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Last modified: 16 Jun 2022 10:15

Course Overview

  • This course explores how marine organisms interact with each other and their environment to form functioning ecosystems.
  • Consideration of biological production in the sea will show how marine ecosystems are fuelled.
  • The structure and function of marine food webs will be explored to give an appreciation of important differences from terrestrial food webs and how they respond to natural and anthropogenic influences.
  • Practical sessions will develop your skills in collecting, analysing and interpreting marine ecological data.
  • An introduction to the ‘ecosystem-based approach’ will show how understanding of marine ecosystem functioning can be applied to managing human activities in the sea.

Course Details

Study Type Undergraduate Level 3
Session First Sub Session Credit Points 15 credits (7.5 ECTS credits)
Campus Aberdeen Sustained Study No
  • Dr Philip Smith

Qualification Prerequisites

  • Either Programme Level 3 or Programme Level 4

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

Marine ecology deals with how organisms interact with the environment, and with their own and other species. Understanding these interactions is essential whether your interests in the marine environment are narrow (e.g. particular groups of species) or broad (e.g. oceanic processes). At the ecosystem level, describing patterns over broad spatial or temporal scales is essential to interpreting how the marine environment behaves in response to global processes; e.g., climate change, pollution, and overfishing. Integrative thinking is also a hallmark of the Ecosystem Approach to various problems, which you will study in the course.

This course explores the ecology of marine organisms in different environments, and aims to explain current understanding of patterns and processes in a variety of marine ecosystems. The course builds on the knowledge developed in BI25Z5 Fundamentals in Marine Biology.

The course aims:

  • to deepen knowledge and understanding of physical and chemical aspects of the marine environment
  • to develop knowledge about major types of marine habitats
  • to develop knowledge about key components of marine food webs
  • to explore the characteristics of specific marine ecosystems (polar and North Sea) in detail, with an emphasis on trophic interactions
  • to understand basic principles of the Ecosystem Approach, and to identify the information required to implement the approach

Details, including assessment, may be subject to change until 31 July 2022 for 1st half-session courses and 23 December 2022 for 2nd half-session courses.

Contact Teaching Time

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

Teaching Breakdown

  • 1 Field Course during University week15
  • 1 Science Laboratory during University weeks 14, 16 - 18
  • 1 Lecture during University weeks 13, 18
  • 2 Lectures during University weeks 14 - 17

More Information about Week Numbers

Details, including assessment, may be subject to change until 31 July 2022 for 1st half-session courses and 23 December 2022 for 2nd half-session courses.

Summative Assessments

Marine Ecosystem Review (group presentation with weighting from peer assessment) 25%

Practical assessments 75%



Students will repeat whichever elements of the assessment were failed or not completed at first sitting; the marks for elements already passed will be carried forwards.

Formative Assessment

There are no assessments for this course.

Course Learning Outcomes

Knowledge LevelThinking SkillOutcome
FactualRememberILO’s for this course are available in the course guide.

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