EARTHSCI 220 : Practice in Earth Sciences 1


2024 Semester One (1243) (15 POINTS)

Course Prescription

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.

Course Overview

This course introduces the fundamental skills and methods required for Earth Science fieldwork. This will enable students to read and document the landscape around them. Detailed, accurate field observations and mapping are essential for extrapolating meaningful geological and geomorphic interpretations. Skills are developed through a series of integrated lectures, laboratories, and field trips. Students will be required to participate in a residential field experience and undertake independent fieldwork.

This course will provide Earth science and physical geography students with a well-rounded introduction to mapping, the use of remote sensing, field techniques and instrumentation, data collection, laboratory analysis, and interpretation of field data. As students progress through the course they will build an understanding of the geology and geomorphology of the Auckland and Port Waikato areas. The skills learned in the course provide the foundation for extended development in Earth Science courses throughout the Earth Science and Geography majors.

Major fields of investigation in the Earth Sciences focus on understanding the development and continual change of landforms and better resolving the influence of tectonic, volcanic, climatic, hydrological, and oceanographic processes controlling landform change. An improved understanding of landform development, the interconnectedness of landform units, and morphological dynamics provide a critical physical template to consider: the appropriateness of human occupation and uses of the landscape; the effect of human activities on landscape change and approaches to managing landscapes.

In order to study geological materials in the field, geological processes, and landform development and change, earth scientists use a range of tools and skills to characterize, document, and analyze rock types and landforms. Such skills range from field-based descriptions and detailed mapping, field sampling, and surveys to the use of remotely sensed data, modeling techniques, and geospatial analysis. The specific tools applied in any study vary depending on the scope of the research problem and the spatial and temporal dimensions of the landforms units under consideration.

Course Requirements

Prerequisite: 15 points from EARTHSCI 120, GEOG 101 Restriction: EARTHSCI 201, 260

Capabilities Developed in this Course

Capability 1: People and Place
Capability 2: Sustainability
Capability 3: Knowledge and Practice
Capability 4: Critical Thinking
Capability 5: Solution Seeking
Capability 6: Communication
Capability 7: Collaboration
Capability 8: Ethics and Professionalism
Graduate Profile: Bachelor of Science

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate competency at an introductory level with spatial data collection, management, analysis and visualisation; including desktop surveys, an understanding of sampling practice, data capture in the field (surveys, logging, mapping, sketching, photographs), and representation of original data in appropriate formats. (Capability 3 and 6)
  2. Apply a range of work flows and theoretical concepts to interpret the evolution of relatively simple landscapes and landforms. (Capability 4 and 5)
  3. Recognise and acknowledge uncertainty and bias in data. (Capability 3 and 4)
  4. Relate contemporary Earth processes to their long-term (preserved) record. (Capability 2, 3 and 4)
  5. Write and illustrate a concise scientific report. (Capability 4 and 6)
  6. Work effectively and responsibly on independent and collaborative tasks, and demonstrative awareness of needs of others. (Capability 1, 7 and 8)
  7. Demonstrate an understanding of required code of conduct for field work, including recognition of and adherence to health and safety policies. (Capability 1 and 8)


Assessment Type Percentage Classification
Eastern Beach Assignment 10% Individual Coursework
Background & Description Port Waikato Report 10% Individual Coursework
Port Waikato Field Report 50% Individual Coursework
Devonport Mapping Assignment 30% Individual Coursework
Assessment Type Learning Outcome Addressed
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Eastern Beach Assignment
Background & Description Port Waikato Report
Port Waikato Field Report
Devonport Mapping Assignment


Tuākana Science is a multi-faceted programme for Māori and Pacific students providing topic specific tutorials, one-on-one sessions, test and exam preparation and more. Explore your options at

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.

Key Topics

Key topics covered:
  • Topographic & Geologic Maps
  • Geologic structures
  • Geological mapping
  • Reading the landscape
  • Process controls on landscape development
  • Introduction to land surveying
  • Concepts of terrain mapping
  • Conducting field work and field methods
  • Field investigation of geomorphic processes
  • Sedimentology - core logging and grain size analysis
  • Geophysical investigation methods

Special Requirements

Students are required to participate in a compulsory residential field experience in Port Waikato during the week of Monday 8 to Friday 12 April, and undertake independent fieldwork in the Devonport area of Auckland.

Health and safety requirements for fieldwork will be provided, including a field trip participation document which must be completed and signed before fieldwork participation.

Some laboratory exercises may be held in one of the School of Environment laboratories in which case health and safety protocols must be followed. Details will be provided where necessary.

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 24 hours of lectures, 4 hours of tutorials, 48 hours of supervised fieldwork, 8 hours of independent fieldwork, 12 hours of reading and thinking about the content, and 54 hours of work on assignments.

Delivery Mode

Campus Experience

Attendance is expected at scheduled classes including lectures and laboratories/tutorials, and the field trips 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.

The activities for the course are scheduled as a standard weekly timetable.

Learning 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.

There is no prescribed text for this course. There are a number of books that cover the range of material presented in this course. Reading lists will be provided during lectures, with key readings supplied either on Canvas or through the University library.

Health & Safety

Health and safety requirements for field trips and laboratory exercises are outlined in Special Requirements. All aspects of health and safety will be communicated in class or through Canvas announcements.

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.

A review of the Eastern Beach assignment, with an alternate site if required, will be made as part of the 2024 course delivery.

Other Information

For the field work you will need a ‘Rite in the Rain’ field notebook. Details of where field notebooks can be purchased will be advised.

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 for potential plagiarism or other forms of academic misconduct, using computerised detection mechanisms.

Class Representatives

Class representatives are students tasked with representing student issues to departments, faculties, and the wider university. If you have a complaint about this course, please contact your class rep who will know how to raise it in the right channels. See your departmental noticeboard for contact details for your class reps.


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 course assessment continues to meet the principles of the University’s assessment policy. Some adjustments may need to be made in emergencies. You will be kept fully informed by your course co-ordinator/director, and if disruption occurs you should refer to the university website for information about how to proceed.

The delivery mode may change depending on COVID restrictions. Any changes will be communicated through Canvas.

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 students may be asked to submit 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. In exceptional circumstances changes to elements of this course may be necessary at short notice. Students enrolled in this course will be informed of any such changes and the reasons for them, as soon as possible, through Canvas.

Published on 31/10/2023 10:51 a.m.