• Class Number 3180
  • Term Code 3230
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • Prof Phil Cummins
    • Prof Phil Cummins
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 21/02/2022
  • Class End Date 27/05/2022
  • Census Date 31/03/2022
  • Last Date to Enrol 28/02/2022
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 5: Australian Tsunami Warning System (Geoscience Australia)

Week 8: Bushfire (either Rural Fire Service or Geoscience Australia) 

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.

Recommended student system requirements 

ANU courses commonly use a number of online resources and activities including:

  • video material, similar to YouTube, for lectures and other instruction
  • two-way video conferencing for interactive learning
  • email and other messaging tools for communication
  • interactive web apps for formative and collaborative activities
  • print and photo/scan for handwritten work
  • home-based assessment.

To fully participate in ANU learning, students need:

  • A computer or laptop. Mobile devices may work well but in some situations a computer/laptop may be more appropriate.
  • Webcam
  • Speakers and a microphone (e.g. headset)
  • Reliable, stable internet connection. Broadband recommended. If using a mobile network or wi-fi then check performance is adequate.
  • Suitable location with minimal interruptions and adequate privacy for classes and assessments.
  • Printing, and photo/scanning equipment

For more information please see https://www.anu.edu.au/students/systems/recommended-student-system-requirements

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.

Class Schedule

Week/Session Summary of Activities Assessment
1 Week 1 Organisational Meeting & Natural Hazards Intro K&D Chap 1 Earth Structure Chap 1 online Quiz
2 Week 2 K&D Chap 2 Plate Tectonics K&D Chap 3 Earthquakes 1 EM-DAT Practical Chaps 2 online Quiz Practical Result EM-DAT
3 Week 3 K&D Chap 3 Earthquakes 2 K&D Chap 4 Tsunamis 1 QGIS intro Chap 3 online Quiz Practical Result QGIS Intro
4 Week 4 Canberra Day K&D Chap 4 Tsunamis 2 QGIS Practical Chap 4 online Quiz Practical Result QGIS Exercise
5 Week 5 K&D Chap 5 Volcanoes K&D Chap 5 Volcanoes (Guest Lecture) ATWS Field Trip Chap 5 online Quiz
6 Week 6 K&D Chap 6 Flood K&D Chap 7 Mass Wasting Quiz Review Chap 6 online Quiz Practical Result
7 Week 7 Easter Monday Paper Presentations 1 Paper Presentations 2 Chap 7 online Quiz Paper Presentation Assessment
8 Week 8 ANZAC Day Holiday K&D Chap 8 Soils Bushfire Field Trip Chap 8 online Quiz Practical Result
9 Week 9 K&D Chap 9 Atmosphere K&D Chap 9 Severe Weather Final Paper Preparation Session Chap 9 online Quiz
10 Week 10 K&D Chapter 10 Cyclones K&D Chap 10 Cyclone (Guest lecture) Earthquake Practical 1 Chap 10 online Quiz Practical Result Earthquake 1
11 Week 11 K&D Chap 11 Coastal Hazards K&D Chap 12 Climate Change Earthquake Practical 2 Chaps 11 & 12 online Quizzes Practical Result Earthquake 2
12 Week 12 K&D Chap 13 Bushfire K&D Chap 13 Bushfire (Guest Lecture) Quiz Review Chap 13 online quiz
13 Exam period Final paper due Final paper assessment

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Return of assessment Learning Outcomes
Chapter Quizzes 30 % * * 1,2,3
Paper Presentation 15 % 19/04/2022 29/04/2022 1,2
Final Paper 30 % 10/06/2022 19/06/2022 1,2
Field trip participation 10 % * * 1,2,3
Practical participation 15 % * * 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: 30 %
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3

Chapter Quizzes

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 13 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: 19/04/2022
Return of Assessment: 29/04/2022
Learning Outcomes: 1,2

Paper Presentation

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: 10/06/2022
Return of Assessment: 19/06/2022
Learning Outcomes: 1,2

Final Paper

A 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 %
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3

Field trip participation

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.

Field trips are optional. If you don't want to participate in the field trips, all of the other assessments weights will be increased by 10/9 (i.e., pro-rata)

Assessment Task 5

Value: 15 %
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3

Practical participation

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

Noting the implications of Policy: Student assessment (coursework) Item 7


No submission of assessment tasks without an extension after the due date will be permitted. If an assessment task is not submitted by the due date, a mark of 0 will be awarded.


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.


If both statements are valid and apply to different assignments, clarify which policy to which assignment.


2020 statement:  

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

By Appointment
By Appointment
Prof Phil Cummins

Research Interests

Prof Phil Cummins

By Appointment
By Appointment

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