EARTHSCI 308 : Tectonic and Magmatic Systems


2024 Semester Two (1245) (15 POINTS)

Course Prescription

Explores the tectonic and magmatic evolution of Earth and planetary systems, including their formation, composition, and how they deform. Students are exposed to seminal literature covering the various geological, geochemical, geophysical, and modelling tools and methods used for deciphering Earth deformation and magmatism, and the critical feedbacks between these processes. Recommended preparation: EARTHSCI 203, 208

Course Overview

The tectonic and magmatic evolution of Earth is explored and synthesized through the integration of diverse geological, geochemical, and geophysical approaches, providing context for the current composition, structure, and landscape of our planet. The range of magmatic, tectonic, and geodynamic conditions that influence the form, structure, and long-term climate of the Earth are also considered.

The course will undertake blended learning with digital resources supporting studio-style classes with an emphasis on hands-on learning and discussion. Students will engage with seminal literature and undertake analytical, numerical, geospatial, writing, and presentation tasks to reinforce key concepts and develop practical skills. This course focuses on fundamental science that could underpin development in any facet of the earth sciences but is also of direct relevance to postgraduate courses and careers in volcanology, tectonics, natural hazards, energy, and resources.

This course assumes some background in earth science, geophysics, or similar.    

Course Requirements

Restriction: EARTHSCI 304, 305

Capabilities Developed in this Course

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. Comprehend the formation of the earth from accretion to geodynamic, tectonic, and magmatic processes currently occurring and model aspects of this (Capability 3, 4 and 5)
  2. Recognise the geometrical controls on the structural, basin, magmatic and landscape architecture at plate margins and interiors on earth and model aspects of this (Capability 3, 4 and 5)
  3. Compare and contrast earth and planetary systems to distil out key controls (Capability 4 and 5)
  4. Recognise how different geological, geochemical, geomorphic and geophysical tools can be used to unravel active tectonic and magmatic processes and histories (Capability 3, 4 and 5)
  5. Utilise qualitative and quantitative approaches to model tectonic and magmatic processes (Capability 3, 4 and 5)
  6. Evaluate and synthesise peer-reviewed scientific literature (Capability 4 and 6)
  7. Apply research and science communication skills learnt to produce an independent scientific review (written report) of a selected special topic (Capability 3, 4 and 6)
  8. Be able to work as groups to discuss, evaluate, an communicate how multidisciplinary datasets in Earth Science reflect the various tectonic, magmatic and geodynamic processes occurring at plate boundaries (Capability 3, 4, 6, 7 and 8)


Assessment Type Percentage Classification
Report 30% Individual Coursework
Laboratories exercises and quizzes 45% Individual Coursework
Final Exam 25% Individual Examination
Assessment Type Learning Outcome Addressed
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Laboratories exercises and quizzes
Final Exam


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.
Māori and Pacific's students are encouraged to contact Sonia Fonua ( or Kimoro Taiepa ( for information about the Tuākana programme.

Key Topics

  • Accretion and Differentiation of the Earth
  • Plate Tectonics
  • Mechanisms of Heat and Mass Transport
  • Isostasy
  • Rheology and Fluids
  • Intraplate Volcanism and Large Igneous Provinces
  • Rifting and Magmatism (Mid Ocean Ridges and Continental Rifting)
  • Subduction and Arc Magmatism
  • Tectonic and Magmatic drivers of Long-term Climate

Special Requirements

There are no 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 up to 4 hours of studios/laboratories each week and 6 hours of preparation and work on assignments.

Delivery Mode

Campus Experience

Attendance is expected at scheduled classes including studios and laboratories/tutorials to complete components of the course. Lecture content will be available as recordings but other learning activities including laboratories/studios 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.

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.

A Talis reading list will be provided through the canvas.

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.

Better timing of lab and quiz assessments. Will pull forward the timing of the main internal assessment as it was to close to other end of semester deadlines.

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.