Undergraduate study

The School of Earth and Environment offers courses in Antarctica Studies, Environmental Science, Geology, Geography and Water Resource Management at undergraduate level, with Geology, Geography and Environmental Science available as a full degree.

Earth is the only planet we have and sustains all life, we believe understanding how it works and how humans interact with it should be part of everyone's education!

Our undergraduate courses are designed both for students looking to specialise and for those taking a few courses while majoring in other subjects.

BSc in Environmental Science

Environmental Science must be taken as a double major with another Bachelor of Science major. It is an integrative subject that builds on a strong disciplinary base in a major subject such as Biological SciencesChemistryGeographyGeology, or Physics.

  • Of the 360 points needed for the degree, you must complete 120 points of core Environmental Science courses, with the additional points made up of courses from the BSc Schedule and your second BSc major.
  • See all Environmental Science courses

BSc in Geology

Undergraduate courses in Geology are designed both for students majoring in Geology and for students taking a few courses in Geology while majoring in other subjects.

  • Students intending to major in Geology need a minimum of 135 points in Geology, including GEOL 111, and either GEOL 113 or GEOL 115, at least 45 points at 200 level and 60 points at 300 level.
  • See all Geology courses

BSc/BA in Geography

Geography at UC is both a Science and an Arts subject, meaning you can major as either a Bachelor of Science (BSc) or Bachelor of Arts (BA). This gives you the flexibility to create a degree that fits your needs and interests.

  • A student intending to complete the BA with a major in Geography must be credited with at least 135 points in Geography, with at least 105 points at 200-level or above, including at least 30 points of 100-level Geography, at least 30 points of 200-level Geography, and at least 60 points of 300-level Geography.
  • A student intending to complete the BSc with a major in Geography must be credited with at least 30 points of 100-level Geography, 30 points of 200-level Geography and 60 points of 300-level Geography.
  • See all Geography courses

Undergraduate study in Antarctic Studies and Water Resource Management

While you cannot major in Antarctic Studies or Water Resource Management as an undergraduate student, there are a range of courses you can take as part of any degree:

 

Postgraduate study options are available in Geography, GeologyEnvironmental ScienceAntarctic Studies, Water Resource ManagementDisaster Risk and ResilienceEngineering Geology,  Geospatial Science and Technology and Urban Resilience and Renewal.

Students wishing to go on to postgraduate study should check the degree options and requirements via the Postgraduate Study page, and make sure they seek advice about entry requirements early.

Study at the School of Earth and Environment | Te Kura Aronukurangi can lead to a wide range of work environments and a career possibilities.

  • Visit our Careers page to find out more about where your studies could take you

Geology is primarily the study of Planet Earth (and other rocky planets) – the history of events over millions of years, and the processes that shape it through time. Geologists use this understanding to investigate and collaborate on topics like protecting ourselves from geohazards, sustainably managing our Earth’s resources, and large-scale civil engineering projects.

Geology is a practical, experience-based and interdisciplinary subject area that draws on case studies from around the world. As such, we have the highest number of field trips of any major at UC. Geology students come with a variety of backgrounds but key high school subject strengths for geology can include Earth and space science, geography, physics, chemistry, mathematics, statistics, computer science, environmental science and biology.

Guide to Pathways

The pathways outlined here are intended to be used as guides. Not having done every paper in a pathway does not necessarily mean you cannot enter into this area of research or careers! Rather, these pathways have been designed to give you a good idea of what the employment sector is looking for as skill sets and strengths in that particular subset of geology.

As geology is a very interdisciplinary subject area, these pathways are not isolated from each other and there is often significant overlap. Since geology is not often a major part of high school curriculum, many potential students may feel they don’t know the subject well enough to decide which pathway is right for them. The general “Geology and Earth Resources” pathway is a good one to start on as following that one will make sure you have what you need to enter any of the other pathways.

The minimum BSc requirements for a major in geology currently include 45 pts (3 papers) at 200 level, and 60 pts (4 papers) at 300 level. While an undergraduate degree in geology prepares you for a wide range of careers, please note that most careers in geology now require some postgraduate study. Thus, the degree pathways are designed to make pursuing a postgraduate degree in geology straightforward: In order to enter postgrad Geology or Engineering Geology, students must therefore pass a minimum of 90 pts (6 papers, 7 encouraged) at 300 level in the geology major. Note that the Disaster, Risk & Resilience and Environmental Science programmes do not have this restriction. For future flexibility and prerequisites, students are strongly encouraged therefore to take all 6 geology papers on offer at 200 level. Care must be taken if a student intends on dropping any of the 6 papers, so seeking course advice is strongly recommended.

Choose this theme if you are interested in topics such as:

The processes driving landscape evolution and geohazards on a tectonically active planet.

The New Zealand plate boundary is one of the most active and dynamic plate boundaries in the world. This pathway focuses on the study of the processes resulting in earthquakes, volcanoes, mountain building, and erosion, as well as the geological record of these events. Earthquake geologists integrate field work with quantitative 'tools of the trade' to answer questions regarding the deformation of the Earth as a result of plate tectonics. Volcanologists study the processes related to volcanic eruptions, and utilise field and remotely sensed data, and laboratory and numerical models to learn more about volcanoes. As an earthquake or volcanic geologist, you will learn about a wide range of geohazards and their scientific underpinnings. This is an exciting pathway built for the critical thinker with a passion for field work and understanding dynamic landscapes.

Career Paths

Geology graduates specialising in Tectonic Geology or Volcanology are prepared for a broad range of careers in the Earth sciences. They may go on to teaching or research, to geotechnical or geohazards consulting (either in industry or government appointments), or to exploration geology. They may also work in mining, resource and/or engineering, or geothermal geology (with volcanology), and will have a sound foundation for GIS-based technical positions.

Student Profiles

Christian Rüegg
Regine Morgenstern
Sam Davidson

Pathway Brochure

Volcanoes, Earthquakes & Geohazards (PDF)

100 level courses

  • GEOL 111 Planet Earth: An Introduction to Geology (S1 or SU)
  • GEOL 113 GeoHazards (S2)
  • SCIE 101 Science, Society and Me (S2)
  • COSC 121 Introduction to Computer Programming (S1 or S2)

Also Recommended:

You may also like:

  • ENGL 117 Writing for Academic Success (S1, S2 or SU)
  • PHYS 111 Introductory Physics for Physical Sciences and Engineering (S1)
  • SCIM 101 Science, Māori and Indigenous Knowledge (S2)

200 level courses

  • GEOL 240 Field Studies A - Mapping (S1)
  • GEOL 241 Field Studies B - Field Techniques (S2)
  • GEOL 242 Rocks, Minerals and Ores (S1)
  • GEOL 243 Depositional Environments and Stratigraphy (S1)
  • GEOL 244 Structural Geology and Global Geophysics (S2)
  • GEOL 246 Earth Surface Dynamics (S2)

Also Recommended:

  • MATH 270 Mathematical Modelling and Computation 2 (S2)

You may also like:

  • GEOG 205 Introduction to Geographic Information Systems (S1)
  • GEOG 206 Resource and Environmental Management (S2)
  • GEOG 208 Remote Sensing for Geospatial Analysis (S2)

300 level courses

  • GEOL 331 Principles of Basin Analysis (S2) or GEOL 357 Topics in New Zealand Geology (S2)
  • GEOL 336 Magmatic Systems and Volcanology (S2)
  • GEOL 337 Geothermal and Ore Exploration (S1)
  • GEOL 351 Advanced Field Techniques (S1) [2]
  • GEOL 352 Advanced Field Mapping (X) [2]
  • GEOL 354 Geodynamics and Geohazards (S1)

Also Recommended:

  • GEOL 338 Engineering and Mining Geology (S2)

Recommended at 400 level for this pathway

  • GEOL 476 Physical Volcanology (X)
  • GEOL 479 Active Tectonics and Geomorphology (S1)
  • DRRE 402 Natural Hazard Risk Assessment (S1)
  • DRRE 408 GIS for Disaster Risk and Resilience (S2)

Notes

  1. Do these if you wish to do MATH 270
  2. GEOL 351 and GEOL 352 along with another 60 points at GEOL 300 level is required for postgraduate study in GEOL. 7 papers are strongly recommended.

Choose this theme if you are interested in topics such as:

Earth's history and processes with an emphasis on rocks, and the processes that form them. You intend to do postgraduate Geology.

Geology is the study of Earth's history and processes with an emphasis on rocks, and the processes that form them, as the key data. Geology combines study of prehistory and modern processes and ranges from academic ideas about how and why things happen to the practical application of theory to solve problems. Sedimentary rocks form from burial of sediments and provide useful resources such as petroleum and coal - but also clays, silica for glass, and groundwater. An understanding of sedimentary processes also informs mapping of hazards such as flooding. The geologic history of events like climate change is recorded in sedimentary rocks. Igneous rocks that solidify from a semi-liquid from deep in the Earth bring important economic minerals to the surface such as those needed to create solar panels, batteries, electrical components. The study of igneous processes is also important for mapping out volcanic hazards in the modern settng or for prospecting geothermal energy. Metamorphic rocks form from subjecting pre-existing rocks to high temperatures and pressures, often during mountain building or near subduction zones. These rocks provide minerals necessary for a modern technological culture but also beautiful taonga like pounamu. If you are interested in Earth's processes and history but haven't decided on a specialty (or, find all of them to be interesting), this pathway will keep your options open and allow you the greatest flexibility in your career.

Career Paths

Geology graduates are prepared for a broad range of careers in the Earth Sciences.  These include geotechnical, geohazards, environmental geosciences, geothermal energy, climate change science, exploration geology, mining and petroleum industry, groundwater, geoengineering, government agencies, insurance industry hazard analysis, as well as teaching and research.

Student Profiles

Charles Li
Kaley Boyd
Callum Margetts

Pathway Brochure

Geology and Earth Resources (PDF)

100 level courses

  • GEOL 111 Planet Earth: An Introduction to Geology (S1 or SU)
  • GEOL 113 GeoHazards (S2) and/or GEOL 115 The Dynamic Earth System (S2)
  • SCIE 101 Science, Society and Me (S2)

Also Recommended:

You may also like:

  • ENGL 117 Writing for Academic Success (S1, S2 or SU)
  • PHYS 111 Introductory Physics for Physical Sciences and Engineering (S1)
  • SCIM 101 Science, Māori and Indigenous Knowledge (S2)

200 level courses

  • GEOL 240 Field Studies A - Mapping (S1)
  • GEOL 241 Field Studies B - Field Techniques (S2)
  • GEOL 242 Rocks, Minerals and Ores (S1)
  • GEOL 243 Depositional Environments and Stratigraphy (S1)
  • GEOL 244 Structural Geology and Global Geophysics (S2)
  • GEOL 246 Earth Surface Dynamics (S2)

You may also like:

  • GEOG 205 Introduction to Geographic Information Systems (S1)
  • GEOG 208 Remote Sensing for Geospatial Analysis (S2)

300 level courses

  • GEOL 351 Advanced Field Techniques (S1) [2]
  • GEOL 352 Advanced Field Mapping (X) [2][1]

Also Recommended:

  • GEOL 338 Engineering and Mining Geology (S2)
  • GEOL 331 Principles of Basin Analysis (S2)
  • GEOL 357 Topics in New Zealand Geology (S2)
  • GEOL 336 Magmatic Systems and Volcanology (S2)
  • GEOL 337 Geothermal and Ore Exploration (S1)
  • GEOL 354 Geodynamics and Geohazards (S1)

Some of the courses you qualify for at 400 level via this pathway

  • GEOL 473 Structural Geology (S2)
  • GEOL 474 Igneous Petrology and Geochemistry (S1)
  • GEOL 476 Physical Volcanology (X)[1]
  • GEOL 478 Sedimentary Facies and Basin Analysis (S2)
  • GEOL 479 Active Tectonics and Geomorphology (S1)
  • GEOL 481 Applied Palaeobiology (S1)
  • GEOL 483 Coal and Environmental Geology (S2)
  • DRRE 401 Introduction to Disaster Risk and Resilience (S1)
  • DRRE 402 Natural Hazard Risk Assessment (S1)
  • DRRE 408 GIS for Disaster Risk and Resilience (S2)
  • ENGE 411 Engineering Construction Practice (S2)
  • ENGE 412 Rock Mechanics and Rock Engineering (X)[1]
  • ENGE 413 Soil Mechanics and Soil Engineering (S2)
  • ENGE 414 Applied Hydrogeology (T2)
  • ENGE 417 Foundations of Engineering Geology (T1)

Notes

  1. Courses marked (X), e.g. GEOL 352, are held outside normal term times (including before semesters begin) so please check the schedule in advance!
  2. GEOL 351 and GEOL 352 along with another 60 points at GEOL 300 level is required for postgraduate study in GEOL. 7 papers are strongly recommended.

Choose this theme if you are interested in topics such as:

The study of the fossilised remains of Earth's past animals, plants and bacteria leading to postgraduate study in geology and palaeontology. Note; if you would like to double major in Geology and Biology this will require detailed planning and you should talk to the Science Student Advisor and Earth and Environment course advisors.

Palaeontology is the study of the fossilised remains of Earth's past animals, plants and bacteria. Palaeontologists study anything from dinosaurs, birds, marine invertebrates down to microscopic plants and animals to work out their function, ecology, evolution and extinction - and to tell geological  time through fossils. Palaeontologists use this information to work out when different organisms evolved, who ate who, and how and why some organisms have survived for hundreds of millions of years while others went extinct.  Palaeontology can be applied in petroleum geology studies through biostratigraphy, and used to study past earthquakes through detailed palaeoecological studies tracing past environmental disturbances.  If you like fossils, have attention to detail, and are good at solving abstract problems a career in palaeontology could be for you. 

Career Paths

Geology graduates specialising in Palaeontology are prepared for a range of careers in the Earth sciences. They may go on to teaching or to university and museum-based research or technical positions, Crown Research Institutes (as palaeoecologists or biostratigraphers researching earthquake and tsunami events), or into the petroleum industry as biostratigraphers.

Pathway Brochure

Palaeontology (PDF)

100 level courses

  • GEOL 111 Planet Earth: An Introduction to Geology (S1 or SU)
  • GEOL 115 The Dynamic Earth System (S2)
  • SCIE 101 Science, Society and Me (S2)

Also Recommended:

  • STAT 101 Statistics 1 (S1, S2 or SU)
  • BIOL 112 Ecology, Evolution and Conservation (S2)
  • BIOL 113 Diversity of Life (S1)

You may also like:

  • GEOL 113 GeoHazards (S2)
  • BIOL 111 Cellular Biology and Biochemistry (S1)
  • ENGL 117 Writing for Academic Success (S1, S2 or SU)
  • ANTA 103 Antarctica: Life in the Cold (S2)
  • SCIM 101 Science, Māori and Indigenous Knowledge (S2)

200 level courses

  • GEOL 240 Field Studies A - Mapping (S1)
  • GEOL 241 Field Studies B - Field Techniques (S2)
  • GEOL 242 Rocks, Minerals and Ores (S1)
  • GEOL 243 Depositional Environments and Stratigraphy (S1)
  • GEOL 244 Structural Geology and Global Geophysics (S2)

Also Recommended:

  • BIOL 209 Biological Data Analysis (S1)
  • BIOL 215 Origins and Classifications of Life (S2)

You may also like:

300 level courses

  • GEOL 331 Principles of Basin Analysis (S2)
  • GEOL 351 Advanced Field Techniques (S1) [2]
  • GEOL 352 Advanced Field Mapping (X) [2][1]
  • GEOL 357 Topics in New Zealand Geology (S2)

Also Recommended:

  • GEOL 336 Magmatic Systems and Volcanology (S2)
  • GEOL 354 Geodynamics and Geohazards (S1)
  • BIOL 309 Experimental Design and Data Analysis for Biologists

You may also like:

  • GEOL 337 Geothermal and Ore Exploration (S1)
  • GEOL 338 Engineering and Mining Geology (S2)
  • BIOL 334 Evolutionary Genetics and Genomics (S2)
  • BIOL 371 Evolutionary Ecology (S1)
  • BIOL 384 Marine Ecosystems (S2)

Recommended at 400 level for this pathway

Notes

  1. GEOL 352 is held in mid-February before the start of Semester 1.
  2. GEOL 351 and GEOL 352 along with another 60 points at GEOL 300 level is required for postgraduate study in GEOL. 7 papers are strongly recommended.

Choose this theme if you are interested in topics such as:

Engineering Geology.

Search these terms: ENGINEERING GEOLOGY, HYDROGEOLOGY, ROCK MECHANICS, SOIL
MECHANICS 

Career Paths

Geology graduates specialising in Engineering Geology are prepared for a range of careers in the Earth sciences. 

Student Profiles

Sophie Bainbridge

Jonathan Adam-Muhktar

Stefan Cook

Pathway Brochure

Engineering Geology (PDF)

100 level courses

Strongly Recommended:

  • GEOL 115 The Dynamic Earth System (S2)
  • CHEM 111 Chemical Principles and Processes (S1 or S2)
  • PHYS 101 Engineering Physics A: Mechanics, Waves, Electromagnetism and Thermal Physics (S1 or S2)
  • ENGR 101 Foundations of Engineering (S1)

You may also like:

  • GEOG 106 Global Environmental Change (S2)
  • CHEM 112 Structure and Reactivity in Chemistry and Biochemistry (S2)
  • ENGL 117 Writing for Academic Success (S1, S2 or SU)
  • PHYS 102 Engineering Physics B: Electromagnetism, Modern Physics and 'How Things Work' (S2 or SU)
  • PHYS 111 Introductory Physics for Physical Sciences and Engineering (S1)
  • MATH 102 Mathematics 1A (S1 or S2)
  • EMTH 118 Engineering Mathematics 1A (S1 or S2)
  • EMTH 119 Engineering Mathematics 1B (S2 or SU)
  • ENGR 102 Engineering Mechanics (S2 or SU)
  • COSC 121 Introduction to Computer Programming (S1 or S2)

200 level courses

  • GEOL 240 Field Studies A - Mapping (S1)
  • GEOL 241 Field Studies B - Field Techniques (S2)
  • GEOL 242 Rocks, Minerals and Ores (S1)
  • GEOL 243 Depositional Environments and Stratigraphy (S1)
  • GEOL 244 Structural Geology and Global Geophysics (S2)
  • GEOL 246 Earth Surface Dynamics (S2)

Strongly Recommended:

  • GEOG 205 Introduction to Geographic Information Systems (S1)
  • GEOG 208 Remote Sensing for Geospatial Analysis (S2)

You may also like:

  • GEOG 201 Environmental Processes: Principles and Applications (S1)
  • PHYS 205 Waves, Optics and Mechanics (S1)
  • PACE 295 Internship (A, S1, S2 or SU)

300 level courses

  • GEOL 351 Advanced Field Techniques (S1)[1]
  • GEOL 352 Advanced Field Mapping (X)[1][2]
  • GEOL 338 Engineering and Mining Geology (S2)

Strongly Recommended:

  • GEOL 331 Principles of Basin Analysis (S2)
  • GEOL 337 Geothermal and Ore Exploration (S1)
  • GEOL 354 Geodynamics and Geohazards (S1)

You may also like:

  • GEOL 336 Magmatic Systems and Volcanology (S2)
  • GEOL 357 Topics in New Zealand Geology (S2)
  • GEOG 311 Coastal Studies (S1)
  • GEOG 324 Distributed GIS and Geoinformatics (S1)
  • PACE 395 Internship (A, S1, S2 or SU)
  • WATR 301 Water Resource Management (S1)

Postgraduate PMEG Level Courses

  • DRRE 402 Natural Hazard Risk Assessment (S1)
  • ENGE411 Engineering Construction Practice (X)
  • ENGE412 Rock Mechanics and Rock Engineering (X)
  • ENGE413 Soil Mechanics and Soil Engineering (S2)
  • ENGE414 Applied Hydrogeology (T2)
  • ENGE416 Engineering Geology Synthesis and Project Preparation (X)
  • ENGE417 Foundations of Engineering Geology (T1)
  • ENGE481 Special Topic[3]
  • ENGE482 Special Topic[3]
  • ENGE691 Engineering Geology Project Portfolio (X)

Notes

  1. GEOL 352 is held in mid-February before the start of Semester 1.
  2. GEOL 351 and GEOL 352 along with another 60 points at GEOL 300 level is required for postgraduate study in GEOL. 7 papers are strongly recommended.
  3. At discretion of the PMEG Programme Coordinator

Your course and degree advice contacts

Anna Chapman

Postgraduate Science Advisor
Beatrice Tinsley Rm 114
Internal Phone: 94117

Bengu Korkut Yalcin

Undergraduate Science Advisor
Student Advisor
Beatrice Tinsley Rm 116
Internal Phone: 93858

Kate Pedley

Level Coordinator
100 level
Beatrice Tinsley Rm 223
Internal Phone: 94378

Kari Bassett

Senior Lecturer
200-300 Level Coordinator
Beatrice Tinsley Rm 222
Internal Phone: 94495

Jarg Pettinga

Professor
400-Level Coordinator
Beatrice Tinsley Rm 218
Internal Phone: 94491

Tom Wilson

Programme Coordinator
Disaster Risk and Resilience
Beatrice Tinsley Rm 210
Internal Phone: 94503

Clark Fenton

Programme Coordinator
Engineering Geology
Beatrice Tinsley Rm 220
Internal Phone: 94439

Sally Gaw

Programme Coordinator
Environmental Science
Beatrice Tinsley 318
Internal Phone: 95904

Need more information or advice?

Talk to a Study Coordinator