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SURV322 Hydrographic Surveying

An introduction to the hydrographic industry, hydrographic specifications, position fixing, datums, tides, instrumentation, data capture, sounding reduction, and plotting.

This introduction to hydrography is designed to provide a broad overview of the many facets of hydrographic surveying. Student time is split between lectures, fieldwork in small boats on Otago Harbour and processing and analysis time spent in the computer laboratory. By the end of the paper students are required to be able to produce a professional report and 'field sheet' and to support their work with an organised body of original survey data.

This paper can be taken as a standalone elective in a land surveying degree, providing the skills necessary to assist in a simple harbour or river survey. It can also be part of a more extensive programme concentrating on hydrographic surveying.

This paper is offered in odd-years (2023, 2025, etc.)

Paper title Hydrographic Surveying
Paper code SURV322
Subject Surveying
EFTS 0.1334
Points 18 points
Teaching period Semester 1 (On campus)
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $1,173.39
International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.

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(SURV 201 and SURV 202) or (SURV 211 and SURV 212)
Schedule C
Enrolments for this paper are limited and require departmental permission.
View more information about limitations of enrolment.
Teaching staff

Co-ordinator and Lecturer: Emily Tidey
Practical and Lab Support: Emily Tidey and Craig Tidey

Paper Structure
The paper covers the following:
  • Positioning and datums
  • Tides, oceanography and sampling
  • Hydrographic equipment: acoustics and singlebeam echo sounders
  • Hydrographic operations: charting - acquisition, processing, accuracy, quality control and reporting
  • Other hydrographic equipment: sidescan sonar, multibeam echo sounders, LiDAR, ROV and AUV
  • Other hydrographic operations: ports and coastal zone, offshore industrial surveys
Teaching Arrangements

Lectures: Three 1-hour lectures per week

Labs: Six during the semester

Practicals: Six during semester

Blackboard Use: Information and links will be provided on Blackboard as required.

Terms: Hydrographic surveying skills are acquired through practice, which complements the theory gained in lectures and readings. Therefore, students must have attended all of the practical or lab sessions and have submitted all of the assignments to gain terms.

Internal Assessment: 70%, made of theoretical assignments, practicals and practical reports and a mid-semester test.

Exam: 30%, 2 hours



  • IHO S-44 - Standards for Hydrographic Surveys
  • LINZ HYSPEC - Contract Specifications for Hydrographic Surveys

Highly recommended:

  • IHO Manual of Hydrography
  • MNZ - Good Practice Guidelines for Hydrographic Surveys in New Zealand Ports and Harbours

All available to download online.

Other texts are available in the Science and School of Surveying Libraries and online.

Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Global perspective, Interdisciplinary perspective, Communication, Environmental literacy, Information literacy, Self-motivation, Teamwork.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes

The goals of the paper are to:

  • Familiarise yourself with international/national hydrographic practice and context, in particular for the field of nautical charting
  • Gain an awareness of other fields of hydrographic surveying, including seismic operations, offshore construction, port management and coastal engineering, environmental, archaeology, inland waters and military
  • Understand the basics of tidal theory
  • Understand the concepts of vertical and horizontal datums used in hydrography
  • Understand the use of hydrographic equipment (including calibration and operation) such as: sextant, singlebeam and multibeam echo sounders, sidescan sonar, tide gauge, DGNSS, RTK GNSS, bottom samplers and hydrographic processing software
  • Develop practical hydrographic surveying and seafaring skills, including manoeuvring a small boat
  • Undertake simple singlebeam hydrographic surveys and to present the results in a standard professional format
  • Develop an introductory understanding of the measurement tasks in hydrography, with particular attention to accuracy and error management in planning and reporting

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Semester 1

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system


Stream Days Times Weeks
A1 Wednesday 08:00-08:50 9-13, 16-22
Thursday 08:00-08:50 9-14, 16-22
Friday 09:00-09:50 9-13, 16-22


Stream Days Times Weeks
A1 Friday 10:00-16:50 9-13, 16-22