ENVSCI 399 : Capstone: Environmental Science


2024 Semester Two (1245) (15 POINTS)

Course Prescription

Students will engage with the research process, as practised in environmental science. Independent or small group research projects will be undertaken under the guidance of an academic mentor. Students will design and complete an independent research project and communicate their findings. The emphasis is on research skills and assisting students in developing and implementing their independent academic research project.

Course Overview

Students will engage in a collaborative project focused on a place-based environmental issue. In this capstone course the class will work together to explore place-based environmental issues focused around the Manukau Harbour and neighbouring areas of the Waitākere Ranges. A one-day field trip will allow the students to explore the environmental issues in practice. Students will work in small teams for the duration of the semester, under the guidance of an academic mentor, to analyze components of one a particular environmental issue. Teams will define and collect the scientific information needed to scope the problem and communicate their findings in a range of ways. Teams will assemble in group meetings to explore different facets of the overarching environmental issue. Teams will communicate their findings to the class who will work to understand how the various environmental issues and problems are interrelated.

Students will indicate environmental issues of most interest to them and spend most of the semester focusing on that issue in small groups. All students will explore the interactions between their focus issue and other environmental issues impacting the Manukau Harbour. Environmental issues explored in this course include:

  • Water supply and health
  • Forest fire risk
  • Kauri dieback and rāhui
  • Coastal flooding/sea-level rise
  • Coastal erosion
  • Contaminants and wastewater
  • Sustainable development and urban design

This course contains no formal lectures. Rather, students will be required to attend several in-class sessions, the field trip and weekly small group meetings.  

Course Requirements

Prerequisite: 30 points at Stage III in Environmental Science or 15 points at Stage III in Environmental Science and 15 points from other Stage III courses included in the major

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. Work collaboratively in a team to assess an environmental problem and present information about it to a diverse audience through oral and written presentations (Capability 6, 7 and 8)
  2. Identify, explain and evaluate environmental problems, synthesize relevant knowledge, and propose pathways to solving them (Capability 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5)
  3. Demonstrate an understanding of of Te Tiriti o Waitangi by explaining its relevance to a place-based environmental issue (Capability 1 and 3)
  4. Find, read, critically discuss and apply information, independently and as a team, to assess and propose solutions to an environmental problem (Capability 1, 4 and 7)


Assessment Type Percentage Classification
Presentation 10% Group Coursework
Field Journal 30% Individual Coursework
Video 25% Group Coursework
Reports 30% Individual Coursework
Quizzes 5% Individual Coursework
Assessment Type Learning Outcome Addressed
1 2 3 4
Field Journal
Two assignments are completed as a group - the presentation and the video assignment. 
Three assignments are completed as an individual. 


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. This course is supported by our Programme Coordinator, Kaiāwhina/Māori student adviser, and Pacific student adviser. They are able to organize group study and facilitate direct assistance regarding material taught in this course. 

Special Requirements

There is a compulsory field trip associated with this course. This usually occurs on the Monday of the second week of the mid-semester break. The field trip takes us to key sites within Manukau Harbour and the Waitākere Ranges, where environmental issues are explored in practice. 

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 a 2-day (20 hours) residential field trip, 7 hours of team meetings, 4 hours of lecture, and 119 hours of work on assignments and reflect on course content.

Delivery Mode

Campus Experience

Attendance is required at scheduled activities including field trips and class meetings to complete components of the course.
Lectures will be available as recordings. Other learning activities including meetings will not be available as recordings.
The course will include live online events including group discussions.
The activities for the course are scheduled as a standard weekly timetable plus a field trip.

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.

All resources are provided through Canvas. A Talis reading list is provided with scientific articles, reports and other relevant documents. The reading list is structured according to environmental issue topics. 

Health & Safety


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.


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 http://disability.auckland.ac.nz

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 https://www.auckland.ac.nz/en/students/academic-information/exams-and-final-results/during-exams/aegrotat-and-compassionate-consideration.html.

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 https://www.auckland.ac.nz/en/students/forms-policies-and-guidelines/student-policies-and-guidelines/student-charter.html.


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 06/11/2023 08:40 a.m.