GEOG 745 : Applied Fluvial Geomorphology


2020 Semester One (1203) (15 POINTS)

Course Prescription

Catchment-scale perspectives are used to analyse spatial and temporal variability in river forms and processes. River responses to disturbance are placed in a longer-term evolutionary context. Prospective river futures are appraised using field analyses and numerical modelling applications. These principles and techniques are used to discuss management options. No formal prerequisite but final year undergraduate experience in a related field required.

Course Overview

This elective course fits directly into programmes in Geography, Earth Sciences and Environmental Sciences. Materials covered are complementary to other programmes. The course is designed to appeal to a wide range of postgraduate students. It provides an overview of key principles that support river management applications. Geomorphic understandings of landscapes provide an integrative scientific template to inform management of river health (ecosystem functionality), flow/sediment regimes, turbidity (water quality), riparian vegetation and other concerns, with direct implications for a host of on-the-ground, planning and policy applications. Effective approaches to catchment-scale description of river forms, processes and patterns are used to model and quantitatively predict prospective river futures, thereby providing key insights for practice river management. The course is practically-based (hands-on), linking theoretical, remotely sensed and field understandings of river systems. Through a series of lectures, practical classes, presentations and discussion sessions, along with the field trip, this course provides a guided approach to independent learning and critical enquiry relating to advanced-level understanding of river systems. Principles are framed, and the course is taught, in context of distinctly situated approaches to river science and management in Aotearoa New Zealand.

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
Capability 5: Independence and Integrity
Capability 6: Social and Environmental Responsibilities

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be able to:
  1. Generate a working knowledge of the River Styles framework, recognizing how sustainable approaches to river management work with the inherent diversity of river character, behaviour and evolution at the catchment (landscape) scale (Capability 1 and 2)
  2. Critically review literature-based understandings of geomorphic principles as a basis to inform management applications, demonstrating how principles from geomorphology provide an integrating physical template with which to analyse biophysical interactions in river systems (Capability 1, 2 and 5)
  3. Work collaboratively to generate catchment-scale understanding of the geomorphology of a river system in Aotearoa New Zealand, using data derived from remotely sensed, field derived and modelled data (Capability 1 and 2)
  4. Develop field interpretative skills (reading the landscape), linking such understandings with new and emerging field techniques and modelling applications (hardware and software), relating remotely sensed and field understandings of river systems to theoretical (literature-based) analyses (Capability 1, 2, 3 and 4)
  5. Predict river futures for a study catchment based upon collective learnings generated through the course (Capability 2, 3, 4 and 6)
  6. Apply course learnings to specific river management problems (Capability 3, 4 and 6)


Assessment Type Percentage Classification
Essay 30% Individual Coursework
Presentation 20% Group & Individual Coursework
Project 50% Individual Coursework
Assessment Type Learning Outcome Addressed
1 2 3 4 5 6

Learning Resources

Course materials build directly on the two following books:

Brierley, G. J., & Fryirs, K. A. (2013). Geomorphology and river management: applications of the river styles framework. John Wiley & Sons.

Fryirs, K. A., & Brierley, G. J. (2012). Geomorphic analysis of river systems: an approach to reading the landscape. John Wiley & Sons.

Special Requirements

There is a compulsory field trip for this course, completed in the mid-semester break.

Workload Expectations

Following University workload guidelines, this 15 point course represents approximately 150 hours of study. As much of the course builds on a compulsory field trip, workload requirements are NOT spaced evenly through the semester. Lectures and practical exercises support completion of the essay and remotely sensed work prior to the field trip. The final report includes a modelling exercise completed following the field trip. In weeks 1-6 (prior to the field trip) this entail approximately 12 hours per week, the field trip itself is around 40 hours long,  leaving roughly 38 hours for the field trip report (submitted in week 10). There is NO FINAL EXAMINATION for this course.

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

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.

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.

GEOG 745 students like the hands-on, practice basis of this course, integrating different forms of information to address practical problems. The balance of individual and team tasks accommodates a wide range of backgrounds, working together to develop and apply geomorphic understandings to address management issues.

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.

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