Not currently offered
Course code



10 units


3000 level

Course handbook


This course is an intensive, 14 day, field-based experience in the Cook Islands. Most lectures and laboratories will take place in the field, to ensure a hands-on learning experience grounded on theory, supported by professional methods and exposure to indigenous knowledge. The course introduces students to continental and marine environments that preserve Earth and human history: carbonate atolls and reefs, carbonate rocks, caves, cave morphologies, cave sediments, embedding catastrophic events, stalagmites and stalactites. The transmission of anthropogenic climate and environmental signals from surface through soil and underground is explored. Students will discover how calcium carbonate formations preserve Earth and human history and how they function as ancient climate and sea-level change archives. They will learn to reconstruct the evolution of a Pacific Island landscape by observation of both surface and underground morphologies. During the field study students will conduct practical measurements used in environmental monitoring and will apply these measurements to understand current threats to vulnerable carbonate environments. They will also learn both indigenous perspectives about land use and how the threat of seal-level rise may be faced by adaptation to climate change.


Not currently offered.

This Course was last offered in Semester 2 - 2019.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of the course students will be able to:

1. Integrate theoretical, analytical and practical learning in the application of field-based problem solving.

2. Operate independently and effectively in a field based environment.

3. Combine the use of analytical techniques, data gathering, notes and illustrative materials to draw rational scientific conclusions.

4. Compile a scientific report based on group and personal contributions derived from field and laboratory exercises.

5. Present scientific findings contextualised within a cultural framework to an audience.


GEOS3260 is conducted in a karst area of the Cook Islands with easily accessible caves and surface landscape, including the modern reefs. The syllabus consists of a 14 day field study, with most lectures and laboratories conducted in the field. On campus, students will be involved in risk assessment, self-learning research, acquisition of scientific writing skills and scientific presentation of research results.Student are highly encouraged to review and action inoculation recommendations for the Cook Islands, prior to departure. Recommendations for the Cook Islands can be found here.

Assumed knowledge

The successful completion of a minimum of 160 units of previous studies. Studies in a related field of science (environmental science, chemistry, geology) is highly desirable. Students will need highly developed independent study habits and writing reports skills, and a basic understanding of OH&S principles and operating procedures.

Assessment items

Presentation: Individual Presentation

Written Assignment: Field Report

The University of Newcastle acknowledges the traditional custodians of the lands within our footprint areas: Awabakal, Darkinjung, Biripai, Worimi, Wonnarua, and Eora Nations. We also pay respect to the wisdom of our Elders past and present.