GEOG311-23S1 (C) Semester One 2023

Coastal Studies

15 points

Start Date: Monday, 20 February 2023
End Date: Sunday, 25 June 2023
Withdrawal Dates
Last Day to withdraw from this course:
  • Without financial penalty (full fee refund): Sunday, 5 March 2023
  • Without academic penalty (including no fee refund): Sunday, 14 May 2023


This course explores the processes that form and change coastal environments in New Zealand, the Pacific and worldwide. Topics examined include a selection of: sea level change today and into the future, waves and currents, the role of sediments in how beaches work to protect land and interact with oceans, plus sessions focussed on the wonders and practical realities of wetlands, tropical reefs, and human interactions with coastal environments. You will gain an understanding of models of the coastal zone, as well as an experience of field methods and laboratory techniques used in coastal investigations. The course was developed based on direct industry feedback and involvement. There is also an optional one-day field-trip, where there is an opportunity to put your learnings into practice and measure waves, currents and beach profiles, and to collect sediment and ecological data for analysis in labs, all using up-to-date professional techniques.

This course is a coastal starting point for people wanting to work in the fields of environmental science, resource and hazard management and environmental engineering, as well as for anyone with a passionate interest in coasts. People with a wide variety of backgrounds, skills and perspectives are appreciated.

UC has a vision of tangata tū, tangata ora - people prepared to make a difference. This vision is taken seriously in this coastal studies programme, so be ready to work on assessment topics of direct interest and use to coastal residents, researchers and managers in New Zealand and beyond. Through lectures, labs, fieldwork and assessments, GEOG311 explores the processes responsible for change in, and how to interpret, coastal environments and the development of coastal forms in New Zealand, the Pacific and worldwide. Topics examined include a selection of: waves, currents, sea levels, sediments, different types of beach, coastal hydrosystems, and human-coast interactions.

Students gain an understanding of conceptual and computational models of the coastal zone, along with an introduction to key field and laboratory techniques used in coastal zone investigation. As the course explores both the processes operating in different coastal environments and coastal management themes, there has been industry involvement in developing the course, including from ECAN, CCC and NIWA.

GEOG311 aims:
• to inspire you to want to understand and learn more about coastal environments,
• to provide a forum to share knowledge, experience and perspectives from different coastal sub-disciplines (that means you sharing, not just staff!),
• to provide opportunities to understand the coast as a biophysical system,
• to develop abilities in the application of coastal process principles for the analysis and interpretation of physical coastal environments and human issues relating to them, and
• to explore with you introductory coastal knowledge and skills relevant to the career streams of environmental science and consultancy, and coastal planning and management.

Learning Outcomes

  • Upon successful completion of GEOG311, you should gain:
  • understanding of the coast as a complex, biophysical system,
  • awareness of human impacts on various coastal environments and vice versa,
  • experience in analysing, interpreting and solving complex environment problems, and
  • experience in conducting research and written presentation to international scientific standards.
    • University Graduate Attributes

      This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attributes specified below:

      Critically competent in a core academic discipline of their award

      Students know and can critically evaluate and, where applicable, apply this knowledge to topics/issues within their majoring subject.

      Employable, innovative and enterprising

      Students will develop key skills and attributes sought by employers that can be used in a range of applications.

      Biculturally competent and confident

      Students will be aware of and understand the nature of biculturalism in Aotearoa New Zealand, and its relevance to their area of study and/or their degree.

      Globally aware

      Students will comprehend the influence of global conditions on their discipline and will be competent in engaging with global and multi-cultural contexts.


30 points of 200-level Geography, including GEOG201, or
in special cases with approval of the Head of Department.

Timetable Note

• one 2-hour lecture per term week,
• two 2-hour laboratories in Term 1,
• a 1 day optional fieldtrip on the third Friday of Term 1.

Course Coordinator

Martin Single


Assessment Due Date Percentage  Description
Best 4 of 5 Learn Quizzes 40% One every 2-3 weeks (see Learn for precise due dates).
Poster assignment research report 60% Due towards the end of Term 2 (see Learn for precise due date).

Textbooks / Resources

Recommended Reading

Komar, Paul D; Beach processes and sedimentation ; 2nd ed; Prentice Hall, 1998 (A fantastic text, well suited to the more technically (mathematical, engineering, COSC) minded).

Masselink, Gerhard. , Hughes, Michael G., Knight, Jasper; Introduction to coastal processes & geomorphology ; 2nd ed; Hodder Education, 2011 (A good first basic coastal text).

Woodroffe, C. D; Coasts : form, process, and evolution ; Cambridge University Press, 2003 (Like an encyclopaedia of all things coastal, with great coastal environment coverage (including GEOL and BIOL)).

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (2002) Coastal Engineering Manual (CEM). Engineer Manual 1110-2-1100, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Washington D.C. (6 volumes).
A free electronic text with an engineering slant. Everyone should download their own copy of this from online and engineers might like it as their first choice (although I’ll be encouraging you to broaden your perspective too). It covers: Part II - Coastal Hydrodynamics; Part III – Coastal Sediment Processes; Part IV – Coastal Geology; Part V - Coastal Project Planning and Design; Part VI - Design of Coastal Projects; and Appendix A - Glossary of Coastal Terminology.)

Readings of chapters from various textbooks will be posted on Learn in conjunction with selected lectures, so there is no need to purchase one textbook. If, on the other hand, you prefer to have your own individual textbook always to hand, you might consider one of these options (also available on loan from the library).


30 points of 200-level Geography, including GEOG201, or in special cases with approval of the Head of Department.


Recommended preparation:
GEOG311 welcomes email applications to the course coordinator from students with a wide range of backgrounds, including those with a track record of academic success in physical or other types of geography, sedimentology, physics, civil engineering, marine ecology, and environmental law, amongst other areas.

Indicative Fees

Domestic fee $916.00

International fee $4,750.00

* All fees are inclusive of NZ GST or any equivalent overseas tax, and do not include any programme level discount or additional course-related expenses.

For further information see School of Earth and Environment .

All GEOG311 Occurrences

  • GEOG311-23S1 (C) Semester One 2023