MST1205 : Marine Practical Skills 1

Semester 1 Credit Value: 10
Semester 2 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 10.0


To introduce students to fundamental principles of field sampling methods, field observations and recording, whilst using shore-based exercises and research vessel work to measure environmental and biological characteristics of estuarine and coastal environments.

To introduce standard laboratory procedures applicable to a wide range of biological and environmental analyses

To acquire the practical skills underpinning these laboratory procedures, and develop awareness of good laboratory practice regarding health and safety

To give a first introduction to experimental design via field and laboratory sessions

To provide opportunities to apply numeracy & data analysis skills from NES1204 Study Skills to solve a diverse range of problems from contrasting field and laboratory settings

To acquire skills in recording and presenting scientific information

Outline Of Syllabus

This module provides a sound basis for the understanding of fundamental field and laboratory methods in marine science and equips our students with the practical skills required for biological and environmental surveys and laboratory analyses.

All students will

- attend a boat work session on our research vessel which will introduce them to the full range of sampling equipment in a small group setting and provide opportunities for practical exercises on board

- attend two intensive field weeks (1 per semester) which will give practical introductions into survey design and techniques, design and application of keys, qualitative and quantitative analysis of survey data, and taxonomy and anatomy of coastal marine organisms in a diverse range of local environments

- take part in laboratory sessions designed to teach the practical skills required to
      Identify bacteria, phyto- & zoo-plankton, and macroalgae
      examine the internal anatomy of key marine organisms
      culture marine bacteria and phytoplankton and studying their growth physiology, and carry out
a diverse range of seawater analyses

- complete one small group laboratory exercise on experimental design and blind sample analysis

The module will include lectures and a range of field, boat and laboratory activities with small group teaching elements. All field, boat and laboratory activities will practise observational, note taking and reporting skills using a field and laboratory notebook.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture21:002:00Introductory lectures
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion11:301:30Sitting practical examination
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion160:308:00Revision for practical examination – 30 minutes each for 16 practical sessions
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion310:0030:00Completing summative assessments (laboratory & field reports)
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion90:304:30Completing formative assessments
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical163:0048:00Laboratory practicals
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical18:008:00Research vessel practical
Guided Independent StudySkills practice200:3010:00Completing laboratory/field notebook
Guided Independent StudySkills practice161:0016:00Preparation for practical sessions
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesFieldwork236:0072:00Two field weeks (one each in semesters 1 & 2)
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures will introduce the students to the format of the module and outline expectations, including revision requirements for examinations.

Practical sessions are designed to introduce students to key concepts and allow them the opportunity to develop expertise in a range of fundamental scientific skills, including using scientific literature, and collecting, interpreting and presenting scientific information.

Students will be directed to supporting information to consolidate their learning by guided independent study, in particular via online material for practical preparation and subsequent data analysis. Students will be encouraged to become more independent in their learning at this stage in their programmes, developing 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 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
Lab exercise902A40Practical examination in Ridley Teaching Laboratories 1&2
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Practical/lab report1M201000 word equivalent report on a laboratory exercise in semester 1
Practical/lab report2M201000 word equivalent report on a field work exercise in semester 2
Prob solv exercises2M20500 word equivalent report on a laboratory based problem solving exercise
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Written exercise1MFive formatively assessed exercises linked to field or laboratory practicals
Written exercise2MFour formatively assessed exercises linked to field or laboratory practicals
Practical/lab report1MNotes from formative practical exercises (Field/Lab Notebook)
Practical/lab report2MNotes from formative practical exercises (Field/Lab Notebook)
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The formatively assessed exercises coursework are designed to test the breadth of knowledge of important concepts related to the application of biological and environmental survey methods, and laboratory analyses. Feedback from formative coursework will prepare students for summative coursework assessments and the end of year practical exam.

The two 1000 word equivalent summative reports will assess the students’ ability to plan and carry out experimental work from one field and one laboratory settings, and accurately record, analyse and report scientific data. In producing the report, students will need to demonstrate their use of taught practical skills, and appropriate reporting and interpretation of observations.

The problem solving exercise will examine the students’ ability to design an appropriate experiment suited to the application to unknown samples, and the ability to report outcomes in a concise laboratory report.

The practical exam will comprise either a vertebrate or invertebrate dissection in the laboratory under standard examination conditions. Students will be expected to produce annotated drawings outlining the key external and internal characteristics of a specimen and detail how form relates to function. In addition, students will compare the morphological features of two similar organisms to identify similarities and differences between them.

Reading Lists