Skip to main content


NES2501 : Tropical Marine Ecology

  • Offered for Year: 2024/25
  • Module Leader(s): Dr James Guest
  • Lecturer: Dr Theresa Rueger
  • 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 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
European Credit Transfer System


To build on the fundamentals of the functioning of tropical marine ecosystems introduced at Stage 1

(Level 4). Tropical marine ecosystems will be used as a framework to understand key ecological concepts. The module will provide an understanding of core ecological concepts and terms that will equip students with the framework to approach ecological study of marine systems in general. To extend understanding of the complexity and variety of tropical marine habitats, and the key drivers of ecosystem functioning in each. To develop a detailed understanding of the major categories of human and natural disturbances on tropical marine systems, their mechanisms of effect, their sources, and fates. To gain an appreciation of the impact of human activities on tropical coastal ecosystems and understanding of how contemporary and future policy is anticipated to adapt in the face of global change.

Outline Of Syllabus

Lecture material based on the following themes. These topics will be covered broadly using tropical marine systems (e.g., coral reefs, seagrasses, mangroves etc.) as frameworks to explain ecological theory.

1. Ecological patterns and drivers of tropical marine systems

2. Mutualism

3. Competition

4. Predation

5. Grazing

6. Disturbance and resilience

7. Pollution/coastal development

8. Overfishing

9. Climate change

10. Recruitment and supply

11. Tropical biodiversity

12. Demography

13. Adaptation and evolution

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion240:3012:00Revision of course material for summative assessment 2
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture241:0024:00Lectures
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
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading253:0075:00Lecture follow up: Wider reading
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops22:305:00Briefing session and workshop to consolidate lecture materials
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study242:2558:00Lecture follow up: ReCap and supplementary material
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures and supporting materials are designed to give students a broad factual knowledge of key concepts in marine ecology, and their role as drivers of marine ecosystem functioning (using tropical marine systems as a framework). The lectures will focus on species, population and community interaction in a variety of tropical marine habitats and the range of human and natural disturbances that structure these systems.

The two workshops will be used to introduce practical skills such as experimental design and tropical marine field survey techniques and will also be when the formative and summative assessments are set.

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.

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.

Assessment Methods

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

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Digital Examination1801A50Essay (30% of module) Inspera Short Question Quiz (20% of module)
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written exercise1M501000 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 exercise1M1000 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 major processes in tropical marine environments, the key ecological concepts that underpin these processes, the range of disturbances acting on these systems and the ways in which impact is mitigated against and managed. 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 quiz 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.

Study Abroad students should contact the school for an alternative assessment to the Inspera quiz.

Reading Lists