EARTHSCI 705 : Geohazards


2020 Semester Two (1205) (15 POINTS)

Course Prescription

Contemporary methods used to identify and assess natural hazards, techniques used for the probabilistic forecasting, spatial representation and communication of hazards. How the relationship between hazard information, risk mitigation and emergency management is addressed. There will be a strong focus on the use of case studies.

Course Overview

This course provides an insight into the interdisciplinary nature of Geohazards research. It describes current methods for identifying and assessing volcanic, seismic, and landslide hazards, and describes how these hazards can be represented spatially in hazard maps. It also discusses how hazard information combines with exposure and vulnerability data to assess and manage risk, and how this is carried out in multi-hazard environments such as New Zealand. The course stresses the importance of good science communication in effective hazard, risk and emergency management, and teaches what can help or hinder this communication process. The course is based on a series of workshops, which incorporate both lectures and participatory activities. Case studies from around the world are used to illustrate concepts, approaches and challenges. A role-playing exercise will bring students together with stakeholders of hazard research, such as emergency managers, thus providing students with first-hand experience of the real world of emergency management. A one-day practical field experience around the Auckland Volcanic Field will give students an exciting opportunity to face the practicalities and challenges of geologic hazard assessment, risk mitigation and emergency management in a big city.

Course Requirements

Restriction: GEOLOGY 705

Capabilities Developed in this Course

Capability 1: Disciplinary Knowledge and Practice
Capability 2: Critical Thinking
Capability 4: Communication and Engagement
Capability 5: Independence and Integrity

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be able to:
  1. Explain the difference between hazard, vulnerability, capacity, and risk and use terminology correctly (Capability 1)
  2. Name the main principles of geological hazard assessment (Capability 1)
  3. Display a basic knowledge of operational hazard, risk and emergency management practices in New Zealand (Capability 1)
  4. Recognise the interdisciplinary nature of hazard research and hazard management, including the complications and difficulties in practice that result from being interdisciplinary (Capability 2)
  5. Apply principals of science communication in different contexts, including identifying and using effective formats for a range of audiences (Capability 4)
  6. Actively engage and participate in a range of learning activities, including full participation in group work (Capability 5)


Assessment Type Percentage Classification
Hazard Report 20% Individual Coursework
Fact Sheet 20% Individual Coursework
Group poster on risk 20% Group Coursework
Course contract 40% Group & Individual Coursework
Assessment Type Learning Outcome Addressed
1 2 3 4 5 6
Hazard Report
Fact Sheet
Group poster on risk
Course contract

Key Topics

The course is divided into 3 blocks 

Block 1: Hazard
Block 2: Science Communication and Emergency Management 
Block 3: Risk and Disaster Risk Reduction

Learning Resources

There is no required textbook.  Necessary readings for specific topics will be provided on Canvas. 

Special Requirements

Two exercises that require participation outside of standard hours. The first is also off campus: 
Field trip around the Auckland Volcanic Field: Sunday 6 September.  Start and finish outside library in Alfred St.
Role Play exercise: Monday 7 September (on campus).

The course contract sets the expectations for participation. Below is the description given to students. 
EARTHSCI 705 uses a course contract to support student learning and to facilitate teacher-student and student-student collaboration and engagement. If you follow the contract for the entire semester, you will receive 100% for the course contract component of your grade (worth 40%), plus whatever marks you achieve in the three assignments (worth 60%). If you do not meet the expectations in the contract, you will have marks removed from this component. You are responsible for being aware of and following the contract stipulations. The grades for the course contract component are spread over three blocks: Block 1 (10%); Block 2 (20%) and Block 3 (10%). At the end of each block, marks for that block will be released. Anyone who has not received full marks for the block will receive an email from the course coordinator explaining the breaches of contract that have led to a lower mark.
The Course Contract expects you to:
1. Attend all workshops in all three blocks (you should arrive on time and stay for the duration). You must attend all three blue workshops, and miss no more than one black workshop across the semester (unless you have a valid excuse such as sickness, proven with a doctor’s certificate. Please note that work, workload, holidays, and computer and transport issues are not valid reasons);
2. Meet due dates for all three major assignments; any extensions must be pre-arranged with the course coordinator;
3. Prepare all work with integrity and avoid plagiarism (note that all work uploaded to canvas will be checked by Turnitin, which is an online plagiarism checker);
4. Complete all preparation tasks by due dates, uploading to Canvas as and when required, missing no more than one preparation task per block (note that extensions will not be given for preparation tasks);
5. Not use your device during classes and workshops unless it is needed for an activity;
6. Give thoughtful peer feedback during class workshops and work faithfully with your group on other collaborative tasks (e.g., group assignment, sharing papers, commenting on drafts, peer editing, on-line discussion boards, answering peer questions);
7. Be honest and open to new approaches during class;
8. Encourage a diversity of opinions on all topics and give everyone the opportunity for equal participation;
9. Participate fully in both whole-class and group activities, and try your best!
Individual breaches of contract will result in a 1-10% reduction in the course contract portion of your final course grade, depending on severity. Major breaches include plagiarism, missing any blue activity without a valid excuse, or missing more than one black workshop without a valid excuse. For example, if you miss a blue activity without a valid excuse, but meet all other expectations of the course contract, your final grade will include 30% for the course contract component, i.e. 40% minus 10%. Less serious breaches include late submission of assignments (although please note that university regulations regarding late submission will also apply to the individual assignment grade) and missing more than one preparation task per block (note there are no extensions for preparation tasks, these are either completed or not completed).

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 26 hours of lectures and workshops, a 7-hour field trip, a 6 hour role-play exercise, and 71 hours of reading and thinking about the content and working on assignments and tasks.

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.


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 14/07/2020 09:46 a.m.