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MST2203 : Oceans and Climate I

  • Offered for Year: 2022/23
  • Module Leader(s): Prof. Robert Upstill-Goddard
  • Lecturer: Dr Miguel Morales Maqueda, Dr Guenther Uher
  • Owning School: Natural and Environmental Sciences
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


A module covering fundamental concepts and principles in ocean physics, chemistry and primary production building upon basic background provided in the Stage 1 module The Marine Environment (MST1203). The module aims to equip the students with an introductory but solid understanding of the state-of-the-art in modern fundamental oceanography that should help them both to place knowledge acquired in other Environmental and/or Marine Science modules on a clearly laid physical and biogeochemical background, and to progress, if they so wish, onto advanced oceanography modules such as Stage 2 Ocean and Climate II (MST2208) and Stage 3 Advanced Marine Research Topics 3 (MST3203).

Outline Of Syllabus

The lectures introduce foundational topics in oceanography, with special emphasis on:

•       Processes driving and controlling the ocean’s general circulation:
o       Surface and bottom fluxes.
o       Mixing, upwelling and downwelling.
o       Water mass formation and transformation.
•       Primary production dynamics
o       Light and temperature and other controls
o       Blooms
o       Nutrient and nutrient limitations
•       Ocean key chemical cycles
o       Carbon and nitrogen cycles
o       Primary production control on chemical cycles
o       Air-sea exchanges, vertical transports, burial and recycling

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture241:0024:00Lectures - consolidation of online materials
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials11:001:00Revision
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials241:0024:00To be read by the students ahead of the live sessions
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials11:001:00Online via Canvas - Module introduction and recommended reading list
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion315:0045:00Completion of 1 formative and 2 summative coursework assessments
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study353:00105:00Wider background reading
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

This module is entirely based on lectures and reading and has no laboratory or field component. Teaching activities are therefore limited to scheduled sessions, reading/studying and assessment. The lecture materials will introduce the students to all the theoretical concepts required to make progress in physical and biochemical oceanography. References and further reading suggestions will be provided to help the students in their independent study, which is the core part of the module. The lecture materials will also include worked examples of analysis and interpretation of oceanographic data as well as the relevant calculations required to complete such analysis. The scheduled lectures will be used to cement and consolidate the student’s knowledge through questions and answers and problem solving.

Assessment preparation will allow students to fully prepare for their formative and summative coursework.

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written exercise1M30Written exercise (maximum 1000 words)
Written exercise1M70N/A
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Written exercise1MWritten exercise (maximum 1000 words)
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The written exercises will assess the level of knowledge and understanding on all aspects of the module, including student reading. The first written exercise is formative, and feedback will help the students to improve their scientific writing, logical thinking and concept manipulation skills in preparation of the three following summative exercises. The last two written exercises will present students with part A) containing short questions and answers and part B) which will involve essay writing and data analysis and interpretation. Questions will be drawn from each of the three main topics of the course, namely physical oceanography, primary production and biochemical cycles.

Reading Lists