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MST1203 : The Marine Environment

  • Offered for Year: 2022/23
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Guenther Uher
  • Lecturer: Dr Sara Marsham, Dr Heather Sugden, Dr Miguel Morales Maqueda
  • Owning School: Natural and Environmental Sciences
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


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.

Outline Of Syllabus

1. History of Earth and oceans; bathymetry, plate tectonics and sedimentation.
2. The oceans and the global water cycle; seawater composition and properties
3. Global heat budget, atmospheric circulation, ocean currents, deep circulation
4. Waves and tides
5. Geographical and seasonal patterns of marine primary production; major controls of primary
6. Oceans and global change:
case studies to include topics such as pollution transport, sea level rise, ocean acidification
7. Revision Session. Dedicated revision session aimed at preparing students for the exam.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion113:0013:00Completion of coursework 3 (summative incl online test)
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture281:0028:00Lecture
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture11:001:00Revision session towards the end of teaching
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion210:0020:00Completion of coursework 1 (formative) and coursework 2 (summative)
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion280:3014:00Revision for coursework (summative inc online test). This includes revision of taught material.
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading282:0056:00Lecture follow up - wider reading
Structured Guided LearningAcademic skills activities12:002:00PC workshop materials - Numerical Methods for Biology and Marine Science
Structured Guided LearningAcademic skills activities101:0010:00Completion of end of week formative exercises
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops12:002:00PC workshop - Numerical Methods for Biology and Marine Science
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study154:0054:00Follow up of lectures and computer workshop: ReCap and supplementary materials
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lecture materials 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.

End-of-theme formative study exercises will allow students to deepen their understanding of key concepts introduced in the lectures by applying those key concepts to study problems.

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 and online materials. 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 taught sessions.

Assessment Methods

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

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
PC Examination1202A70Inspera Exam: Part 1: Short questions (60%) Part 2: essay (40%)
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written exercise2M301000 word (or equivalent) Summative coursework 1
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Written exercise2MWorksheet based on taught material
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The two 1000-word (or equivalent) formative and summative coursework submissions will assess the students’ knowledge of fundamental physical and chemical properties and processes in the marine environment, and their importance for controlling the distribution of marine plankton. In addition, the students use of the relevant resources to support their ideas and their ability to present information in an appropriate scientific format will be examined.

The digital 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.

Reading Lists