Earth and Ocean Science

University of Otago

Course Description

  • Course Name

    Earth and Ocean Science

  • Host University

    University of Otago

  • Location

    Dunedin, New Zealand

  • Area of Study

    Field Component, Geography, Geology, Natural Sciences, Oceanography

  • Language Level

    Taught In English

  • Course Level Recommendations


    ISA offers course level recommendations in an effort to facilitate the determination of course levels by credential evaluators.We advice each institution to have their own credentials evaluator make the final decision regrading course levels.

    Hours & Credits

  • Contact Hours

  • Recommended U.S. Semester Credits
    3 - 4
  • Recommended U.S. Quarter Units
    4 - 6
  • Overview

    Evolution of continents and oceans; sea-floor spreading, mountain ranges, plate tectonics; oceanic circulation and global cycles; erosion, landslides and sedimentation on land and sea; marine biological systems; evolution of life through the ages; oceans and climate; the Solar System.

    This multidisciplinary paper commences with an overview of our place on planet Earth, the solar system, and deep space. It then covers a vast number of topics by way of the unifying theme of Earth "spheres": Atmosphere; Geosphere; Hydrosphere; Cryosphere, and; Biosphere. Topics such as climate and atmospheric/oceanic circulation, plate tectonics and associated hazards, weathering and erosion/deposition, past and present life, glaciers and ice sheets, and the impact of humans on the planet are covered. Students will finish the course with a holistic understanding of planet Earth, and a good feel for topics worth pursuing at more advanced levels.

    Course Structure
    This course consists of 4 lectures per week and one 3-hour laboratory. Lectures cover 5 themes:

    • Our place in space: humanity on earth, earth in the universe
    • The geosphere: our dynamic earth
    • Earth's surface: where the geosphere meets the hydrosphere
    • The hydrosphere and the atmosphere: a tightly coupled system
    • The biosphere: life on earth

    Learning Outcomes
    -Understand and describe the processes that shape Earth's surface, interior and oceans
    -Draw connections between the various components of the Earth system
    -Apply concepts introduced in lectures and laboratories to field settings
    -Understand the concept of geologic time in relation to physical and biological systems
    -Understand the physical and biological controls on the distribution of Earth materials and make predictions based on this understanding

Course Disclaimer

Courses and course hours of instruction are subject to change.

Eligibility for courses may be subject to a placement exam and/or pre-requisites.

Some courses may require additional fees.

Credits earned vary according to the policies of the students' home institutions. According to ISA policy and possible visa requirements, students must maintain full-time enrollment status, as determined by their home institutions, for the duration of the program.

Please reference fall and spring course lists as not all courses are taught during both semesters.

Availability of courses is based on enrollment numbers. All students should seek pre-approval for alternate courses in the event of last minute class cancellations

Please note that some courses with locals have recommended prerequisite courses. It is the student's responsibility to consult any recommended prerequisites prior to enrolling in their course.