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MST1201 : Marine Biology

  • Offered for Year: 2022/23
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Heather Sugden
  • Lecturer: Dr Benjamin Wigham, Professor Tony Clare, Dr Jane Delany, Professor Pip Moore
  • Owning School: Natural and Environmental Sciences
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


To enable students to gain knowledge of the fundamental processes and functions of key marine ecosystems. To provide an understanding of the importance of marine ecosystems in relation to their distribution and productivity, and introduce students to different organismal processes such as feeding strategies, reproductive strategies and adaptations to biotic and abiotic factors. To relate knowledge of organisms in different ecosystems to each other and compare organisms in different environments. To appreciate the specific uniqueness of the plankton to marine systems and their role in life-history processes, marine food-webs and their responses to environmental change.

Outline Of Syllabus

30 x 1 hour lectures (plus 1 x 1hr revision lecture) based on the following themes:

1.       Diversity of Marine Habitats
2.       Patterns of distribution of marine fauna and flora
3.       Controls of distribution – environmental and biological interactions
4.       The importance of plankton in marine systems
5.       Zooplankton distribution and behaviour
6.       Marine Food-webs

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion300:3015:00Revision of course material for summative assessment 2
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture311:0031:00Lectures
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion16:006:00Completion of summative 2 coursework assessment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion210:0020:00Completion of formative and summative 1 coursework assessment
Structured Guided LearningAcademic skills activities101:0010:00Completion of end of week quizzes
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study312:0062:00Lecture follow up: ReCap and supplementary material
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study156:0056:00Lecture follow up: Wider reading
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures are designed to give students a broad factual knowledge of the diversity of marine habitats and the patterns of distribution of marine organisms. The lectures will focus on the controls of distribution including environmental and biological interactions. They will also cover the importance of both phyto- and zooplankton in marine systems and the conservation and management of the marine environment.

Directed research, through the use of supplementary online material and activities, and wider reading of the scientific literature will support the information received through lectures. Independent study will be guided through the use of these materials and online access to key texts/eBooks. 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 both their formative and summative coursework assessments. They will have the opportunity to consolidate and build upon knowledge gained in the lecture sessions.

Alternatives will be offered to students unable to be present-in-person due to the prevailing C-19 circumstances.

Students should consult their individual timetable for up-to-date delivery information.

Assessment Methods

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

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
PC Examination6001A701.5 hour take home exam to be submitted within 24 hours.
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written exercise1M30Coursework 2: 1,000 word (or equivalent) summative coursework 1
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Written exercise1MCoursework 1: 1000 word (or equivalent) formative coursework 1
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The two 1000-word (or equivalent) pieces of formative and summative coursework will assess student’s knowledge of the diversity of marine habitats, the patterns of distribution of marine organisms within these habitats and environmental and biological controls on distribution. 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 online exam and essay will assess the level of breadth and depth of knowledge and understanding of all aspects of the module, including incorporation of additional online resources and student wider reading. The exam is set in the assessment period and students will have a 24 hour inclusive window to complete and submit the exam.

Reading Lists