EARTHSCI 202 : Earth History


2020 Semester One (1203) (15 POINTS)

Course Prescription

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.

Course Overview

Initially the principles and methods used to unravel the long and complex physical and organic history of the Earth are introduced.  These are then applied as you are taken on a tour of the 4.5 billion-year history of the Earth.

Course Requirements

Prerequisite: 75 points, including at least 15 points from EARTHSCI 103, 120, GEOLOGY 103, 104 Restriction: GEOLOGY 202

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. Understand and describe the various principles and methods used in determining Earth's history (Capability 1, 2 and 4)
  2. Understand and describe the physical and biological evolution of the earth (Capability 1, 2 and 4)
  3. Synthesise a wide range of geologic information into a coherent geologic map, cross-section and report (Capability 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5)
  4. Interpret and communicate paleoenvironmental and paleoecological conditions using fossils, sedimentary rocks and sedimentary structures (Capability 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5)
  5. Construct a basic taxonomic hierarchy and biostratigraphic framework from fossil data (Capability 1, 2 and 3)
  6. Recognise important fossil groups from the last three geoloic eras (Capability 1)


Assessment Type Percentage Classification
Laboratories 0% Group & Individual Coursework
Assignments 25% Individual Coursework
Reports 20% Individual Coursework
Essay 15% Individual Coursework
Final Exam 40% Individual Coursework
Assessment Type Learning Outcome Addressed
1 2 3 4 5 6
Final Exam
*Lab work is checked for completeness by instructors before leaving the lab


A Tuakana tutor is assignned to this course - see CANVAS for details.

Key Topics

The following topics are covered during the course (generally in this order):
  • Geologic dating
  • Stratigraphy
  • Sedimentology
  • Evolution
  • Taxonomy
  • Biostratigraphy
  • Paleoecology
  • Development of continents and early life
  • The Paleozoic Era
  • The Mesozoic Era
  • The Cenozoic Era

Learning Resources

Recommended texts:
  • Wicander, R. and Monroe, J.S., 2013. Historical Geology – Evolution of Earth and Life through Time (8th edition).  Brooks/Cole Publishers;
  • Tucker, M.E., 2001.  Sedimentary Petrology (3rd edition).  Blackwell Publishing.

Special Requirements

  • A final mark of 50% or greater is required to pass the course, and sitting the exam is compulsory (although an exam pass is not mandatory to pass the course).  The final grade will consist of an aggregate of marks from all of the following – laboratory assignments, an integrated exercise, a field trip report, an essay and the final exam.
  • A compulsory one-day field trip to Matheson Bay will be undertaken on one Saturday during the semester, details to be confirmed.  Attendance is mandatory and the field trip forms the basis for a geologic map and report worth 20% of the final grade for the course.
  • Laboratories are compulsory, and attendance is mandatory and will be recorded.  Laboratories run weekly (Weeks 1-11) and begin at 5 minutes past the hour – be seated in the lab and be ready to begin working by this time.  Late-comers and non-attendees will be noted and an explanation (believable) required.  Persistent lateness and/or non-attendance may result in exclusion from further labs.

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.  The following time inputs are indicative of what a student may spend on this course:
  • During the course - 36 hours lectures (36 x 1 hour lectures); 33 hours laboratories (11 x 3 hour laboratories); 6 hours field trips (1 x 6 hour field trip); 45 hours self-study (readings, etc), and assignment, essay and field trip report preparation.
  • Additionally - 27 hours exam preparation; 3 hours exam.

Other Information

Course content related communications:
All course content related discussions, questions, etc., for the course will be conducted through Piazza.  Personal matters will still be dealt with through email, but course content related questions will not be responded to.  You are encouraged to ask questions when you are struggling to understand concepts.  The quicker you begin asking questions on Piazza the quicker you will benefit from the collective knowledge of your classmates and instructors.

Email policy:
Emails will only be responded to during normal weekday working hours so please do not expect rapid responses outside these times.  As a courtesy, and to ensure a more rapid response, ensure the following:
  • emails should be sent from your University of Auckland email account
  • include your name and student ID# in the email
  • the subject line should clearly indicate the course number and what the email concerns
  • emails should be written in a professional manner, spell-checked and proof-read before sending
  • do not use txt or social media-type speak in emails

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.

Lecture notes, laboratory exercises and assignment material:
Lecture notes, laboratory exercises (and any accompanying notes) and assignments (and any accompanying material) are downloaded from CANVAS.  Lecture notes will be made available at lecturers’ discretion; laboratory material will be available at least 1 day (generally more) prior to laboratories; availability of assignments will be advised.  No hard copies are provided.

Lecture recordings:
Edited recordings of all lectures (barring unforseen technical issues) will be made available within 3 days of the lecture.  These can be accessed from CANVAS.


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.

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 20/12/2019 12:47 p.m.