EARTHSCI 208 : Earth Structure


2021 Semester Two (1215) (15 POINTS)

Course Prescription

A foundation course that introduces students to descriptive and analytical methods in structural geology. Geological maps are used to help students analyse structural features (e.g., 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.

Course Overview

This is a practical course in structural geology where everything you learn in lectures, labs and homework assignments is integrated into an overall theme culminating in a final report synthesising the structure of a fictitious, but realistic, geologic situation.

As a core requirement of the Earth Science major, knowledge gained here contributes to field and Stage 3 courses in the Earth Sciences, along with higher level vocational pathways (e.g., engineering geology, exploration geology, mining, construction, field geology, academic research in geology).

Course Requirements

Prerequisite: 15 points at Stage I in Earth Sciences Restriction: EARTHSCI 204

Capabilities Developed in this Course

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

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be able to:
  1. Describe and document common structural features in the rock record (Capability 1, 2 and 3)
  2. Apply common techniques and analytical methods to interpret structural history (Capability 1, 2 and 3)
  3. Work confidently and critically with geological maps and cross-sections (Capability 1, 2 and 3)
  4. Project surface information to depth (Capability 1, 2 and 3)
  5. Synthesise analytical results into a formal report (Capability 1, 2, 3 and 4)


Assessment Type Percentage Classification
Laboratories Individual Coursework
Assignments 30% Individual Coursework
Reports 30% Individual Coursework
Final Exam 40% Individual Coursework
Assessment Type Learning Outcome Addressed
1 2 3 4 5
Final Exam


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

Overall, the course looks at key structural topics and integrates all of these into an ovarall structural synthesis in the form of the final report.  Key topics covered are:
  • Working with maps - recognising patterns, structure contours, gaining geologic information
  • Cross-sections - construction, projecting map information to depth
  • Stereographic projections - plotting lines and planes, analysis of folds and faults
  • Folds - geometry, description, analysis
  • Faults - description, dynamic and kinematic analysis
  • Rheology
  • Stress and strain
  • Mohr diagrams

Special Requirements

Laboratories run weekly, are compulsory, and attendance is mandatory and recorded.  Work completed in labs is checked by the instructors before you leave.  Non-attendees will be noted and an explanation (believable) required.  Persistent lateness and/or non-attendance may result in exclusion from further labs.

The assignments section of assessment (30% of overall course mark - see above) comprises 8 homework exercises, the top 6 of which count towards your final mark.

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:  16 hours lectures (16 x 1 hour lectures); 20 hours laboratories (10 x 2 hour laboratories); 32 hours homework (8 homework assignments);  52 hours self-study (readings, etc), tutorials and report preparation; 27 hours exam preparation; 3 hours exam.

Delivery Mode

Campus Experience

Attendance is expected at scheduled classes including lectures and laboratories/tutorials to complete components of the course. Lectures will be available as recordings but other learning activities including laboratories/tutorials will not be available as recordings.
Attendance on campus is required for the final examination.
The activities for the course are scheduled as a standard weekly timetable

Special advice for Offshore students
This course is available online to students resident offshore. The assessment and learning delivery mechanisms may differ from that presented in this Digital Course Outline. Please contact the Course Coordinator for further details - Dr Barry O'Connor,

Learning Resources

Recommended texts:
•    Rowland, S.M, Duebendorfer, E.M. & Schiefelbein, I.M., 2007.  Structural analysis and synthesis (3rd edition).  Blackwell Publishing.  ISBN 978-1-4051-1652-7.
Lab manual on which parts of the course are based.
•    Fossen, H., 2016.  Structural Geology (2nd edition).  Cambridge University Press.  ISBN 978-107-05764-7.
Excellent introductory textbook.
•    Lisle, R.J. & Leyshon, P.R., 2004.  Stereographic projection techniques for geologists and civil engineers (2nd edition).  Cambridge University Press.  ISBN 0521535824.
Excellent book with loads of examples of what we will be doing in class regarding stereonets.

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.

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, homework, assignment and any accompanying material are downloaded from CANVAS.  Lecture notes and laboratory material will be available at least 1 day (generally more) prior to lectures and laboratories.  No hard copies are provided unless stated.

Homework (see above) will be available weekly (timing TBA) on CANVAS.  No hard copies are provided unless stated.

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.

Level 1:  Delivered normally as specified in delivery mode
Level 2: You will not be required to attend in person.  All teaching and assessment will have a remote option.
Level 3 / 4: All teaching activities and assessments are delivered remotely.

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 11:36 p.m.