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GEOG285 Southern Landscapes

N9: Winter School

Course Coordinator: Professor Michelle Thompson-Fawcett

Course Description

This course reviews the development of landscapes in the South Island of New Zealand. In the paper you will be introduced to the geological and structural development of the Southern Alps, the key drivers of landscape development, the impact of people on the environment and the current state of the environment. The emphasis throughout the paper will be on understanding the temporal and spatial dimensions of change and developing an ability to read landscapes and understand the causes and consequences of environmental change.

Course Objectives

This paper is organised to achieve three objectives:

  1. understand the interaction between tectonic and surface processes in driving landscape development in the Southern Alps;
  2. understand the impact of environmental changes on the landscale of the Southern Alps over a range of temporal and spatial scales;
  3. understand the implications of future environmental changes and explore the concept of environmental features.

Course Outline

Week 1: Lectures
Geological development of New Zealand
Tectonic uplift of the Southern Alps
Interactions between uplift and climate
Processes of alpine erosion
Week 1: Laboratory
Uplift and erosion in time and space

Week 2: Lectures
Glaciation and the physical landscape
Glaciation and the biological landscape
Current drivers of landscape change: floods and earthquakes
Environmental hazards

Week 2: Laboratory
Reading landscape development from aerial photography and satellite imagery


Week 3: Lectures
The arrival of people 1: Polynesian settlement
The arrival of people 2: European settlement
The agricultural economy of the Waitaki Valley
Environmental futures

Week 3: Laboratory
Mapping cultural change


End of Week 3 Field School:
Three-day field school focussed on reviewing the evidence of landscape change spanning geological to human time scales.

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A review of the development of landscapes in the South Island of New Zealand.

This paper introduces students to the geography of the southern South Island of New Zealand. It explores the interaction of physical processes and human activities, past and present, to understand the character and dynamics of regional landscape formation, and to identify possible future trends in environmental and landscape change in the future.

Paper title Southern Landscapes
Paper code GEOG285
Subject Geography
EFTS 0.1000
Points 12 points
Teaching period International School (1 June 2018 - 31 August 2018)
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $692.30
International Tuition Fees (NZD) $2,995.20

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Schedule C
Arts and Music, Science
(i) This paper is available only to international students. (ii) Every student must have previously passed 36 points (or the equivalent at an overseas institution). (iii) The commencement date for this paper is 1 June (students will not necessarily be in New Zealand but must complete prescribed preparatory reading before the commencement of formal classes on 27 June). (iv) All work must be submitted for assessment no later than 31 August.
Teaching staff
Co-ordinator: Associate Professor Michelle Thompson-Fawcett
Learning Outcomes
Throughout the course, there is an emphasis on understanding the temporal and spatial dimensions of change and developing an ability to read landscapes and understand the causes and consequences of environmental change.
Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Interdisciplinary perspective, Lifelong learning, Communication, Teamwork.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Paper Structure
Lecture topics will cover physical and biological processes from mountain building and erosion, to climate, soils and ecosystems; the arrival of Polynesian and European peoples; the transformation of land through resource development, settlements, agriculture and other activities; with an emphasis on the Central Otago region.
Text books are not required for this paper
Teaching Arrangements
Field Details:Students will explore the diverse landscapes of Central Otago, and examine some of the key drivers of current landscape form, both natural and human related, and examine contemporary factors that have produced significant changes in recent years. There will also be a programme of practical work on campus, in which various methods and techniques for investigating landscape change will be employed.
Enrolments for this paper require departmental permission. View more information about departmental permission.

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International School (1 June 2018 - 31 August 2018)

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system


Stream Days Times Weeks
P1 Monday 16:00-18:50 26-27


Stream Days Times Weeks
S1 Monday 13:00-14:50 26-27
Tuesday 13:00-14:50 26
Wednesday 13:00-14:50 26
Thursday 13:00-14:50 26
Friday 13:00-14:50 26