GEOG 331 : Fluvial Geomorphology


2020 Semester One (1203) (15 POINTS)

Course Prescription

An integrated study of hydrological and fluvial processes in a river basin context. Content includes interpretation of channel and floodplain landforms, flow and sediment transport relationships, and analysis of landscape evolution. Scientific principles are applied to selected practical problems.

Course Overview

This course presents an integrated study of applied and theoretical concepts in river geomorphology, from channel turbulence and sediment particle entrainment, to larger catchment-scale dynamics and system response to land-use impacts. Course work will involve integrating a range of climate, river discharge and sediment data with catchment characteristics and morphologic mapping to develop a holistic picture of catchment function. 
The course includes a range of lectures, discussion sessions, practical classes, presentations and a field trip. The field trip will include both demonstration and application of a range of fundamental skills in river geomorphology. 

Course Requirements

Prerequisite: 45 points at Stage II, including EARTHSCI 262 or GEOG 262, or equivalent

Capabilities Developed in this Course

Capability 1: Disciplinary Knowledge and Practice
Capability 2: Critical Thinking
Capability 3: Solution Seeking
Capability 4: Communication and Engagement
Capability 5: Independence and Integrity
Capability 6: Social and Environmental Responsibilities
Graduate Profile: Bachelor of Science

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be able to:
  1. Analyse relationships between river processes and landforms (Capability 1, 2 and 3)
  2. Analyse and interpret controls upon catchment-scale patterns of river character and behaviour (Capability 1, 3 and 6)
  3. Understand the mechanics of longitudinal and planform river adjustment to natural and human impacts on river systems (Capability 1, 2 and 3)
  4. Demonstrate capacity to ‘read the landscape’, based on a range of data sources (Capability 2, 4, 5 and 6)
  5. Evaluate catchment-scale sediment budgets (Capability 1 and 4)
  6. Apply mapping and quantitative tools for computational river analyses (Capability 1, 3 and 5)


Assessment Type Percentage Classification
Project 12% Group Coursework
Laboratories 48% Individual Coursework
Final Exam 40% Individual Examination
Assessment Type Learning Outcome Addressed
1 2 3 4 5 6
Final Exam

Key Topics

Catchment-scale relations in fluvial geomorphology 
River diversity and patterns of river types
River behaviour, evolution and catchment-scale sediment flux 
River sedimentology
Channel hydraulics
Principles of erosion, transport and deposition
Human impacts on river systems
Use of emerging technologies to support river science and management
Geomorphology and river health

Learning Resources

Fryirs, K. and Brierley, G.J. 2013. Geomorphic Analysis of River Systems: An approach to Reading the landscape. Blackwell, Oxford, UK. 

Special Requirements

Your full attendance to classes and other activities is vital to your successful completion of this course. The course has been crafted as a coherent whole, built largely around the field trip exercise. We ‘hit the ground running’ – you will have a specified reading in week 1, setting up a presentation in week 2. It is not possible for students to miss classes and hope to catch-up later. You should contact the course coordinator if you have concerns about attendance or if you are absent for a period.  

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 18 hours of lectures, a 12 hour tutorial, 88 hours of reading, thinking about the content, working on assignments and 12 hours of test preparation. Note, we have endeavoured to ensure the time spent on assignment tasks approximately balances the mark awarded for any piece of work.

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

A moderate degree of fitness is required for the field trip. If you have any concerns, please see the course coordinator. 

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.

Lectures - We strongly advise you to attend all lectures. This is where we communicate the basic content for the course. In some instances for this course, lecture sessions include student presentations. In addition, there will be many discussions and a fish bowl exercise. These sessions are considered to be fundamental to your learning.  
Labs – You are strongly advised to attend all three laboratory class sessions. They link directly to the field trip, so failure to attend one of these sessions may impact upon your performance elsewhere in the course. 
There may be unavoidable occasions (illness/ family bereavement) when you find you have to miss a laboratory session. If this happens, we urge you to attend the other session in the same week.  

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.

As continuous assessment is an integral part of this course, we will endeavour to provide feedback as quickly as possible (within one week of the hand-in time, other than the field trip report which will be marked and returned by the end of classes in Week 12).

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 11/01/2020 03:09 p.m.