GEOG409-23S1 (C) Semester One 2023

Coasts and Rivers: from Natural Processes to Urban Environments

30 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 coastal and fluvial geomorphic processes and how they interact with urban environments. Understanding these processes is essential for effective resource and environmental management, as well as for building resilient settlements. Core topics will include river and coastal geomorphology; hydrology and hydrodynamics; flooding from coastal, fluvial and pluvial sources; catchment processes; river mouth environments; sea level rise; theoretical and numerical modelling; human use of coasts and rivers; and laboratory and research methods in coastal and river science. Examples will be drawn from New Zealand, the Pacific, and worldwide.

By actively participating in this course, you will gain critical and applied skills relevant to professions in coastal, river and environmental science, management and engineering amongst other areas. The course  GEOG409 takes a dual research and applied focus, exposing students to cutting edge research and its practical, every-day applications. We examine waterways and coasts from several different perspectives, including those that underpin the main lecturers’ research approaches:

• hazards and multi-hazards,
• multi-disciplinary and multi-environment studies,
• environmental and Earth Systems science,
• geomorphology, ecology, hydrology,
• coastal and river links to engineered systems,
• environmental management, consulting and, within the coastal and river spheres, ideas around ‘expert opinion’, ‘bought science’ and professional ethics.

Core topics vary each year in response to lecturer expertise, class interest, invited professional guests and their case studies (from councils and consultancies), and current events. Previous foci have included coastal hydrosystems, sea level rise assessment, catchment and coastal sediment systems, integrated catchment management, harbours, theoretical and numerical modelling, shoreline evolution, beach and river management, artificial and urban rivers and coasts. Case studies are typically drawn from New Zealand and worldwide.

Upon successful completion of GEOG409, for the coastal and river environments explored, you will be able to critically evaluate and synthesise scientific and environmental management frameworks, to formulate opinions and key questions about the current and likely-future effects of human-use of physical systems and how to measure and monitor these, and you will be comfortable exploring a diversity of solutions to environmental management challenges.

Learning Outcomes

  • The learning outcomes for this course are both knowledge-oriented and skill-oriented. By successfully completing GEOG409, you will:
  • be able to describe and analyse the complexity of fluvial and coastal systems,
  • be able to evaluate theories about current and future human impacts on these environments and vice versa,
  • have awareness of, and your own opinions about, the scope and limitations of current institutional management frameworks for these environments in New Zealand and elsewhere,
  • gain experience in analysing, interpreting and solving complex environmental research and management problems, and
  • gain experience in conducting and presenting research to international 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.

      Engaged with the community

      Students will have observed and understood a culture within a community by reflecting on their own performance and experiences within that community.

      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.


Entry subject to approval of the Head of Department.



Timetable Note

Contact time in GEOG409 is structured around one 3-hour seminar per term-time week, including in-seminar lecture, groupwork, lab work and fieldwork across different weeks.


Matthew Wilson


Assessment Due Date Percentage 
Individual Literature Review 30%
Group Proposal 20%
Group Video Presentation 20%
Individual Article 30%

Assessment is spread over both terms, has a mix of individual and group work, and requires you to start learning from the first week. Formal course assessment is as follows:
• 30% individual literature review;
• 20% group proposal;
• 20% group video presentation; and
• 30% individual article.

Textbooks / Resources

Preparatory individual and team readings from papers, reports and chapters will be posted on Learn in conjunction with each seminar, so there is no need to purchase any textbook. Becoming comfortable with finding, reading, and evaluating coastal and river science literature is an important component of GEOG409.


Entry subject to approval of the Head of Department.


Indicative Fees

Domestic fee $2,159.00

* 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 GEOG409 Occurrences

  • GEOG409-23S1 (C) Semester One 2023