University Of Canterbury Geology

Aotearoa New Zealand, on the active margin of the Pacific with its volcanoes, earthquakes, dramatic geomorphology, and 500 million years of geological history, is one of the best places on Earth to study geological processes. Our position in mid-southern latitudes and relative proximity to Antarctica means that Aotearoa New Zealand is a key location for climate change research.

Geologists are directly involved in the monitoring, prediction, and assessment of hazards such as volcanoes, earthquakes, landslides, and tsunamis. The geologist has an important role in land planning processes and in assessing environmental impact.

Geologists have developed one of the most exciting scientific theories of the 20th century – plate tectonics – which explains the origin and locations of all the major geological features and Earth building processes of the planet. Geologists also search for the natural resources that sustain our technological society, not least of all, water. The construction of buildings, bridges, roads, dams, and reservoirs requires geological expertise.


UC offers a major and a minor in Geology as part of the Bachelor of Science.

You can also study this subject as a minor within the Bachelor of ArtsBachelor of CommerceBachelor of Sport Coaching, and Bachelor of Youth and Community Leadership.

Geology major

To complete a major in Geology within the Bachelor of Science, you will need to take the following courses throughout the degree:


  • GEOL 111 Planet Earth: An Introduction to Geology
  • GEOL 113 Geohazards or GEOL 115 The Dynamic Earth System


  • Three 200-level GEOL courses

GEOL 240 Field Studies A – Mapping and GEOL 241 Field Studies B – Field Techniques are recommended. These are field studies courses in which students learn the techniques of geological observation, data collection, and field mapping. Excursions are run to several different locations, including to Kawatiri Westport on Te Tai Poutini the West Coast of Te Waipounamu the South Island, where there is a modern, well-equipped field station.


  • Four 300-level GEOL courses

GEOL 351 Advanced Field Techniques or GEOL 352 Advanced Field Mappingare recommended.

Students interested in postgraduate studies in Geology will also need to take four 100-level courses from Astronomy, Biological Sciences, Chemistry, Computer Science, Geography, Mathematics, Physics, or Statistics.

Geology minor

For the Geology minor in the Bachelor of ScienceBachelor of ArtsBachelor of CommerceBachelor of Sport Coaching, or Bachelor of Youth and Community Leadership, you will need to take these courses throughout your chosen degree:

  • 75 points in 100 to 300-level GEOL courses, with at least 45 points at 200-level or above

Career opportunities

A career in Geology offers a very wide spectrum of work environments and employment opportunities.

Geology graduates find positions as research scientists, policy analysts, exploration geophysicists, mining and exploration geologists, practitioner engineering geologist with consultancies, natural hazard analysts and consultants, coal and petroleum geologists, teachers, GIS specialists, environmental impact officers and consultants, hydro-geologists, seismic interpreters, resource advisors, research technicians, soil technicians and research assistants, museum curators, and more.

They are employed in the mining and petroleum industries, national and local government, planning and conservation organisations, university teaching and research, secondary teaching, museums and science centres, energy companies, consulting and engineering firms, research institutes, and exploration firms.

Why study Geology at UC?

  • Te Kura Aronukurangi | School of Earth and Environment at UC is one of the top geoscience research departments in the country and, not surprisingly, we are leading the world in our studies of earthquakes. First-year students have their own laboratory for practical classes and teaching staff are readily contactable.
  • Field sciences are a distinctive feature of the subjects offered at UC and are supported through a range of field facilities at Cass and Kawatiri Westport. Field studies are carried out in the locations and environments around these field stations.
  • UC is ranked in the top 150 universities in the world for Earth and Marine Sciences (QS World University Rankings by Subject, 2020).

Contact us

School of Earth and Environment | Te Kura Aronukurangi

Phone +64 3 369 0655 
Email [email protected]

See the School’s website for up-to-date location details.

Postal address 
College of Science | Te Rāngai Pūtaiao
University of Canterbury | Te Whare Wānanga o Waitaha 
Private Bag 4800 
Christchurch 8140 
New Zealand