARTHSCI 103, 120, GEOLOGY 103, 104

Restriction: GEOLOGY 201

15 Points

Earth History

Explores the evolution of the Earth from its molten beginnings to the dynamic planet we live on today. Topics include: stratigraphy (litho-, bio-, cyclo-, magneto-); evolution; paleoecology; Precambrian Earth (formation, first continents and beginnings of life); development of the Earth and life through the Phanerozoic Eon. Knowledge of geological mapping equivalent to EARTHSCI 201 or 220 will be assumed.

Prerequisite: 75 points, including at least 15 points from EARTHSCI 103, 120, GEOLOGY 103, 104

Restriction: GEOLOGY 202

15 Points

Rock and Minerals

The formation of rocks and minerals, and how they can be used to identify and interpret major Earth Science processes such as crustal evolution, volcanism, mountain building, and deformation. The relationship between rock formation and global-scale tectonic settings is explored.

Prerequisite: 15 points from EARTHSCI 103, 120, GEOLOGY 103

Restriction: GEOLOGY 203

15 Points

Earth Structure

A foundation course in structural geology introduces students to descriptive and analytical methods for working with deformed rock. On completion of this course a student will be able to describe brittle and ductile structures, undertake simple analyses of stress and strain, and appreciate the role that structural geology plays in the applied and fundamental geological sciences, including engineering geology, geophysics, mineral and energy exploration, hydrogeology, and tectonophysics. Students enrolling in this course are encouraged to complement it with courses in any of mathematics, physics and/or geomechanics.

Prerequisite: 15 points from EARTHSCI 103, 120, GEOLOGY 103, 104

Restriction: GEOLOGY 204

15 Points

15 Points

New Zealand: Half a Billion Years on the Edge

Take a 500 million year journey through time following the geologic and biologic development of New Zealand from humble beginnings on the edge of the ancient supercontinent Gondwana to the present day geologically dynamic land mass beset by volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and massive erosion as a consequence of being located on the edge of the Earth's largest tectonic plate.

Prerequisite: 75 points passed

Restriction: GEOLOGY 205, 205G

15 Points


Astrobiology examines the potential of the universe to harbour life and is interdisciplinary, combining Geology, Biology, Astronomy, Chemistry, Physics, Philosophy, Ethics. Course focus is on how these disciplines combine with technology, addressing questions of life in the universe. Key topics include origin and evolution of life, definitions and environmental limits of life, and how to search for life beyond Earth.

Prerequisite: 75 points passed

15 Points

Earth Structure

A foundation course that introduces students to descriptive and analytical methods in structural geology. Geological maps are used to help students analyse structural features (eg, folds, faults, contacts). On completion of this course, students should be able to interpret geological maps, construct cross-sections, and synthesise analytical results into a structural history.

Prerequisite: 15 points at Stage I in Earth Sciences

Restriction: EARTHSCI 204

15 Points

Introduction to GIS and Spatial Thinking

An introduction to the conceptual base of Geographic Information Science, the practical use of geo-spatial data and various issues related to the use of Remote Sensing and Geographic Information Systems. The course exercises cover a range of applications of GIS for analysis and display of spatial data, focusing on non-programmable solutions.

Restriction: GEOG 210, 318

15 Points

Practice in Earth Sciences 1

A practical and field based course that introduces and develops theory and work flows to enable students to read, document and interpret landforms and landscapes in 4-D. Students will be required to participate in a residential field experience and undertake independent field work.

Prerequisite: 15 points from EARTHSCI 120, GEOG 101

Restriction: EARTHSCI 201, 260

15 Points

Field Studies in Earth Surface Processes

Introduction to laboratory, field methods and analytical techniques to interpret the dynamics of Earth surface processes. Specific topics include: geomorphic mapping; landform observation and topographic survey; soil and sedimentary analyses and sampling; stratigraphic analysis; measurement of climatic, hydrological and coastal processes; and techniques for ecological measurement and monitoring.

Prerequisite: GEOG 101

Restriction: GEOG 260

15 Points

Climate, Hydrology and Biogeography

Exploration of themes in climatology, hydrology, and biogeography with a focus on the nature and role of key processes at various spatial and temporal scales in the biosphere. The role of climate as a fundamental driver of hydrological and biogeographical processes is an important theme.

Prerequisite: GEOG 101

Restriction: GEOG 261

15 Points


Introduces fundamental concepts in geomorphology for geologists and physical geographers. Key aspects of geomorphology, sedimentology, and earth surface processes are introduced by studying the temporal and spatial development of coastal and river landforms. Applied techniques for earth and environmental sciences, including field, remote sensing, GIS mapping, and modelling.

Prerequisite: GEOG 101

Restriction: GEOG 262

15 Points

Tools and Techniques for the Earth Sciences

Exploring and understanding the complexities of Earth systems requires Earth Scientists to engage with a range of quantitative techniques and tools. Students will be introduced to contemporary approaches for analysing and interpreting Earth Science data, including mathematical, physical, computational and chemical methods. The course emphasises the practical application of these to a variety of Earth Science topics.

Stage III

15 Points

Advanced Field Geological Skills and Methods

Advanced field course that allows students to attain a high level of geological field skills through a series of integrative field problems. Focuses on advanced field skills, work flows and interpretations needed to decipher complex geological terrains. Examines a range of sedimentary and igneous units in the North Island. Critically examines outcrops and develops complex 4D models of tectonostratigraphic and volcanological evolution in a variety of settings. Field exercises culminate in individual mapping exercises and synthesis of the geological histories of areas.

Prerequisite: EARTHSCI 201 or GEOLOGY 201, and 30 points from EARTHSCI 202-204, GEOLOGY 202-204

Restriction: GEOLOGY 301

15 Points

Sedimentary Systems

An advanced course that critically examines sedimentary systems from the mineral to basin scale. Highlights the latest research and techniques used to interpret carbonate and clastic sedimentary systems, including petrological techniques, paleoenvironment facies analysis, sequence stratigraphy, basin analysis and geophysics. Real-life case studies will also show how hydrocarbon systems work in a sedimentary system context.

Prerequisite: Any 30 points at Stage II in Earth Sciences or Biological Sciences, plus an understanding equivalent to EARTHSCI 202 will be assumed

Restriction: GEOLOGY 303

15 Points

Petrology and Geochemistry of Igneous Systems

An introduction to geochemistry and its broad applications including Solar System formation, Earth evolution, geochronology, mountain-building, paleoclimatology, paleoceanography, archeology, tracing the life histories of animals, forensic science and medical geology. Includes how the generation, modification and eruption of magmas can be constrained from mineralogical, chemical and isotopic studies.

Prerequisite: 15 points from EARTHSCI 203, 220 GEOLOGY 203, and 30 points from EARTHSCI 201-263, GEOG 260-263, GEOLOGY 201-205

Restriction: GEOLOGY 304

15 Points

Tectonics and Geodynamics

Causes and effects of motions of the Earth's lithosphere drawn from across geosciences. Exposure to seminal literature covering various geological, geophysical and modelling tools and methods used for deciphering deformation at divergent and convergent plate margins. Provides a strong foundation in tectonophysics and experience in critical evaluation of the scientific literature.

Prerequisite: EARTHSCI 204 or GEOLOGY 204

Restriction: GEOLOGY 305

15 Points

Applied Earth Sciences

An advanced undergraduate capstone course in Earth Sciences that builds on the principles and concepts taught in Earth Sciences, Environmental Sciences, Geology, Geophysics and Physical Geography and offers a series of flexible 3-week modules that students can take in applied and vocationally relevant topics in the Earth Sciences. Students will be required to take a minimum of three modules and also undertake a further module of independently driven learning to successfully pass the course.

Prerequisite: 45 points from EARTHSCI 201-263, GEOG 260-263, GEOLOGY 201-205

Restriction: GEOLOGY 306

15 Points

Dynamic Quaternary Environments

An advanced understanding of the evolution and variability of climate and environment during the Quaternary Period (last 2.6 million years). The focus of the course is on the identification of these and the use of biological, physical and geochemical proxy methods. The topic is multi-disciplinary and will examine aspects of paleoceanography, sea-level change, paleoglaciology, paleohydrology, paleoecology, paleolimnology, dendroclimatology and speleothems.

Prerequisite: 45 points at Stage II, including 15 points from EARTHSCI 201, 202, 220, GEOG 260-263, GEOLOGY 201, 202, or equivalent

15 Points

Field and Laboratory Geology Skills

A residential geological field-trip, involving advanced mapping, stratigraphic, paleontological, and structural work, along with geophysical data acquisition and sample collection. Laboratory work involves activities on samples and data collected in the field, including stratigraphic, sedimentological, paleontological, and structural analysis, geochronological and geochemical analysis, and geophysical data processing. The course culminates in preparation of a report that integrates field and laboratory data and quantitatively describes the geological history of the field area.

Prerequisite: EARTHSCI 220, 30 points from EARTHSCI 203, 204, 208, 262 and a GPA of at least 6.0

15 Points

Practice in Earth Sciences 2

A practical and field based course that embeds theory and work flows to enable students to read, document and interpret complex and vulnerable landforms and landscapes in 4-D. Students will be required to participate in a residential field experience and undertake independent field work.

Prerequisite: EARTHSCI 220

Restriction: EARTHSCI 301, GEOG 330

15 Points

Research Methods in Physical Geography

Research design and associated research methods from the component fields of physical geography. A residential field trip forms a focus for the course. On this trip, students will work under supervision in small groups and apply selected research methods and techniques to a research project. Fieldwork will be followed by the development and presentation of the research project.

Prerequisite: 75 points above Stage I, including at least 15 points from EARTHSCI 201, 260-262, GEOG 260-262, GEOLOGY 201

Restriction: GEOG 330

15 Points

Climate and Ocean Processes

An examination of the climate system and the processes that determine global balances. The structure and circulation of the atmosphere and ocean will be presented and the ways in which they interact to create climate variability will be discussed. Material will also include techniques used to measure and model the climate system.

Prerequisite: 45 points at Stage II, including 15 points from EARTHSCI 260-263, GEOG 260-263, or equivalent

Restriction: GEOG 360

15 Points

Exploration Geophysics

Introduction to geophysical methods and their applications. The course will provide a comprehensive overview on seismic methods, an introduction to gravity, electric, magnetic, electromagnetic, and radar techniques, and a short overview on other methods. Applications include hydrocarbon exploration, mineral exploration, studies of the shallow sub-surface and the deep Earth. Recommended preparation: Understanding of mathematics covered in MATHS 102 or 110 and geology covered in EARTHSCI 103 or 120 is assumed.

Prerequisite: 15 points from EARTHSCI 201-204, 220, GEOLOGY 201-204, 220, PHYSICS 230, 231

Restriction: GEOLOGY 361, GEOPHYS 361

15 Points

Engineering Geology

An integration of quantitative and qualitative concepts in geology as applied to engineering projects. Fundamentals of soil and rock mechanics will be introduced. Topics covered in the course include landslides, dewatering schemes, contaminant transport, foundations, mines (open-pit and underground), dams, tunnels, urban geology, and transportation infrastructures. Case studies are used in lectures to demonstrate the importance of geology and water to engineering projects. Fieldwork is required.

Prerequisite: CIVIL 220 or EARTHSCI 201 or 220 or GEOLOGY 201, and 30 points from EARTHSCI 201-263, GEOG 260-263, GEOLOGY 202-205

Restriction: CIVIL 726, GEOLOGY 372

15 Points

Field Focused Research in Earth System Science

An in-depth research based course that acts as an introduction to researching within an Earth System Sciences paradigm. Students will conduct their own independent research and interact with the vibrant research community of the University of Auckland through critically reading scientific papers, attending research presentations, and preparing their own research to be shared through a research report and professional research presentation.

Prerequisite: Permission of Academic Head

15 Points

Directed Study: Field-focused Research in Earth Sciences

Prerequisite: Permission of Academic Head

15 Points

Capstone: Research and Practice in Earth Sciences

Students will engage in research and/or practice in Earth Sciences, utilising skills and knowledge acquired in preparatory papers. This course provides Earth Science majoring students with an opportunity to embed themselves within a research group and/or employer, and to apply their skills to outreach, a research project or internship, the outcomes of which will then be presented and assessed in a variety of formats from a formal written report through to oral presentation and/or press release.

Prerequisite: 30 points at Stage III in Earth Sciences

Postgraduate 700 Level Courses

15 Points

Hydrothermal Systems: Geothermal Energy and Ore Deposits

Active hydrothermal systems are dynamic and of vital significance to national energy requirements. In addition, their fossil equivalents are often important sites for ore deposition. This course overviews the geologic, hydrologic, and geochemical features of hydrothermal systems with an emphasis on exploration and development of active systems for geothermal energy, and fossil systems for mineral resources.

Restriction: GEOLOGY 703

15 Points

Directed Study in Earth Sciences

Prerequisite: Head of School approval

15 Points


Contemporary methods used to identify and assess natural hazards, techniques used for the probabilistic forecasting, spatial representation and communication of hazards. How the relationship between hazard information, risk mitigation and emergency management is addressed. There will be a strong focus on the use of case studies.

Restriction: GEOLOGY 705

15 Points

Special Topic

15 Points

Special Topics in Earth Sciences

A series of half-course modules from which students must study at least two. Topics that will be generally offered include, but are not restricted to, Ore Deposit Geology, Advanced Mineralogy, Analytical Geochemistry, Igneous Petrology and Geochemistry, and Palaeontology: Origins and Evolution of Life.

Prerequisite: Head of School approval

15 Points

Research Topic in Earth Sciences

Prerequisite: Head of School approval

15 Points

Tectonic Geomorphology

New Zealand is an ideal location in which to investigate the interplay between tectonics and geomorphic processes. This will be demonstrated by combining relevant case studies and field practice whereby students will develop skills in report writing and handling of some of the data, literature and tools necessary to conduct field research in active tectonics and landform generation.

Restriction: GEOG 743, GEOLOGY 713, 773

15 Points

Earthquake Geology

Understanding why, how and where earthquakes occur from identification of their source parameters to consideration of their effects (ground shaking, fault rupture and crustal stress changes). Topics include seismic style, earthquake size and source parameters, recurrence interval, conditions for failure, and earthquakes as agents for crustal fluid redistribution.

Restriction: GEOLOGY 712, 714

15 Points

Geochemistry of our World

Provides a broad overview of applications of geochemistry across multiple disciplines. In addition, this course will help determine the suitability of different analytical techniques to different problems while providing practical experience in collecting and evaluating geochemical data. Subject areas are wide-reaching and include, geology, environmental science, biology, archaeology, and forensic sciences. No formal prerequisite but knowledge of introductory chemistry will be assumed.

Restriction: GEOLOGY 720

15 Points

Reconstructing Environmental Change

Examines key issues in environmental change with an emphasis on the South West Pacific during the Quaternary. Methods applied to reconstruct and constrain the timing of environmental change are explored, including glacial geomorphology, environmental isotopes, micro- and macro-fossil remains such as pollen, diatoms and wood, and relevant geochronologic techniques. No formal prerequisite, but an understanding equivalent to EARTHSCI 307, GEOG 334 or GEOLOGY 303 will be assumed.

Restriction: GEOG 732

15 Points

Understanding Volcanic Systems

Understanding how and why volcanoes erupt from magma processes in mantle to eruption at the surface. All tectonic settings and explosive and effusive processes are examined. Volcanic hazards and resource exploration in volcanic terrain is also covered.

Restriction: GEOLOGY 751, 752

15 Points

Pure and Applied Sedimentology

An integrated account of aspects of advanced sedimentology from sediment source to sink. Critical examination of recent and ongoing, pure and applied research into the dynamics of sedimentary environments and their recognition in the ancient record. No formal prerequisite, but knowledge of sedimentology and sedimentary processes at the level covered in GEOG 262 or GEOLOGY 202 will be assumed.

Restriction: GEOLOGY 754

15 Points

Integrated Basin Exploration

Students will conduct exploration and characterisation of a sedimentary reservoir in the context of basin analysis. The geological background of a sedimentary reservoir is supported by a one-day field trip to Waiheke Island to understand scale, facies and depositional processes and their relation to seismic imaging. The course is project based and students will independently develop a geological model by integrating field observations, seismic velocity analysis and, borehole and 3D seismic interpretation. An understanding of the content of EARTHSCI 361 or GEOPHYS 361 will be assumed.

Restriction: GEOPHYS 760

15 Points

Sub-surface Geophysical Exploration

The practice behind exploring the subsurface using seismic waves, ground-penetrating radar, and potential field methods. The course consists of four modules focusing on the rock physics background of geophysical techniques, aspects of geophysical studies of reservoirs, ground-penetrating radar surveys, as well as interpretation of gravity, magnetic and electrical data.

Prerequisite: GEOPHYS 330, EARTHSCI 361 or GEOPHYS 361 or equivalent

Restriction: GEOPHYS 761, 762, 763

15 Points

Engineering Geological Mapping

A field-based course which provides hands-on experience in outcrop mapping, geomorphic mapping, and simple field testing of rocks and soils for geotechnical purposes.

Prerequisite: GEOLOGY 372

Restriction: GEOLOGY 701

15 Points

Advanced Engineering Geology

Advanced engineering geology focused on engineering practice. Interpretation of in-situ testing and laboratory test data (including groundwater) for the derivation of design parameters for input into numerical modeling software. The topics covered include, but are not limited to, design and analysis of site investigation, advanced core logging, slope stability analysis, rock fall assessment, introduction to numerical modeling, liquefaction and seismic hazard assessment for engineering design.

Restriction: GEOLOGY 771

15 Points


Introduces aquifers and aquifer properties; the various processes and techniques utilised in the discovery, development and assessment of groundwater resources; groundwater in construction; groundwater contamination.

Restriction: GEOLOGY 772

15 Points

Advanced Field Earth Sciences

An advanced field-based course in geological and earth surface processes. This will be held at a field station in New Zealand. Students will be exposed to terrains and techniques that build on their undergraduate field studies. Students will undertake semi-independent fieldwork such as terrain and geologic mapping, and reconstruct a 500 million history of New Zealand. No formal prerequisite, but an understanding equivalent to EARTHSCI 301, 320 or 330 will be assumed.

60 Points

BAdvSci(Hons) Dissertation in Geology

Prerequisite: Programme Coordinator approval

30 Points

15 Points

15 Points

BSc(Hons) Dissertation in Earth Sciences

To complete this course students must enrol in EARTHSCI 789 A and B, or EARTHSCI 789

30 Points

60 Points

Thesis in Engineering Geology

To complete this course students must enrol in EARTHSCI 794 A and B

60 Points

60 Points

MSc Thesis in Earth Sciences

To complete this course students must enrol in EARTHSCI 796 A and B