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Coastal Processes

Examine the processes and factors that control coastal landforms, resources and hazards, evaluate human effects, and identify and assess options to avoid or mitigate adverse impacts.

Coastal Processes is available as a minor.

Coastal Processes

Coastal Processes involves identifying and evaluating processes and factors that contribute to the formation and evolution of coastal landforms, which allows for the prediction of future coastal responses to changing climate and human activities.

A large and growing proportion of the world’s population lives close to the coast, and use it as a resource or for recreation. This is particularly true in New Zealand where almost all of the country is within 100 km of the sea. The coast is also often considered vulnerable to the effects of changing climate and sea levels, natural hazards, and the impacts of human activities.

The University of Waikato is a world-leader in teaching and research of Coastal Processes. This has included undertaking projects around most of the New Zealand coastline, Australia and various islands in the Southwest Pacific Ocean, and the establishment of an international graduate school with the University of Bremen, Germany – INTERCOAST.

Most of the Coastal Processes papers involve field trips, including measuring water properties within Tauranga Harbour and visiting a range of coastal settings to undertake site visits for problem solving exercises based on current coastal issues.

Papers within the minor include a focus on these potential coastal hazards and adopt a problem solving approach to evaluate different options for reducing risk, and include identifying the effects of human activities and evaluation of approaches that can be used to avoid or mitigate adverse impacts.


The University of Waikato’s Coastal Marine Field Station, based in Tauranga, has become a major centre of marine research excellence, and is also a base for field activities.

Field experience includes the use of a variety of oceanographic and geophysical equipment to obtain measurements of estuaries and beaches.

Build a successful career

This minor would be beneficial for students looking for careers dealing with coastal resources (eg. fisheries), infrastructure (ports, beaches, sub-divisions), or management.  Students with a minor in Coastal Processes currently tend to be employed with regulatory authorities, consulting companies, and research institutions.

Past graduates have gone on to international careers in diverse sectors such as mining, engineering and environmental consulting firms, regulatory agencies, and agencies of the United Nations and non-governmental organisations.

Apply to enrol

Key information

Study Location:Hamilton
Area of Study:

Career opportunities

  • Coastal Hazards Scientist
  • Environmental Scientist
  • Coastal Geologist
  • Coastal Oceanographer
  • Marine Policy Specialist
  • Coastal Planning Specialist

100 Level

Code Paper Title Points Occurrence / Location
EARTH101Introduction to Earth System Sciences - Pūtaiao Pūnaha Whenua15.024A (Hamilton) & 24A (Tauranga)
A lecture and laboratory paper that explores the interacting processes that affect the surface of the Earth, producing landforms and resources, with a focus on physical processes. Topics covered include coastal processes and hazards; climate change; weathering; erosion and mass movement; soil formation; the hydrological cycle; rive...

200 Level

Code Paper Title Points Occurrence / Location
EARTH241Oceanography15.024B (Hamilton) & 24B (Tauranga)
This paper introduces students to the broad scale properties, issues, and research importance of the global ocean via the main disciplines of oceanography: particularly biological, chemical, geological and physical oceanography

300 Level

Code Paper Title Points Occurrence / Location
EARTH341Coastal Oceanography15.024A (Hamilton) & 24A (Tauranga)
This paper focuses on the physical oceanography of the coastal zone. Topics include estuarine circulation, wind driven currents on the shelf, longwaves, resonance, seiching, methodologies for quantifying processes and coastal responses, waves and surfzone processes.

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School of Science
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