EARTHSCI 105 : Natural Hazards in New Zealand


2021 Semester Two (1215) (15 POINTS)

Course Prescription

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.

Course Overview

This course examines how normal processes of the earth-atmosphere-hydrosphere-space systems result in events that are capable of dealing disastrous blows to humans on the scale of individual lives to civilizations. We will focus on the geologic processes of events such as earthquakes, landslides, volcanic eruptions, floods, hurricanes, tsunami, tornadoes, climate change, and asteroid impacts, and their local, national and global repercussions. In particular, we will examine the spatial and temporal occurrences of these hazards, methods and processes for hazard preparedness, response and recovery, and the social, economic and policy aspects that affect and, in many cases, compound the magnitude of the disasters associated with these natural phenomena. Case studies are drawn from contemporary and ancient societies.

Course Requirements

No pre-requisites or restrictions

Capabilities Developed in this Course

Capability 1: Disciplinary Knowledge and Practice
Capability 2: Critical Thinking
Capability 3: Solution Seeking
Capability 4: Communication and Engagement
Capability 5: Independence and Integrity
Graduate Profile: Bachelor of Science

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be able to:
  1. Quantify the physical processes that create natural hazards and disasters. (Capability 1 and 2)
  2. Recognize the risks and impacts associated with natural hazards and disasters. (Capability 1, 2 and 3)
  3. Recognize solutions for mitigating or minimizing the impact of hazardous event (Capability 1, 2 and 3)
  4. Demonstrate scientific research skills. (Capability 1, 2, 3 and 4)
  5. Demonstrate and apply scientific analysis skills. (Capability 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5)
  6. Demonstrate and apply critical writing skills. (Capability 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5)


Assessment Type Percentage Classification
Test I 15% Individual Test
Test II 15% Individual Test
Final Examination 20% Individual Examination
Assignments 30% Individual Coursework
Quizzes (10) 20% Individual Coursework
Assessment Type Learning Outcome Addressed
1 2 3 4 5 6
Test I
Test II
Final Examination
Quizzes (10)


As part of the University-wide Tuākana community, The School of Environment Tuākana Programme aims to provide a welcoming learning environment for, and enhance the success of, all of our Māori and Pacific students. We are led by the principles of tautoko (support) and whanaungatanga (connection), and hope you find a home here at the School. Students who have identified as Māori and/or Pacific will receive an invitation to our online portal introducing the Programme, the resources we have available, and how you can get involved.

This course is supported by a designated Tuākana tutor with appropriate knowledge of the course and related skills. They will organise group study sessions and facilitate direct assistance regarding material taught in this course. For more information regarding the Programme feel free to email our Programme Coordinator:

Key Topics

  • Plate Tectonics
  • Earthquakes
  • Tsunami
  • Volcanic eruptions
  • Thunderstorms
  • Tornadoes
  • Floods
  • Cyclonic storms
  • Coastal erosion
  • Wildfires
  • Mass wasting
  • Meteorite impacts
  • Climate change
  • Pandemics
  • Society and the future

Special Requirements

This S2 course is being offered over the World Wide Web as a Distance Education offering. Students will log in to the course site on Canvas to access the course materials (syllabus, assignments, lectures, quizzes). Three exams (two midterm tests and a final exam) will be taken on Canvas. All written assignments will be submitted through the Canvas course Dropbox during the semester. Ten weekly quizzes (in weeks 2-11) will be completed via the Quizzes section of the course Canvas site. 

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 a total of 150 hours.

For this course, you can expect 2 hours of lectures per week (24 hours total), 11 2-hour assignments (weeks 2-12, 22 hours total), 4 hours per week (48 hours total) of reading and thinking about the content and about 2 hours per week (30 hours total) of studying and/or test preparation.

Delivery Mode


Attendance is expected at scheduled online activities including tutorials to receive credit for components of the course.
The course will not include live online events.
Attendance on campus is not required for the tests or exam.
Where possible, study material will be released progressively throughout the course.
This course runs to the University semester/quarter timetable and all the associated completion dates and deadlines will apply.

Learning Resources

Required Textbook:
Earth’s Natural Hazards: Understanding Natural Disasters and Catastrophes, second edition. Ukstins, Ingrid A., and David M Best 2019. Kendall/Hunt, USA, 445pp. ISBN 1524952842.

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.

Other Information

Students will be expected to visit the course site several times a week to:

• Review the “Content” page and get familiarized with all course materials. Most importantly, this page contains links to the PowerPoint lecture videos.

• Review the course homepage regularly for any updates related to the course “Events”.  

• Read the reading assignments for that week's lectures.

• View pre-recorded lectures for that week.

• Take Quizzes. Each week during the semester, in weeks 2 through 11, students will complete an online quiz based on the weekly module content and assigned reading. A link to the quiz will be available on the “Quizzes” page of the course Canvas site.

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.

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.


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.

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

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.

Learning Continuity

In the event of an unexpected disruption we undertake to maintain the continuity and standard of teaching and learning in all your courses throughout the year. If there are unexpected disruptions the University has contingency plans to ensure that access to your course continues and your assessment is fair, and not compromised. Some adjustments may need to be made in emergencies. You will be kept fully informed by your course co-ordinator, and if disruption occurs you should refer to the University Website for information about how to proceed.

All teaching activities and assessments are delivered remotely as the normal mode of this class.

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 07/06/2021 11:25 p.m.