Faculty of Science - Leading creativity and innovation in the sciences

Undergraduate major in Earth Sciences

Subject description

The Earth Sciences major explores the processes that have shaped Earth, from its deepest interior to its surface, and into neighbouring space. It investigates the complexity and interactions of Earth’s systems, and addresses the impact of natural processes on society, and vice versa. Knowledge of Earth Science is important for, understanding how natural resources are formed, better stewardship of our environment and natural hazard risk management. Courses in the Earth Sciences programme explore such issues as Earth’s origin and evolution, plate tectonics, past life and climate environments, and the dynamic nature of earth surface and sub surface forms and processes and their interaction with the atmosphere, hydrosphere, cryosphere and biosphere. Earth Science also tackles issues of resource identification and use, encompassing mining, oil and gas exploration, and alternative energy.

The School of Environment’s undergraduate Earth Sciences programme integrates Physical Geography and Geology, providing an opportunity to explore and understand, as well as develop skills in, a broad range of Earth surface and subsurface systems and processes.

The programme will equip you with an understanding of the complexity, interactions and relevance of earth sciences to the society you live and work in. The curriculum reflects trends in contributing disciplines and is relevant to today's strategic conversations and pressing global, regional and local issues, while preparing you for postgraduate study and the workforce.

When studying a BSc in Earth Sciences you will learn, among other things, about:

  • Earth surface forms and processes and their interaction including climate, water, terrestrial and biological systems
  • How to interpret the geologic record as evidence of past events and environments
  • How resources (coal, metallic, gas, thermal waters, etc.) form, where they occur, and how they are located and utilised
  • The consequences of and perspectives around human interactions with the physical environment
  • The range of qualitative and quantitative analytical methods available to solve problems in the Earth Science
  • The role and importance of modelling in contemporary Earth science

Postgraduate options

Graduates of the BSc in Earth Sciences can go on to postgraduate study in Geology, Applied Geology, Geography, Environmental Science and Environmental Management. The School of Environment offers a wide variety of relevant courses at postgraduate level, covering a diverse range of subject matter including, but not limited to, volcanology, geothermal energy, paleo-climates and -environmental change, coastal dynamics, fluvial geomorphology, climatology, natural hazards, applied geophysics and the various rock and mineral forming processes. Study at postgraduate level requires significant student commitment and a high degree of self motivation.



Bachelor of Science (BSc) - Earth Sciences major

Single or first major must include:

Second major must include:

Plan your degree with our Earth Sciences planner.


Career opportunities

The scientific study of our earth is more important now than ever. A large, increasing world population is demanding more energy, food and minerals from the planet. Urbanisation and population pressure are making huge demands for buildings, infrastructure and water.

Trained Earth Scientists find employment locally and internationally, working for environmental consultancies, geological and exploration companies, engineering companies, territorial local authorities or the central gouvernment.

Areas of work will include: geological surveys and mapping, geochemical and geophysical exploration, petroleum and natural gas location and assessment, coal field development, rock and mineral resources survey, mineral processing and mining, assessing natural hazards (volcanoes, earthquakes), environmental impact audits, engineering site investigations, land stability studies, oceanography and education.


Help and advice

For further information, refer to the Earth Sciences Undergraduate Handbook, or contact:

Barry O’Connor
Room 429B, Building 301
Phone: +64 9 373 7599 ext 88638
Email: b.oconnor@auckland.ac.nz

Nick Richards
Room 439, Building 302
Phone: +64 9 373 7599 ext 85286
Email: n.richards@auckland.ac.nz

Alternatively, Earth Sciences staff in the School of Environment, located on Level 6 of Building 302 (23 Symonds Street), can help you with general enquiries and refer you on to the relevant academic advisers. Their opening hours are 8.30am - 5pm.

Phone: +64 9 373 7599 ext 87413 or 87410
Web: www.env.auckland.ac.nz


Further information