GEOG 399 : Capstone: Geography


2021 Semester Two (1215) (15 POINTS)

Course Prescription

An engagement with the research process, as practised in geography. Students will undertake an independent research project and communicate their findings, with due attention to research design, methodology, research ethics, information sources, field practise, data analysis, and research communication. Independent or small group research projects may involve residential or local fieldwork, laboratory analysis, desktop analysis or other research activities.

Course Overview

The course provides students with experience in designing and executing a research project. Students will undertake a supervised project  in collaboration with other students; these groups being coordinated by an instructor.
Emphasis is placed on:
  1. Research design, including scientific context of the project, logistics and ethical considerations;
  2. Application of appropriate methods and techniques;
  3. Data collection, including field research and other information sources;
  4. Data analysis and interpretation;
  5. Research communication.
The course prepares students for the increasing number of careers that require research, project and communication skills; and is also an introduction to research for those considering postgraduate degrees. 
Topics are recommended by the instructors, and build upon topics and ideas developed in other courses in Geography. As part of the projects students are expected to seek relevant readings and other resources independently, The scheduled classes facilitate the process through supporting the research design, data collection, analysis and communication stage.

For further advice the Course Coordinator is David Hayward (

Course Requirements

Prerequisite: GEOG 250 and 30 points at Stage III in Geography

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. Experience in developing an academic research project, including conceptualising the problem with reference to geographic theory (Capability 1, 2 and 6)
  2. Aquire conceptual and empirical resources (Capability 1 and 3)
  3. Practical experience undertaking geographic research (Capability 1 and 5)
  4. Advanced analytical expertise appropriate to research methodology (Capability 2)
  5. Expertise in communicating research findings to academic communities (Capability 4)


Assessment Type Percentage Classification
Research Proposal 20% Individual Coursework
Research Showcase 20% Group Coursework
Research Report 60% Individual Coursework
Assessment Type Learning Outcome Addressed
1 2 3 4 5
Research Proposal
Research Showcase
Research Report


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. 

Key Topics

Students' research projects must be supervised by one of the instructors, and must align with one of the following Topic Groups.
  1. Rivers [Instructor: Jon Tunnicliffe]
  2. Air Quality [Instructor: Jenny Salmond]
  3. Oceanography [Instructor: Melissa Bowen]
  4. Coastal [Instructors: Mark Dickson and Murray Ford]
  5. GIScience [Instructor: Katarzyna ‘Sila’ Sila-Nowicka]
  6. Civic Ecologies and Community Mobilisation [Instructor: Brad Coombes]
  7. Disaster Studies [Instructor: JC Gaillard]
  8. Environmental Policy [Instructor: Karen Fisher]
  9. Food and Environment [Instructor: Emma Sharp]
  10. Island Geographies  [Instructor: Tara Coleman]
  11. Natural and Cultural Heritage [Instructor: Gretel Boswijk]
  12. Politics, Economies and Place [Instructors: Tom Baker and Nick Lewis]
  13. Urban Auckland Issues [Instructor: Larry Murphy]
More details on these topics may be found online:

Special Requirements

There will be a range of optional field trips associated with specific research groups (and topics) - see above. Most field trips will be held during the mid-semester break. Field trips will occur off campus and may be outside of standard hours.
From week 2 onward, small group meetings will be held in the scheduled Tutorial sessions. Details for these will be arranged by your group supervisor. 

Workload Expectations

This course is a standard 15 point course and students are expected to spend on average 10 hours per week on the course. For this course, you can expect 26 hours of scheduled class time; including 4 hours in the introductory 'lecture' classes in weeks 1 and 2, plus 22 hours of group meetings (tutorials). We anticipate around 94 hours of independent reading and thinking in relation to the assignments, and around 30 hours of fieldwork/data collection. Please note that these are reasonable estimates but your actual time commitment will depend upon many factors, including your choice of topic and advice of your supervisor.

Delivery Mode

Campus Experience

Attendance is expected at scheduled activities including the 2 lectures and the tutorials. The lectures will be recorded but the Tutorials will not, and so students should contact their group supervisor if they are unable to attend Tutorials or other activities.
Other learning activities will be specific to each student's Group/Topic and may include field trips.

Special advice for Offshore students

This course is available online to students resident offshore although successful completion of the course will require regular communication with the topic supervisor. Please contact the Course Coordinator, David Hayward ( if you are an offshore student.

Learning Resources

You will be primarily responsible for identifying references that are specific to your individual research project. Guidance will be provided by your research supervisor.

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.

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.

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.


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

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.

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 your assessment is fair, and not compromised. Some adjustments may need to be made in emergencies. You will be kept fully informed by your course co-ordinator, and if disruption occurs you should refer to the University Website for information about how to proceed.

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 your assessment is fair, and not compromised. Some adjustments may need to be made in emergencies. You will be kept fully informed by your course co-ordinator, and if disruption occurs you should refer to the University Website for information about how to proceed.

Level 1: Delivered normally as specified in delivery mode
Level 2: You will not be required to attend in person. All teaching and assessment will have a remote option.
Level 3 / 4: All teaching activities and assessments are delivered remotely.

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 23/06/2021 04:16 p.m.