• Class Number 3734
  • Term Code 3030
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • Prof Phil Cummins
    • Prof Phil Cummins
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 24/02/2020
  • Class End Date 05/06/2020
  • Census Date 08/05/2020
  • Last Date to Enrol 02/03/2020
SELT Survey Results

This course combines state-of-the-art knowledge from geology, geophysics, geochemistry and other fields of earth sciences to understand the natural processes that have hazardous impacts on society. This course focusses on soil hazards, landslides, earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, floods, tropical cylcones, severe weather, bushfires and coastal hazards. Further, the impact of climate change on these hazards is discussed.

Lectures in this course are designed as an introduction to the topic and provide students with the scientific principles that underpin each of the major natural hazards. Practicals and one-day field trips (free of charge) are used to illustrate and discuss aspects of each hazard and train hazard and risk assessment practice. Discussion sessions focus on recent scientific findings published in peer-reviewed journals and will train critical reading, thinking and analytical skills.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

  1. Analyse and explain the temporal and spatial distribution of the most devastating natural hazards throughout the world
  2. Identify the most effective measures to monitor and mitigate these hazards
  3. Design, undertake and communicate a basic hazard evaluation and risk assessment

Field Trips

Week 3: Australian Tsunami Warning System (Geoscience Australia)

Week 7: Rural Fire Service 

Week 12: DFAT Australian Aid

Additional Course Costs


Required Resources

Laptop capable of running Quantum GIS

Keller and Devecchio, Natural Hazards: Earth Processes as Hazards, Disasters and Catastrophes, 4th edition. Earleir editions are available on short-term load from the library, but it is recommended that the student purchase this more recent edition.

Staff Feedback

Students will be given feedback in the following forms in this course:

  • written comments
  • verbal comments
  • feedback to whole class, groups, individuals, focus group etc

Student Feedback

ANU is committed to the demonstration of educational excellence and regularly seeks feedback from students. Students are encouraged to offer feedback directly to their Course Convener or through their College and Course representatives (if applicable). The feedback given in these surveys is anonymous and provides the Colleges, University Education Committee and Academic Board with opportunities to recognise excellent teaching, and opportunities for improvement. The Surveys and Evaluation website provides more information on student surveys at ANU and reports on the feedback provided on ANU courses.

Other Information

Adjustments to delivery in 2020

Course delivery and assessment in 2020 was adjusted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Any information below that replaces what was published in the Class Summary for Semester 1, 2020 was approved by the Associate Dean Education (as is required after 10% commencement of a course). Where an activity or assessment is not referenced below, it remains unchanged.

Teaching Activities

  • Lectures were recorded and posted on Wattle.
  • Tutorials and Quiz reviews were done on Zoom.
  • Practicals were done on Zoom.
  • Field trips were cancelled.


Adjustments were made to assignment due dates; for details see the course Wattle site.

  • Paper presentation was done on Zoom.
  • Assessment values were proportionally scaled to compensate for the 10% loss of the Field Trip participation.

Class Schedule

Week/Session Summary of Activities Assessment
1 Week 1 Organisational Meeting Natural Hazards Intro
2 Week 2 K&D Chap 1 Earth Structure K&D Chap 2 Plate Tectonics Practical: QGIS Intro QGIS result from practical
3 Week 3 Canberra Day Holiday (Monday) K&D Chap 3 Earthquakes 1 Practical: QGIS Practice 1 Chaps 1 & 2 online quizzes QGIS result from practical
4 Week 4 K&D Chap 3 Earthquakes 2 K&D Chap 4 Tsunamis 1 Australian Tsunami Warning Centre field trip
5 Week 5 K&D Chap 4 Tsunamis 2 K&D Chap 5 Volcanoes 1 Quiz review Chap 3 online quiz
6 Week 6 K&D Chap 5 Volcanoes 2 Guest Lecture: Volcanoes Practical: Earthquake Hazard Chap 4 online quiz Hazard result from practical
7 Week 7 Easter Monday Holiday K&D Chap 6 Flood 1 Rural Fire Service field trip Chap 5 online quiz
8 Week 8 Paper Presentations 1 Paper Presentations 2 Paper Presentations 3 Presentation Assessment
9 Week 9 K&D Chap 7 Mass Wasting K&D Chap 8 Soil Hazards Quiz Review Chap 6 online quiz
10 Week 10 Chap 10 Cyclones Guest Lecture: Cyclones Practical: Tsunami Hazard Chaps 7 & 8 online Quizzes Hazard result from practical
11 Week 11 Chap 11 Coastal Hazards Guest Lecture: Coastal Hazards Final Paper Discussion/Quiz Review Chap 10 online quiz
12 Week 12 K&D Chap 13: Bushfire Hazard DFAT Australian Aid field trip Quiz Review Chap 11 Online Quiz
13 Exam period Final paper due Chap 13 online quiz Final paper assessment

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Return of assessment Learning Outcomes
Chapter Quizzes (35%) 35 % 06/03/2020 12/06/2020 1,2,3
Paper Presentation (15%) 15 % 01/05/2020 15/05/2020 1,2
Final Paper (30%) 30 % 05/06/2020 19/06/2020 1,2
Field trip participation (10%) 10 % 24/02/2020 29/05/2020 1,2,3
Practical participation (10%) 10 % 24/02/2020 29/05/2020 1,2,3

* If the Due Date and Return of Assessment date are blank, see the Assessment Tab for specific Assessment Task details


ANU has educational policies, procedures and guidelines, which are designed to ensure that staff and students are aware of the University’s academic standards, and implement them. Students are expected to have read the Academic Misconduct Rule before the commencement of their course. Other key policies and guidelines include:

Assessment Requirements

The ANU is using Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the Academic Integrity . In rare cases where online submission using Turnitin software is not technically possible; or where not using Turnitin software has been justified by the Course Convener and approved by the Associate Dean (Education) on the basis of the teaching model being employed; students shall submit assessment online via ‘Wattle’ outside of Turnitin, or failing that in hard copy, or through a combination of submission methods as approved by the Associate Dean (Education). The submission method is detailed below.

Moderation of Assessment

Marks that are allocated during Semester are to be considered provisional until formalised by the College examiners meeting at the end of each Semester. If appropriate, some moderation of marks might be applied prior to final results being released.


Where an assignment is formed of a number of activities, the date range indicates the due date for the first component and the return date of the final component. Further information is provided in the assessment section of the class summary, and details are provided on the course wattle site.


Other than the chapter quizzes there is no examination given in this class.

Assessment Task 1

Value: 35 %
Due Date: 06/03/2020
Return of Assessment: 12/06/2020
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3

Chapter Quizzes (35%)

Online Wattle-based quizzes for each chapter of the Keller and Devecchio textbook is covered in lectures. Must be finished 1 week after the final lecture on the relevant chapter.

The date range for these tasks indicates the due date for the first quiz and the approximate return date for the last quiz. There are 9 quizzes due over the semester. It is intended that the marked quizzes will be returned within 1 week after submission. Further details can be found on the Course Wattle site.

Assessment Task 2

Value: 15 %
Due Date: 01/05/2020
Return of Assessment: 15/05/2020
Learning Outcomes: 1,2

Paper Presentation (15%)

Students must read a natural hazards-related paper from the scientific literature, and give a 15 min oral presentation summarising, analysing and critiquing the paper content.

Assessment Task 3

Value: 30 %
Due Date: 05/06/2020
Return of Assessment: 19/06/2020
Learning Outcomes: 1,2

Final Paper (30%)

A 2000-3000 word essay on the hazard profile of a particular country or region. Other topics may be approved at the discretion of the convener. The student will be expected to read several papers from the scientific literature and provide written analysis and critique of the material contained therein. The student should provide independent analysis of e.g., how well the country/region is prepared for future disasters, what more research needs to be done, etc. 

Assessment Task 4

Value: 10 %
Due Date: 24/02/2020
Return of Assessment: 29/05/2020
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3

Field trip participation (10%)

The student must not only be present for the field trip, but should participate in some form, by e.g. asking at least one question during the tour.

Students are expected to contribute on an on-going basis throughout the semester. The date range for this task comprises the start of the semester and the last day of the teaching period.

Assessment Task 5

Value: 10 %
Due Date: 24/02/2020
Return of Assessment: 29/05/2020
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3

Practical participation (10%)

Practicals generally involve the use of software run on a laptop - for example, Quantum GIS. Students can use their own laptops or use one provided by the department. At the end of the practical session the student should will have produced a figure (e.g. a map with hazard information) they can submit demonstrating their participation in the practical.

Students are expected to contribute on an on-going basis throughout the semester. The date range for this task comprises the start of the semester and the last day of the teaching period.

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is a core part of the ANU culture as a community of scholars. At its heart, academic integrity is about behaving ethically, committing to honest and responsible scholarly practice and upholding these values with respect and fairness.

The ANU commits to assisting all members of our community to understand how to engage in academic work in ways that are consistent with, and actively support academic integrity. The ANU expects staff and students to be familiar with the academic integrity principle and Academic Misconduct Rule, uphold high standards of academic integrity and act ethically and honestly, to ensure the quality and value of the qualification that you will graduate with.

The Academic Misconduct Rule is in place to promote academic integrity and manage academic misconduct. Very minor breaches of the academic integrity principle may result in a reduction of marks of up to 10% of the total marks available for the assessment. The ANU offers a number of online and in person services to assist students with their assignments, examinations, and other learning activities. Visit the Academic Skills website for more information about academic integrity, your responsibilities and for assistance with your assignments, writing skills and study.

Online Submission

You will be required to electronically sign a declaration as part of the submission of your assignment. Please keep a copy of the assignment for your records. Unless an exemption has been approved by the Associate Dean (Education) submission must be through Turnitin.

Hardcopy Submission

For some forms of assessment (hand written assignments, art works, laboratory notes, etc.) hard copy submission is appropriate when approved by the Associate Dean (Education). Hard copy submissions must utilise the Assignment Cover Sheet. Please keep a copy of tasks completed for your records.

Late Submission

Late submission permitted. Late submission of assessment tasks without an extension are penalised at the rate of 5% of the possible marks available per working day or part thereof. Late submission of assessment tasks is not accepted after 10 working days after the due date, or on or after the date specified in the course outline for the return of the assessment item. Late submission is not accepted for take-home examinations.

Referencing Requirements

Accepted academic practice for referencing sources that you use in presentations can be found via the links on the Wattle site, under the file named “ANU and College Policies, Program Information, Student Support Services and Assessment”. Alternatively, you can seek help through the Students Learning Development website.

Returning Assignments

Assignments will be returned via email

Extensions and Penalties

Extensions and late submission of assessment pieces are covered by the Student Assessment (Coursework) Policy and Procedure. Extensions may be granted for assessment pieces that are not examinations or take-home examinations. If you need an extension, you must request an extension in writing on or before the due date. If you have documented and appropriate medical evidence that demonstrates you were not able to request an extension on or before the due date, you may be able to request it after the due date.

Resubmission of Assignments

Resubmission is not permitted.

Privacy Notice

The ANU has made a number of third party, online, databases available for students to use. Use of each online database is conditional on student end users first agreeing to the database licensor’s terms of service and/or privacy policy. Students should read these carefully. In some cases student end users will be required to register an account with the database licensor and submit personal information, including their: first name; last name; ANU email address; and other information.
In cases where student end users are asked to submit ‘content’ to a database, such as an assignment or short answers, the database licensor may only use the student’s ‘content’ in accordance with the terms of service – including any (copyright) licence the student grants to the database licensor. Any personal information or content a student submits may be stored by the licensor, potentially offshore, and will be used to process the database service in accordance with the licensors terms of service and/or privacy policy.
If any student chooses not to agree to the database licensor’s terms of service or privacy policy, the student will not be able to access and use the database. In these circumstances students should contact their lecturer to enquire about alternative arrangements that are available.

Distribution of grades policy

Academic Quality Assurance Committee monitors the performance of students, including attrition, further study and employment rates and grade distribution, and College reports on quality assurance processes for assessment activities, including alignment with national and international disciplinary and interdisciplinary standards, as well as qualification type learning outcomes.

Since first semester 1994, ANU uses a grading scale for all courses. This grading scale is used by all academic areas of the University.

Support for students

The University offers students support through several different services. You may contact the services listed below directly or seek advice from your Course Convener, Student Administrators, or your College and Course representatives (if applicable).

Prof Phil Cummins

Research Interests

Subduction zone earthquakes and tsunami generation. Physics of megathrust rupture, modelling

and analysis of seismic and tsunami waveforms.

Earthquake and tsunami source physics. Kinematic source inversion, rapid source characterisa- tion and early warning.

Earthquake and tsunami hazard and risk. Historical earthquakes and tsunami, probabilistic haz- ard analysis, building fragility and seismic risk.

Earthquake structure & ground motion. Estimation of sedimentary basin structure and its effects on amplification and resonance of seismic waves. 

Prof Phil Cummins

Thursday 10:00 11:00
Thursday 10:00 11:00
Prof Phil Cummins

Research Interests

Prof Phil Cummins

Thursday 10:00 11:00
Thursday 10:00 11:00

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