MST1203 : The Marine Environment

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

Lectures and workshops covering the following themes:
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 and atmosphere-ocean interactions
4. Waves, tides and coastal circulation
5. Geographical and seasonal patterns of marine primary production; major controls of primary production
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 ActivitiesLecture291:0029:0028 lectures plus 1 revision session
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion22:004:00Completion of formative assessments
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion12:002:00Examination
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion300:3015:00Examination revision
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion210:0020:00Completing summative assessment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion26:0012:00Preparation for summative assessment
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading282:0056:00Lecture follow up: ReCap
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading282:0056:00Lecture follow up: reading
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops23:006:00N/A
Jointly Taught With
Code Title
MST1207Introductory Oceanography
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures 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.

Workshop sessions will allow students to deepen their understanding of selected key skills and concepts introduced in lectures, give opportunities for the application of graphical and numerical analysis methods in oceanography, and allow for further discussions. This will benefit students as they will have more interaction with academic staff during practical sessions.

Directed research and reading will support the information received through formal lectures by guided independent study using 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 5 and 6.

Assessment preparation and completion will allow students to fully prepare for their formative and summative coursework, and their written examination. They 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

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written Examination1202A60N/A
Exam Pairings
Module Code Module Title Semester Comment
MST1207Introductory Oceanography2N/A
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written exercise2M201000 (or equivalent) coursework exercise
Written exercise2M201000 (or equivalent) coursework exercise
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Written exercise2AWorksheet based on workshop 1
Written exercise2AWorksheet based on workshop 2
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The two 1000 word (or equivalent) 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 written examination will assess the level of knowledge and understanding of all aspects of the module, including student reading.

Reading Lists