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NES1503 : The Marine Environment

  • Offered for Year: 2023/24
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Guenther Uher
  • Lecturer: Dr Miguel Morales Maqueda
  • Owning School: Natural and Environmental Sciences
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus

Your programme is made up of credits, the total differs on programme to programme.

Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
European Credit Transfer System


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
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture241:0024:00Lectures including dedicated end of term revision lecture
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion240:3012:00Revision for coursework (summative). This includes revision of taught material.
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion210:0020:00Completion of coursework 1 (formative) and coursework 2 (summative)
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion120:0020:00Preparation for and completion of digital exam
Structured Guided LearningAcademic skills activities101:0010:00Completion of end of week formative exercises
Structured Guided LearningAcademic skills activities32:006:00Working through exercises introduced in workshop materials
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading242:0048:00Lecture follow up - wider reading
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops32:006:00Three workshops: Mathematics for Biology and Marine Science Biological Oceanography Physical Oceanography
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study154:0054:00Follow up of lectures and computer workshop: ReCap and supplementary materials
Jointly Taught With
Code Title
NES1507Introductory Oceanography
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 distribution of marine organisms. The use of new technologies for ocean observation will be embedded in lecture material.

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.

Interactive workshops will provide students with opportunities to apply key concepts introduced in lectures, interpret oceanographic data, and illustrate and explore taught material with numerical problems.

Directed research, supported by 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 access to key texts, library resources and online materials. Students will be encouraged to become more independent in their learning 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.

Preparation and completion of formative and summative coursework assessments, and further support via a dedicated revision lecture, will allow students to fully prepare for the end of term digital examination.

Assessment Methods

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

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Digital Examination1202A70In-person invigilated digital exam (Inspera) consisting of MCQs and short note type questions
Exam Pairings
Module Code Module Title Semester Comment
Introductory Oceanography2Simultaneous examinations required due to shared question sets
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written exercise2M301000 word (or equivalent) Summative coursework 1
Formative Assessments

Formative Assessment is an assessment which develops your skills in being assessed, allows for you to receive feedback, and prepares you for being assessed. However, it does not count to your final mark.

Description Semester When Set Comment
Written exercise2M1000-word equivalent worksheet based on taught material, with self-assessment and online feedback
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 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