GEOG311-24S1 (C) Semester One 2024

Coastal Studies

15 points

Start Date: Monday, 19 February 2024
End Date: Sunday, 23 June 2024
Withdrawal Dates
Last Day to withdraw from this course:
  • Without financial penalty (full fee refund): Sunday, 3 March 2024
  • Without academic penalty (including no fee refund): Sunday, 12 May 2024


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.

GEOG311 builds on fundamental knowledge gained from first and second year geography papers and explores the dynamic physical processes that help shape the variety of features observable along coastlines around the world. In this course, lecture topics covered will provide a comprehensive examination into the functioning and importance of coastal systems. They will include the movement and energy of waves and currents, the role of sediment transport pathways and sediment budgets, the links with other intrinsic earth systems (particularly the fluvial and climate system), anthropogenic interactions and coastline modifications, and the future of coastlines with intensified climate change. The course will draw on a wide literature base of current and peer-reviewed research that students will engage with critically, exemplar scenario data through the lab program, and an introduction to field work in coastal settings. Students who engage fully with the course will gain skills in independent critical thinking, an ability to work through complex problems, sustained theoretical and practical writing, practice in modelling and the use of models in the coastal sphere, and familiarity with equipment used in coastal settings.

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 2024

Students must attend one activity from each section.

Lecture A
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Thursday 09:00 - 11:00 Rehua 009
19 Feb - 31 Mar
29 Apr - 2 Jun
Computer Lab A
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Monday 11:00 - 12:30 Ernest Rutherford 164 Geog/Geol Lab
11 Mar - 24 Mar
02 Monday 13:00 - 14:30 Ernest Rutherford 164 Geog/Geol Lab
11 Mar - 24 Mar
Optional A (Optional)
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Saturday 09:00 - 17:00 New Brighton Beach
4 Mar - 10 Mar

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

For further information see School of Earth and Environment Head of Department

Course Coordinator: Sophie Horton, School of Earth & Environment,


Assessment Due Date Percentage  Description
Online quizzes (5) 10% Due dates to be advised
Essay 25% Due 6pm, Thursday of Week 6
Research Project 25% Due 6pm, Thursday of Week 11
FInal Exam 40%

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).


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

Indicative Fees

Domestic fee $942.00

International fee $4,988.00

* 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

  • GEOG311-24S1 (C) Semester One 2024