EARTHSCI 720 : Environmental Geochemistry


2024 Semester Two (1245) (15 POINTS)

Course Prescription

Provides a broad overview of applications of geochemistry across multiple disciplines. In addition, this course will help determine the suitability of different analytical techniques to different problems while providing practical experience in collecting and evaluating geochemical data. Subject areas are wide-reaching and include, geology, environmental science, biology, archaeology, and forensic sciences. No formal prerequisite but knowledge of introductory chemistry will be assumed.

Course Overview

This paper will provide you with a broad overview of the principles and applications of geochemistry, and in particular mineral geochemistry, across multiple disciplines.  The topics covered will include the diverse uses of geochemistry in understanding Earth’s geochemical reservoirs, archeology and forensic sciences, environmental geochemistry (such as carbon sequestration, acid mine drainage, and geothermal systems), and medical science. The instructor will deliver introductory material around each week’s topic, however this is a strongly discussion-based course and it is imperative that students read all assigned reading prior to class, attend and participate in discussions. In addition, the laboratory exercises focus on analytical geochemistry. In the labs you will develop an understanding of which analytical techniques are best suited for your research, as well as providing you practical experience + theory in collecting and evaluating geochemical results from a wide range of materials during laboratory classes. 

Course Requirements

No pre-requisites or restrictions

Capabilities Developed in this Course

Capability 1: People and Place
Capability 3: Knowledge and Practice
Capability 4: Critical Thinking
Capability 5: Solution Seeking
Capability 6: Communication
Capability 7: Collaboration
Capability 8: Ethics and Professionalism

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be able to:
  1. Critically reflect on advanced applications of geochemistry in diverse disciplines. (Capability 4)
  2. Critically evaluate and synthesise geochemical literature (Capability 3 and 4)
  3. Communicate knowledgably about geochemical analytical techniques (Capability 6)
  4. Gain practical experience in data processing and assessment (Capability 3 and 5)
  5. Communicate knowledgably about current geochemical literature (Capability 3 and 7)
  6. Critically evaluate technical needs for a geochemical research project (how to choose the right instrument/approach for the job). (Capability 5)
  7. Demonstrate an understanding of the importance that people's diverse backgrounds can provide in group discussions. (Capability 1, 7 and 8)


Assessment Type Percentage Classification
Laboratories 45% Group & Individual Coursework
Coursework 55% Individual Coursework
Assessment Type Learning Outcome Addressed
1 2 3 4 5 6 7


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 students are encouraged to contact Sonia Fonua ( for information about the Tuākana programme.

Key Topics

Weekly topical sessions with geochemical application to: geochemical reservoirs, environmental geochemistry, archaeology, forensics, health, paleoclimate, marine geochemistry

Special Requirements

Laboratory work may require additional hours outside designated lab time. Students may be required to pass health and safety inductions for access to laboratory facilities (General, chemistry).

Workload Expectations

This course is a standard 15 point course with no examination (completely internally assessed).

For this course, you can expect 2 hours of lectures/week, a 2 hour tutorial, 6 hours of reading and thinking about the content and 4 hours of work on assignments per week (for 12 weeks of the course).

Delivery Mode

Campus Experience

Attendance is required at scheduled activities including labs and lectures to complete components of the course.
Lectures will be available as recordings. Other learning activities including labs/tutorials will not be available as recordings.
The course will not include live online events .
The activities for the course are scheduled as a standard weekly timetable.

Special advice for Offshore students : This course is available online only to students resident offshore. The assessment and learning delivery mechanisms will differ from that presented in this Digital Course Outline. Please contact the Course Coordinator for further details (Dr. Michael Rowe;

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 required textbook. However, students are required to read assigned articles from the literature on various topics within the course every week. There are standard geochemical textbooks that provide an additional source of information. Good reference texts are:
Albarede, F. Geochemistry: An Introduction (2nd Edition) (ISBN: 9780521891486)
Treatise on Geochemistry (Second Edition): Available as an e-book through the library

Health & Safety

Students will be expected to have completed relevant health and safety inductions for access to laboratories.

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.

Based on last year's comments from students, this year additional background information will be provided for each topic to help students who are less familiar in particular areas, which can be challenging given the diversity of topics discussed in the class.

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 01/11/2023 10:22 a.m.