GEOPHYS 213 : The Geophysical Environment


2020 Semester Two (1205) (15 POINTS)

Course Prescription

This course explores the physical principles governing – and the connections between – the Earth’s atmosphere, oceans and interior. Topics include the structure of the solid earth, ocean currents and tides, and fundamental aspects of weather and climate.

Course Overview

This course introduces and provides a historical perspective of the physical insights into our earth, oceans and atmosphere.
Special attention is placed on making the connections between the three components of the geophysical environment.
We aim to introduce students to the notion that the processes associated with these three components are coupled, and the underlying mathematical methods are often shared.
• 3 sessions/week including lectures, tutorials, and in-class tests (3 in the semester).
• 3 labs (about 4 hours in two sessions) in the semester.

Course Requirements

Prerequisite: 15 points from PHYSICS 120, 121, 150, 160, and either 15 points from ENGSCI 111, MATHS 108, 150, 153, or MATHS 120 and 130 Restriction: PHYSICS 213

Capabilities Developed in this Course

Capability 1: Disciplinary Knowledge and Practice
Capability 3: Solution Seeking
Graduate Profile: Bachelor of Science

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be able to:
  1. Understand he physical processes that create our geophysical environments of earth, oceans and atmosphere (Capability 1)
  2. Analyse geophysical observations with simple plotting software (Capability 1)
  3. Develop and demonstrate an understanding of the methods used to explain geophysical phenomena (Capability 3)


Assessment Type Percentage Classification
Quizzes 5% Individual Coursework
Assignments 9% Individual Coursework
Laboratories 21% Group & Individual Coursework
Test 15% Individual Coursework
Final Exam 50% Individual Coursework
Assessment Type Learning Outcome Addressed
1 2 3
Final Exam

Learning Resources

Course book:
• Alvarez “T-rex and the Crater of Doom” Princeton University Press

Suggested reading:
• The Earth System by Kump, Kasting and Crane. Pearson
• Hewitt and Jackson’s “Atmospheric science for environmental studies” Wiley- Blackwell
• Andrews’ “An introduction to atmospheric physics” Wiley - Blackwell
• Lowrie’s “Fundamentals of Geophysics” Cambridge University Press
• RH Stewart’s “Introduction to Physical Oceanography” Free online

Special Requirements

Not Applicable

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 27 hours of lectures, 6 hours of tutorials, 3 hours of in-class tests, 18 hours of labs and lab-report writing, 18 hours reading and thinking about the content, 12 hours of work on assignments and 36 hours of test preparation.

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 11/01/2020 03:02 p.m.