GEOG109-19S1 (C) Semester One 2019

Physical Geography: Earth, Ocean, Atmosphere

15 points

Start Date: Monday, 18 February 2019
End Date: Sunday, 23 June 2019
Withdrawal Dates
Last Day to withdraw from this course:
  • Without financial penalty (full fee refund): Friday, 1 March 2019
  • Without academic penalty (including no fee refund): Friday, 10 May 2019


This course covers environmental process theory as well as the technical skills needed to monitor and model environmental change. We examine the forces that control Earth systems, with case studies of three main sub-systems: the atmosphere and climate, the oceans and their coastal fringes, and high-energy terrestrial landscapes such as mountains. The course will deepen understanding of these subsystems as a framework for building science-informed environmental approaches.

As residents of our dynamic planet Earth, we are surrounded by environmental ‘puzzles’. For example, in 2014 Christchurch experienced a cluster of three extreme flood events, exacerbated by earthquake effects – yet the Canterbury Earthquake Sequence did not alter our climate.
More globablly, in 2012, the Arctic ice sheet reached its lowest-ever recorded summer extent, while, at the same time, the winter Antarctic sea ice broke its maximum extent record. The key to understanding such apparently contradictory phenomena, and the implications for us comes through knowledge of their geographies: their scales, locations, and interactive roles in our planetary biophysical systems. GEOG109 aims to arm students with the kinds of critical thinking and questioning skills needed to study the Earth’s surface and to unlock the workings of, including its icy, watery, rocky, and atmospheric and icy spheres

Global planetary change is a reality we have to face, but what are the forces driving such massive dynamics and how do we monitor and keep an eye on our planet? Via physical geography, one of the two major subfields of geography. Physical geographers study the relationships among natural systems and their interdependence through space and time. They conduct fieldwork to collect data, access immense digital datasets, and resort to mathematical and statistical techniques to shed light on the workings of the physical environment.

GEOG109 is taught by a team of three enthusiastic physical geographers whose overlapping interests span the atmosphere, cryosphere, biosphere and high energy elements of the planetary surface such a volcanoes, rivers, coasts and oceans. In addition to lectures on these topics, course laboratory classes provide opportunities to explore the practical tools and techniques employed by 21st Century geographers, including how the application of analytical tools to vast digital datasets can help unlock the nature of the forces that shape our world. This course also takes students through a series of exercises and experiences designed specifically with future employability in mind, to start building a professional resume of skills and knowledge.

Learning Outcomes

The goal of this course is to enable students to understand the Earth as an integrated multi-component system driven by a continuous supply of external and internal energy. Students will be able to explain how interactions within the Earth system control climate on Earth and apply this knowledge to explain the current state and evolution of Earth’s environment and its interaction with anthroposphere.

In successfully completing GEOG109, you will have an introductory understanding of a selection of the methods used in Earth surveillance (such as remote sensing) and will be able to critically evaluate information on present global environmental changes and the effect of natural variability versus anthropogenic forcing.You will also have begun to build your own individual professional resume, outlining the employable skills and knowledge gained over the course of lectures, labs and assessment exercises.

Course Coordinator

Deirdre Hart


Peyman Zawar-Reza and Seb Pitman

Indicative Fees

Domestic fee $850.00

International fee $4,000.00

* 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.

Minimum enrolments

This course will not be offered if fewer than 50 people apply to enrol.

For further information see School of Earth and Environment on the departments and faculties page .

All GEOG109 Occurrences

  • GEOG109-19S1 (C) Semester One 2019