Study Abroad and Exchanges



MST1103 : The Marine Environment

Semester 1 Credit Value: 15
Semester 2 Credit Value: 15
ECTS Credits: 15.0


To provide a multidisciplinary introduction to oceanography. To introduce students to the fundamental features of ocean geology, seawater properties, and circulation, and the fundamental interactions between environmental factors and marine life, which determine the distribution of primary production on global scales. To appreciate the role of the oceans in the Earth system and the possible impacts of global change on marine ecosystems as a whole. To consider how new technologies may influence energy production and how the oceans can provide important global resources.

Outline Of Syllabus

36 x 1 hour lectures based on the following topics:

1. Introduction: History of Oceans and Marine Science
2. Earth and Ocean Structure
3. Emergence of the Ocean Basins
4. Marine Sediments
5. The Oceans and Global Water Cycle
6. Basic Seawater Properties I
7. Basic Seawater Properties II
8. Hydrothermal Vents
9. The Global Heat Budget and the Atmosphere
10. Ocean Circulation and Currents I: The Role of Temperature and Salinity
11. Ocean Circulation and Currents II: Wind-driven Motions
12. Waves
13. Tides
14. The Coastal Marine Environment
15. Estuaries
16. Marine Optics
17. Nutrients and Minor Elements
18. Primary Productivity I
19. Primary Productivity II
20. Primary Productivity III
21. Measuring Primary Productivity
22. Seawater Gases
23. Zooplankton Behaviour I
24. Zooplankton Behaviour II
25. Diel Vertical Migration
26. Large-scale Distribution I
27. Large-scale Distribution II
28. The Importance of Food Webs
29. Oceanographic Instrumentation
30. Technologies for Exploring the Deep Sea
31. Offshore resources: oil exploration
32. Offshore resources: pipelines and sub-sea structures
33. Renewable Energy from the Sea: Wind Power and Harnessing Waves, Tides and Currents
34. Treating ballast water and invasive species
35. Anthropogenic Noise in the Sea
36. Revision Session

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion12:002:00Examination
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion360:3018:00Examination revision
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion110:0010:00Completing summative assessment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion120:0020:00Preparation for summative assessment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture381:0038:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading362:0072:00Lecture follow up: reading
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading362:0072:00Lecture follow up: ReCap
Guided Independent StudySkills practice11:001:00Online test
Guided Independent StudySkills practice200:3010:00Preparation for online test
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study157:0057:00General Reading
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures are designed to give students a broad factual knowledge of key oceanographic processes, including properties of the seafloor and seawater. The interaction between marine organisms and seawater will be covered to show students how the chemical and physical properties are important in controlling the biological populations. The use of new technologies in ocean exploration will be covered, along with how they can be used to generate renewable energy from the oceans.

Directed research and reading will support the information received through formal lectures by guided independent study using key texts. Students will be encouraged to become more independent in their learning at this stage in their programmes to develop key skills such as Active Learning, Goal Setting and Action Planning, Decision Making, and Initiative, which they will require at Levels 5 and 6.

Assessment preparation and completion will allow students to fully prepare for their formative and summative coursework, and their written examination. They will have the opportunity to consolidate and build upon knowledge gained in the taught sessions.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written Examination1202A60N/A
PC Examination601A10Online assessment
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written exercise1M152 equally weighted 500 word (or equivalent) coursework exercises - Semester 1
Written exercise2M152 equally weighted 500 word (or equivalent) coursework exercises - Semester 2
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The summative online assessment at the end of Semester 1 is designed to monitor student’s understanding of the taught material mid-way through the module. This will allow students and staff to identify areas to revisit and revise in semester 2 to ensure fully awareness of the Intended Knowledge and Intended Skills Outcomes.

The 2000 word summative coursework will assess student’s knowledge of how important physical and chemical properties of the marine environment are in influencing the distribution of marine organisms, through a series of short answer questions. In addition student’s use of the relevant literature to support their ideas and their ability to present information in an appropriate scientific format will be examined.

The written examination will assess the level of knowledge and understanding of all aspects of the module, including student reading. The written examination will be divided into four parts and will include questions to assess the breadth of knowledge acquired throughout the module.
Part A – complete the missing word/phrase. Answer all 30 questions (30 marks)
Part B – provide a definition of a term. Answer all 5 questions (20 marks)
Part C – short answer questions of either written text or a figure. Answer 4 questions from 6 (20 marks)
Part D – brief essay. Answer 1 question from 3 (30 marks)

Reading Lists