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BI25Z4: OCEAN BIOLOGY (2018-2019)

Last modified: 22 May 2019 17:07

Course Overview

The fundamentals of marine biology are introduced by surveying life in the oceans and associated marine environments. The word ‘ocean’ is interpreted in its widest sense, to include the open oceans and deep sea, as well as shelf seas, coastal waters, shores and estuaries.

Lectures inform you about structure and functioning of different marine ecosystems, adaptations of marine organisms for their particular living conditions, and delving into certain specific aspects of life in the sea.

Coursework and associated briefings develop skills in marine biological research methods, data analysis, reading scientific articles, critical thinking, and scientific writing. 

Course Details

Study Type Undergraduate Level 2
Session Second Sub Session Credit Points 15 credits (7.5 ECTS credits)
Campus None. Sustained Study No
  • Dr Philip Smith

What courses & programmes must have been taken before this course?

What other courses must be taken with this course?


What courses cannot be taken with this course?


Are there a limited number of places available?


Course Description

The course aims to give you a sound understanding of the nature of life in the sea. Running over 12 weeks, the course comprises a combination of three lectures per week, five fortnightly practical classes and associated coursework, covering a broad range of topics in marine biology.

The course begins by explaining major oceanographic processes, the key components of marine ecosystems, and the special nature of marine food webs. A variety of marine ecosystems from different parts of the world are then explored, such as coral reefs, kelp forests, mid-water zones, the ocean bed, and hydrothermal vents. Important aspects of marine life, such as symbiosis, buoyancy and migration, are also highlighted, richly illustrated with examples from particular species.

Practical work will give you hands-on experience with investigating diversity and adaptations of marine organisms (including preserved fresh and living specimens). There is a strong emphasis on developing your ability to collect quantitative biological data, to subject the data to statistical analysis, and to present and interpret the findings in a standard scientific format.

An essay, prepared over 5 weeks, gives you the opportunity to explore in depth a specific marine biological topic of your own choosing from a list, and will develop your capacity for searching and critically reviewing marine biological literature, and for scientific writing.

Associated Costs

Course practicals require the use of a lab coat which can be purchased locally for around £16

Contact Teaching Time

Information on contact teaching time is available from the course guide.

Teaching Breakdown

More Information about Week Numbers

Details, including assessments, may be subject to change until 31 August 2023 for 1st half-session courses and 22 December 2023 for 2nd half-session courses.

Summative Assessments

1st Attempt: One 2-hour examination (30% written; 20% multiple choice questions); in-course assessment of laboratory work (30%) and one essay (20%).

Resit: Similar to the first attempt, with continuous assessment marks and/or exam mark carried forward and an opportunity to complete either a resit exam or resubmit continuous assessment assignments, depending on which was failed in the 1st attempt.

Formative Assessment

Essay feedback and revision sessions.


Extensive written feedback is given for every practical report handed in, as well as for the essay. Further to this, there is an essay feedback session where generic comments are given to the class.

Course Learning Outcomes


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