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ZO5805: MARINE MAMMALOGY (2018-2019)

Last modified: 22 May 2019 17:07

Course Overview

You will take a comparative perspective to develop an understanding of how marine mammals live in the Anthropocene through a series of lectures, practicals and assessments.

Field visits and practical sessions will provide opportunities to develop skills and expertise in identification and comparative anatomy and taxonomy.

Through a student-lead learning approach, you will gain skills in collaborative work and time management and apply your knowledge and understanding of marine mammals to problems related to their ecology and conservation.

Course Details

Study Type Postgraduate Level 5
Session Second Sub Session Credit Points 15 credits (7.5 ECTS credits)
Campus Old Aberdeen Sustained Study No
  • Professor David Lusseau

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

Course Aim:

You will develop an understanding of the diversity of marine mammals and how this diversity emerged.  The course begins with a comparative evolutionary perspective of the three main marine mammal taxa and the processes that drove their evolution.  Following on from the evolutionary work, students will take a comparative approach to life history traits of marine mammals to understand physiological, biological and behavioural adaptations of the three main taxa.  The course concludes with a global overlook of conservation challenges facing marine mammals within the context of their evolution.  In addition to this conceptual framework, students will gain practical skills in comparative vertebrate anatomy and taxonomy, as well as field ecology.

Course outline:

This course is going to run a little bit differently than other courses. We will focus on weekly topicsand the class is going to be divided into three teams which will each focus on one of the three main taxon of marine mammals:

team vaquita (cetaceans)

team walrus (pinnipeds)

team dugong (sirenians) 

Each Monday I will provide you with an overview of the weekly topic. The minimum information you need for that week is covered in the reading required for the week. At the end of the session on Monday I will challenge each team to provide us with a synthesis of information specific to their taxon for the weekly topic. You will then have the whole week to learn and on Friday each team will give us a 30min presentation about their challenge. The presentation can be in any format as long as the information is made also available to the whole class on myaberdeen. I will finish the Friday session with a 30min synthesis and discussion of the key points each team raised. The Thursday session are set aside for practical work. 

In light of Covid-19 this information is indicative and may be subject to change.

Contact Teaching Time

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

Teaching Breakdown

  • 1 Computer Practical during University weeks 32 - 35
  • 1 Field Course during University weeks 31, 33, 35
  • 1 Lecture during University week31
  • 2 Lectures during University weeks 32 - 35

More Information about Week Numbers

In light of Covid-19 and the move to blended learning delivery the assessment information advertised for second half-session courses may be subject to change. All updates for second-half session courses will be actioned in advance of the second half-session teaching starting. Please check back regularly for updates.

Summative Assessments

Class Test (25%), Design Project: Individual (50%), Field Trip Log (25%)

Resit: Resubmission of failed individual elements of continuous assessment


Formative Assessment

There are no assessments for this course.


Class test: feedback is embedded within the test and will be released after the deadline for completion has passed.

Design Project: individualised written feedback.

Field Trip Log:

verbal feedback and individual written feedback

Course Learning Outcomes


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