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National Marine Science Centre Coffs Harbour
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Unit Summary

Unit type

UG Coursework Unit

Credit points

12

Unit aim

The ocean as we know it is the result of physical, chemical and biological processes working in concert. This unit introduces students to the fundamental concepts of oceanography, being physical (ocean currents, circulation and waves), chemical (major and minor ions in seawater) and biological in nature (the planktonic realm). A major emphasis will be on fostering an understanding of how the three interact to drive processes of global significance leading to essential ecosystem service provisions of various kinds (e.g. food/harvest and climate regulation).

Unit content

1) Ocean currents and their drivers

2) Waves and tides 

3) Major and minor elements in seawater and their distribution

4) Chemical tracers as tools to gain process based understanding

5) The base of marine food webs - phytoplankton

6) Zooplankton as a link to nekton and bacteria to close the loop

Learning outcomes

Unit Learning Outcomes express learning achievement in terms of what a student should know, understand and be able to do on completion of a unit. These outcomes are aligned with the graduate attributes. The unit learning outcomes and graduate attributes are also the basis of evaluating prior learning.

On completion of this unit, students should be able to:
1 demonstrate enhanced understanding of the nature and drivers of major ocean current systems, and their significance in Earth's climate system
2 explain the behavior of major and minor ion composition in seawater and their interaction with geological and biological cycles.
3 describe the contributors to marine primary productivity and analyse the relationship between phytoplankton, zooplankton, nekton and bacteria.
4 demonstrate a clear understanding of the interactions of physics, chemistry and biology in shaping the ocean.

On completion of this unit, students should be able to:

  1. demonstrate enhanced understanding of the nature and drivers of major ocean current systems, and their significance in Earth's climate system
  2. explain the behavior of major and minor ion composition in seawater and their interaction with geological and biological cycles.
  3. describe the contributors to marine primary productivity and analyse the relationship between phytoplankton, zooplankton, nekton and bacteria.
  4. demonstrate a clear understanding of the interactions of physics, chemistry and biology in shaping the ocean.

Prescribed texts

  • No prescribed texts.
Prescribed texts may change in future teaching periods.