GEOG 748 : Current Issues in Coastal Management


2020 Semester Two (1205) (15 POINTS)

Course Prescription

Critical consideration of contemporary issues in coastal management. Topics may include: competition for coastal space and resources; vulnerability of coastal communities to climatic variability; scientific uncertainty in the decision making process; understanding the legacies of past planning decisions. Case studies are used to explore complexities of the physical and social dimensions of coastal management approaches within the context of current regulatory frameworks.

Course Overview

This course critically explores the physical, social and policy dimensions of coastal management. The coast is the most dynamic landform on earth and global population densities are significantly higher in coastal areas than in non-coastal areas. This combination of dynamic human and physical landscapes, together with uncertainties around future changes in sea level, climate, and socio-economic conditions, poses unique management challenges. The course recognises that the nature of coastal environments is a function of physical coastal dynamics, the history of human occupation and utilisation of the coast, and governmental decision making. The continued development pressures and competition for coastal space and resources require locally relevant, informed and implementable management responses. We discuss shifts in management approaches in the coastal environment and consider the relevance of participatory approaches in achieving informed local outcomes. National and international examples are used, from both developed and developing countries, to highlight key coastal management issues. We explore the advantages and disadvantages of a range of coastal hazard adaptation approaches, from engineered coastal management options to retreating from the coastal margin.
A major theme in this course is awareness of the lack of rigorous research that has been undertaken to identify/explore the physical, social and economic vulnerability of the New Zealand coast. As a coastal nation, New Zealand’s population, major infrastructure and economic activities are located at the coast. Paradoxically, New Zealand has devoted little effort to establish its vulnerability to natural coastal hazards (sea-level change, storms, flooding and erosion), nor assessed the wider impacts of this vulnerability on society. This lack of effort in New Zealand has also been mirrored internationally. Over the next century, sea-level rise, climatic variability and increasing human occupation and exploitation of the coast (and associated uncertainty) will accelerate coastal change and increase the vulnerability of coastal communities. This represents a profound challenge for coastal communities and managers.
The skills developed in this course are particularly useful for those wishing to have a career involving any aspect of environmental management or coastal/marine science. 

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. Explain the shifts in policy and management frameworks within which decision-making about coastal management occurs (Capability 1, 2, 3 and 5)
  2. Be able to critically explore the meaning and perceptions of vulnerability in the context of coastal settlements (Capability 1, 2 and 6)
  3. Demonstrate ability to evaluate how risk varies spatially as a consequence of physical and social processes and governmental decision-making (Capability 1, 2 and 6)
  4. Demonstrate an understanding of the suite of approaches to managing coastal hazard risk and critically consider the variable impacts of these approaches (Capability 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6)


Assessment Type Percentage Classification
Assignments 50% Individual Coursework
Final Exam 50% Individual Examination
Assessment Type Learning Outcome Addressed
1 2 3 4
Final Exam


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

  • Coastal management
  • Managing tensions in the coastal space
  • Coastal management in practice
  • Hazard, risk and vulnerability
  • Coastal hazard risk management in NZ and the Pacific 
  • Managing retreat from the coastal margin
  • Soft and hard engineering responses to coastal hazard

Learning Resources

Reading material relevant to each lecture can be found on Canvas and it is expected that students will read and understand this additional material.
Copies of the lecture slides will be made available on Canvas.

Special Requirements

  • A half-day field trip to Orewa Beach accompanies this course. Attendance on the field trip is expected to maximise the benefit from the course. Please get in touch with the course co-ordinator if you cannot attend.  

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 20 hours of lectures, a 2 hour tutorial, 5 hours on a field trip, and 123 hours of reading and thinking about the content and working on assignments.

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.

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 09/08/2020 12:13 p.m.