• Class Number 2818
  • Term Code 3430
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • Prof Phil Cummins
    • Prof Phil Cummins
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 19/02/2024
  • Class End Date 24/05/2024
  • Census Date 05/04/2024
  • Last Date to Enrol 26/02/2024
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

Research-Led Teaching

Course content reflects the convenor's research expertise.

Field Trips

Week 4: Australian Tsunami Warning System (Geoscience Australia)

Week 8: Geoscience Australia

Week 11: Rural Fire Service

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). Feedback can also be provided to Course Conveners and teachers via the Student Experience of Learning & Teaching (SELT) feedback program. SELT surveys are confidential and also provide the Colleges and ANU Executive with opportunities to recognise excellent teaching, and opportunities for improvement.

Class Schedule

Week/Session Summary of Activities Assessment
1 Week 1Organisational Meeting & Natural Hazards IntroK&D Chap 1 Earth StructureEM-DAT Practical Chap 1 online QuizPractical Result EM-DAT
2 Week 2K&D Chap 2 Plate TectonicsK&D Chap 3 Earthquakes 1 QGIS Intro Chap 2 online QuizPractical Result QGIS Intro
3 Week 3K&D Chap 3 Earthquakes 2K&D Chap 4 Tsunamis 1QGIS Exercise Chap 3 online QuizPractical Result QGIS Exercise
4 Week 4Canberra DayK&D Chap 4 Tsunamis 2ATWS Field Trip Chap 4 online Quiz
5 Week 5K&D Chap 5 Volcanoes 1K&D Chap 5 Volcanoes 2Quiz Review & Presentation Info Session Chap 5 online Quiz
6 Week 6K&D Chap 7 Mass WastingRemote Sensing of Natural HazardsQuiz Review & Presentation Info Session Chap 7 online QuizRemote Sensing online quiz
7 Week 7Paper Presentations 1Paper Presentations 2Paper Presentations 3
Paper Presentation Assessment
8 Week 8K&D Chap 9 AtmosphereK&D Chap 6 FloodGA Field Trip Chaps 6 & 9 online Quizzes
9 Week 9K&D Chap 9  Severe WeatherK&D Chapter 10 CyclonesEarthquake Practical 1 Chaps 9 & 10 online QuizzesPractical Result Earthquake 1
10 Week 10K&D Chapter 11 Coastal HazardsK&D Chap 13 Bushfires Earthquake Practical 2 Chaps 11 & 13 online QuizzesPractical Result Earthquake 2
11 Week 11K&D Chap 12 Climate ChangeDroughtRural Fire Service Field Trip Chap12 & Drought online Quiz
12 Week 12Final Paper Preparation Session
13 Exam periodFinal paper due
Final paper assessment

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Return of assessment Learning Outcomes
Chapter Quizzes 25 % * * 1,2,3
Paper Presentation 20 % 15/04/2024 29/04/2024 1,2
Final Paper 35 % 07/06/2024 18/06/2024 1,2
Field trip participation 10 % * * 1,2,3
Practical participation 10 % * * 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 Integrity 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 Skills website. 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: 25 %
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: 20 %
Due Date: 15/04/2024
Return of Assessment: 29/04/2024
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: 35 %
Due Date: 07/06/2024
Return of Assessment: 18/06/2024
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: 10 %
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) and answer a series of questions 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. The University’s students are an integral part of that community. The academic integrity principle commits all students to engage in academic work in ways that are consistent with, and actively support, academic integrity, and to uphold this commitment by behaving honestly, responsibly and ethically, and with respect and fairness, in scholarly practice.

The University expects all staff and students to be familiar with the academic integrity principle, the Academic Integrity Rule 2021, the Policy: Student Academic Integrity and Procedure: Student Academic Integrity, and to uphold high standards of academic integrity to ensure the quality and value of our qualifications.

The Academic Integrity Rule 2021 is a legal document that the University uses to promote academic integrity, and manage breaches of the academic integrity principle. The Policy and Procedure support the Rule by outlining overarching principles, responsibilities and processes. The Academic Integrity Rule 2021 commences on 1 December 2021 and applies to courses commencing on or after that date, as well as to research conduct occurring on or after that date. Prior to this, the Academic Misconduct Rule 2015 applies.


The University commits to assisting all students to understand how to engage in academic work in ways that are consistent with, and actively support academic integrity. All coursework students must complete the online Academic Integrity Module (Epigeum), and Higher Degree Research (HDR) students are required to complete research integrity training. The Academic Integrity website provides information about services available to assist students with their assignments, examinations and other learning activities, as well as understanding and upholding academic integrity.

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

The Academic Skills website has information to assist you with your writing and assessments. The website includes information about Academic Integrity including referencing requirements for different disciplines. There is also information on Plagiarism and different ways to use source material.

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

Wednesday 09:00 10:00
By Appointment
Prof Phil Cummins

Research Interests

Prof Phil Cummins

Wednesday 09:00 10:00
By Appointment

Responsible Officer: Registrar, Student Administration / Page Contact: Website Administrator / Frequently Asked Questions