EARTHSCI 102 : Foundation for Earth Sciences


2020 Semester Two (1205) (15 POINTS)

Course Prescription

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.

Course Overview

This course aims at BSc students majoring in Earth Science and neighboring disciplines.  The course consists of four modules of three weeks each. 
  • Weeks 1-3: Mathematical foundations behind many of the methods used in the Earth and Environmental Sciences. 
  • Weeks 4-6: Computational methods.  These will be taught in computer laboratories to gain hands-on experience in Python-based programming for geospatial applications.
  • Weeks 5-9: Introduction into the Physics behind many processes in the Earth and the Environment.   
  • Weeks 10-12: Introduction into Chemistry in the Earth and Environmental Sciences.
The course will provide students with quantitative foundations for a number of Stage 2 or Stage 3 classes focusing on applications in the broader geosciences. 

Course Requirements

Restriction: EARTHSCI 263

Capabilities Developed in this Course

Capability 1: Disciplinary Knowledge and Practice
Capability 2: Critical Thinking
Capability 3: Solution Seeking
Graduate Profile: Bachelor of Science

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate ability to apply mathematical approaches to solving problems in the Earth Sciences. (Capability 1, 2 and 3)
  2. Explain the basic physical and chemical principles underlying processes in the Earth. (Capability 1, 2 and 3)
  3. Describe and apply computational methods in the study of the Earth, including generation of simple computer codes. (Capability 1, 2 and 3)


Assessment Type Percentage Classification
Final Exam 50% Individual Examination
Quizzes 10% Individual Examination
Reports 40% Individual Coursework
Assessment Type Learning Outcome Addressed
1 2 3
Final Exam
2 quizzes (math, physics)
4 lab. reports, each module

Key Topics

The course consists of four modules over three weeks each:
1. Mathematical methods include vectors, trigonometry, rates of change, linear equations, and statistical methods.
2. Geocomputational methods focus on the implementation of common techniques used in spatial data analysis using Python.
3. Physics includes forces, gravity, heat, electricity, magnetism, rock deformation, and waves.
4. Geochemistry includes atomic structures, the periodic table, chemical bonding, mineral properties, silicate crystals, melts, and geologically important elements.  Commonly used methods such as isotopic clocks, tracers, and proxies will be introduced as well as energy and kinetics in geological processes. 

Learning Resources

Recommended text books:
Physics: Chapman, R.E., 2002, Physics for Geologists (Taylor and Francis, 2nd ed.)
Chemistry: Gill R., 2015, Chemical Fundamentals of Geology and Environmental Geoscience (Wiley, 3rd ed.)
Available as e-books from the library.

Special Requirements


Workload Expectations

This course is a standard 15 point course and students are expected to spend 10 hours per week involved in each 15 point course that they are enrolled in.

For this course, you can expect 36 hours of lectures, a 24 hour tutorial, 60 hours of reading and thinking about the content and 30 hours of work on assignments and/or test preparation.

Digital Resources

Course materials are made available in a learning and collaboration tool called Canvas which also includes reading lists and lecture recordings (where available).

Please remember that the recording of any class on a personal device requires the permission of the instructor.


The content and delivery of content in this course are protected by copyright. Material belonging to others may have been used in this course and copied by and solely for the educational purposes of the University under license.

You may copy the course content for the purposes of private study or research, but you may not upload onto any third party site, make a further copy or sell, alter or further reproduce or distribute any part of the course content to another person.

Academic Integrity

The University of Auckland will not tolerate cheating, or assisting others to cheat, and views cheating in coursework as a serious academic offence. The work that a student submits for grading must be the student's own work, reflecting their learning. Where work from other sources is used, it must be properly acknowledged and referenced. This requirement also applies to sources on the internet. A student's assessed work may be reviewed against online source material using computerised detection mechanisms.

Inclusive Learning

All students are asked to discuss any impairment related requirements privately, face to face and/or in written form with the course coordinator, lecturer or tutor.

Student Disability Services also provides support for students with a wide range of impairments, both visible and invisible, to succeed and excel at the University. For more information and contact details, please visit the Student Disability Services’ website at

Special Circumstances

If your ability to complete assessed coursework is affected by illness or other personal circumstances outside of your control, contact a member of teaching staff as soon as possible before the assessment is due.

If your personal circumstances significantly affect your performance, or preparation, for an exam or eligible written test, refer to the University’s aegrotat or compassionate consideration page:

This should be done as soon as possible and no later than seven days after the affected test or exam date.

Student Feedback

During the course Class Representatives in each class can take feedback to the staff responsible for the course and staff-student consultative committees.

At the end of the course students will be invited to give feedback on the course and teaching through a tool called SET or Qualtrics. The lecturers and course co-ordinators will consider all feedback.

Your feedback helps to improve the course and its delivery for all students.

Comments on individual lectures and assignments taken into account.

Student Charter and Responsibilities

The Student Charter assumes and acknowledges that students are active participants in the learning process and that they have responsibilities to the institution and the international community of scholars. The University expects that students will act at all times in a way that demonstrates respect for the rights of other students and staff so that the learning environment is both safe and productive. For further information visit Student Charter (


Elements of this outline may be subject to change. The latest information about the course will be available for enrolled students in Canvas.

In this course you may be asked to submit your coursework assessments digitally. The University reserves the right to conduct scheduled tests and examinations for this course online or through the use of computers or other electronic devices. Where tests or examinations are conducted online remote invigilation arrangements may be used. The final decision on the completion mode for a test or examination, and remote invigilation arrangements where applicable, will be advised to students at least 10 days prior to the scheduled date of the assessment, or in the case of an examination when the examination timetable is published.

Published on 13/07/2020 04:54 p.m.