ENVSC505-21A (NET)

Environmental Systems: Biogeosciences across Scales

15 Points

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Division of Health Engineering Computing & Science
School of Science
Environmental Science


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: cheryl.ward@waikato.ac.nz

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  • Calling +64 7 838 4466 select option 1, then enter the extension.
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Paper Description

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This paper is designed to provide umbrella coverage of seminal concepts in environmental science at a post-graduate level. Understanding of these concepts allows students with Bachelors degrees in Earth Sciences, Biology or Chemistry to feel confident in overall understanding of Environmental Science as a discipline. Coverage is designed to interface with other 500 level offerings in ENVSC and related disciplines. Topics include the ecosystem concept as applied to mass and energy, and scales from microbial to global. Also included is the role of different estimological methods: science has different ways of investigating problems that are tractable with experiments (in field such as ecology or physiology) versus larger scales where historical and systems sciences (such as the earth sciences) debate and test ideas. Focus will be placed on catchments, interfaces, and dynamic systems required for application to environmental management.

This paper provides understanding of system science and scaling concepts that build on 300-level curriculum from other sciences, and will couple to other 500-level offers with limited but useful overlap that allows students to learn from each other in the seminar. For the latter, specific examples include ENVSC503 Land-Atmosphere Exchange, BIOEB505 Coastal and Estuarine Ecology, ENVSC501 Evaluation of Environmental Change, and BIOEB504 Freshwater Ecology.

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Paper Structure

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This is a seminar course where student-led discussion and presentations will be guided by introductory or short lectures. Students will make oral presentations of peer-reviewed literature either provided in class or that they have found. Learning will be re-enforced through a project requiring analysis and submission of an explanatory report.
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Learning Outcomes

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Students who successfully complete the paper should be able to:

  • Describe and apply the following concepts.
    1. Describe the ecosystem concept, applied to mass and energy, across scales ranging from soil pores to planet Earth, using fundamental process classifications of additions, removals, transfers and transformations.
    2. Compare different ways of understanding the state and functioning of environmental systems at different scales, from experimental, historical and system sciences, and how these are used to understand impacts of human activity as well as the mitigation of these impacts.
    3. Relate management to zones of interest including catchments, subcatchments and mountains-to-the-sea approaches.
    4. Quantify transfers and transformations at critical interfaces such as estuaries and coasts, sediment-water and land-atmosphere.
    5. Critically evaluate concepts of tipping points, reslience, environmental limits and planetary boundaries.
    Linked to the following assessments:
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Assessment Components

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The internal assessment/exam ratio (as stated in the University Calendar) is 100:0. There is no final exam. The final exam makes up 0% of the overall mark.

The internal assessment/exam ratio (as stated in the University Calendar) is 100:0 or 0:0, whichever is more favourable for the student. The final exam makes up either 0% or 0% of the overall mark.

Component DescriptionDue Date TimePercentage of overall markSubmission MethodCompulsory
1. Seminar presentation - individual component
  • In Class: In Lecture
2. Seminar presentation - team component
  • In Class: In Lecture
3. Seminar - calculations, practical summaries, briefs or blogs
  • Online: Moodle Forum Discussion
4. Project - quantification at catchment or interface
  • Online: Submit through Moodle
Assessment Total:     100    
Failing to complete a compulsory assessment component of a paper will result in an IC grade
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Required and Recommended Readings

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Required Readings

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These will be provided during the course
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Online Support

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Online support will be provided via Moodle, which is accessible to all students who are enrolled in the paper.

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24-36 contact hours and 150 total learning hours.
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