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MST2205 : Marine Practical Skills II

  • Offered for Year: 2022/23
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Guenther Uher
  • Lecturer: Dr Jane Delany, Dr Benjamin Wigham, Professor Per Berggren, Professor Tony Clare, Dr Gary Caldwell, Dr Miguel Morales Maqueda
  • Owning School: Natural and Environmental Sciences
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 10
Semester 2 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 10.0


To build on the fundamental laboratory, boat work and research skills introduced at Level 4 in MST1205 Marine Practical Skills I. To equip students with the necessary practical skills and confidence in preparation for their Level 6 Research Project. To promote team work, decision making, project management and leadership skills. To provide training in good laboratory practice and health and safety, including completion of risk assessments and COSHH forms.

This module will equip students with the practical skills necessary to become practicing professional marine scientists. The philosophy of this module is to train students to design and analyse experiments to answer specific hypotheses with an appropriate level of supervision. Emphasis will be placed on acquisition of numerical skills, risk assessment, teamwork and working to tight deadlines.

Outline Of Syllabus

This module will build upon the scientific research skills developed in MST1205 and MST1204 and introduce students to more advanced techniques to prepare them for their final year Research Project. The module will use a series of lectures, practicals and boat-based teaching to deliver material in a cohesive way. Students will undertake laboratory and field work sessions complemented by lectures, tutorials, workshops, and computer classes.

All students will:

- attend a residential field course which will provide intensive training in taxonomic invertebrate and algal identification, ecological survey techniques, coastal oceanography and group work.

- carry out small group boat work to practice biological and oceanographic survey methods, and subsequent data analyses

- take part in field surveys to designed to (i) study diversity and ecology of contrasting habitats, such as rocky shore and intertidal mudflat environments, and (ii) study the diversity and behaviour of marine vertebrates.

- Practice laboratory techniques, experimental design, data reporting and analysis in a series of laboratory practicals including themes such as anatomy, physiology, feeding interactions and toxicology.

- Take part in interactive computer-based workshops on marine data analysis and the modelling of population dynamics and environmental feedbacks

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion15:005:00Completing formative field report
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion210:0020:00Completing two summative practical assessments
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture22:004:00Tutorials on data analysis
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion210:0020:00Reading and preparation for summative assessments
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture22:004:00Briefing sessions field practicals
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture51:005:00Introductory lectures to practicals & tutorials on data analysis
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion32:006:00Completing formative practical assessments
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical13:303:30Laboratory practical (Cetacean dissection)
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical33:009:00Laboratory practicals (toxicology, Mytilus feeding I & II)
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical28:0016:00Research vessel practicals
Structured Guided LearningAcademic skills activities61:006:00Academic skills activities based on supporting online material
Guided Independent StudySkills practice110:305:30Preparing for practical sessions
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops32:006:00PC practicals - Daisyworld in Semester 2
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops13:003:00Subtidal survey workshop. Semester 1
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesFieldwork39:0027:00Field practicals (Sandy shore, rocky shore, Farne Islands)
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesFieldwork160:0060:00Millport residential field course. Semester 2
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures, laboratory practicals, fieldwork and workshops are designed to introduce the students to the theory behind the experimental protocol, discuss and analyse the data collected during the experiments and the techniques and skills used. Additional sessions on-board the research vessel will give students experience of conducting scientific data collection in a marine setting.

Academic skills activities will utilise online content to allow students to prepare for their taught sessions.

These sessions will provide students with a solid foundation and understanding of:

• Practical and field methods in field marine biology, zoology and oceanography

• Proposing, testing and challenging hypotheses

• Data handling and processing

• Concepts in marine community dynamics

• Oceanographic survey methods

The residential field course will extend students experience and knowledge of field based survey methodology and provide the opportunity for fundamental scientific skills to be developed.

Directed research and reading will support the information received through formal practicals by guided independent study using primary literature and 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 6.

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Practical/lab report1M25Laboratory report (1000 word equivalent)
Practical/lab report2M40Four residential field course worksheets (each 500 words or equivalent)
Practical/lab report2M25Field report (1000 word equivalent)
Prof skill assessmnt2M10Biodiversity test
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Prob solv exercises1MTwo formative practical exercises
Practical/lab report1MOne formative Field report
Prob solv exercises2MOne formative practical exercise
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The formative laboratory, field and research vessel assessments are designed to test the breadth of knowledge of important concepts related to designing and conducting scientific experiments and surveys using appropriate techniques and equipment.

Assessment of laboratory and field classes will be summatively assessed through the completion of practical reports. These are designed to examine the student’s ability to present scientific information and data in a concise way while following a specific presentation format.

The residential field course will be assessed through a biodiversity test and four field course exercise worksheets designed to examine their ability to synthesise practical knowledge and apply it to new marine environments. Students will be expected to work in teams to collect scientific data, which they will present clearly with justification for their findings.

Reading Lists