GEOG 101 : Earth Surface Processes and Landforms


2023 Semester Two (1235) (15 POINTS)

Course Prescription

Understanding of the functioning of natural systems at the Earth's surface and human interactions with these systems. Examines the operation and interaction between Atmospheric, Hydrological, Ecological and Geomorphic systems. Environmental processes are an integrating theme. Topics include: climate and hydrological systems, ecological processes; surface sediment cycle; and processes governing development and dynamics of major landform types.

Course Overview

GEOG 101 is a required course for students majoring in geography, and it is a prerequisite for both GEOG 261 and GEOG 262. 

The course is divided into three sections: coasts, rivers/landscapes, and climate. 
In the coastal section, we discuss how a combination of increased population pressure, a legacy of past mistakes, and the threat of a rising sea, has led to the need for an improved understanding of coastal processes. We explore a range of processes (waves, rip currents, etc.), landforms (beaches, dunes, etc.), and settings (nearshore zones, coastal oceans, etc.) in order to appreciate the dynamic nature of coastal systems. These systems are naturally adjusting over a range of temporal and spatial scales and this can create hazards for those who have developed infrastructure in coastal areas. We finish the section by assessing the variety of coastal management techniques on offer. 
In the rivers/landscape section, we acknowledge that rivers have played a fundamental role in the development of human society. Their condition is critical to our well-being and thus our analysis of rivers is framed in both a sociocultural context and a landscape context. We examine river diversity, behavior, and evolution in relation to the operation of the water cycle, source-to-sink process relationships in catchments, and understandings of hillslope and glacial processes. Particular emphasis is placed on scientific and management issues in Aotearoa New Zealand. 
In the climate section, we examine the fundamentals of the global climate system (radiation, energy budget, and global winds) and how they result in diverse local climates. We then explore the interrelationships between climate, oceans, and vegetation.  With that knowledge in place, we move on to explore that huge environmental issue of our time – climate change. We look to the past to understand natural variability and how humans have affected and have been affected by climate, and to the future to see how human activity affects climate and impacts some of the other biophysical systems entwined with it. 

Course Requirements

No pre-requisites or restrictions

Capabilities Developed in this Course

Capability 1: Disciplinary Knowledge and Practice
Capability 2: Critical Thinking
Capability 3: Solution Seeking
Capability 4: Communication and Engagement
Graduate Profile: Bachelor of Science

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate a fundamental knowledge of the physical world (Capability 1)
  2. Explain the processes involved in the evolution and adjustment of physical landforms (Capability 1 and 2)
  3. Recognise the role that natural variability and human disturbance play in Earth's systems (Capability 2)
  4. Apply knowledge to real world situations and/or case studies (Capability 2, 3 and 4)


Assessment Type Percentage Classification
Test 20% Individual Test
Laboratories 40% Individual Coursework
Final Exam 40% Individual Examination
Assessment Type Learning Outcome Addressed
1 2 3 4
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. 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. 

Key Topics

• Wave energy  
• Erosion and deposition  
• Sea level rise  
• Coastal management  
• River diversity  
• Process relationships in catchments  
• River evolution, rehabilitation and management  
• Global atmospheric processes  
• Regional climates  
• Past and future climate change  

Special Requirements

This course has no special requirements.

Workload Expectations

During a typical teaching week there will be 3 hours of lectures and, approximately every second week, 2 hours of laboratories. For the 12 teaching weeks, this totals 45 hours. Since the course as a whole represents approximately 150 hours of study, that leaves a total of 105 hours across the entire semester for independent study, e.g. reading, reflection, preparing for assessments/exams, etc.

Delivery Mode

Campus Experience

Attendance is expected at scheduled activities, particularly labs, as these are a required component of the course.

Lectures will be available as recordings. Other learning activities including labs will not be available as recordings.

The course will not include live online events unless we are forced to change our delivery mode.

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.

GEOG 101 does not have a required text book. Instead all required reading material will be provided through 'Reading lists' on 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.

We are investigating a number of suggestions from past 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 against online source material 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 28/10/2022 11:27 a.m.