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Marine Ecology

Module titleMarine Ecology
Module codeBIO2438
Academic year2021/2
Module staff

Dr Christopher Laing (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Description - summary of the module content

Module description

Ecology is the study of interactions between organisms and their environment. The diversity of marine life is matched by the extremes of environmental conditions in marine ecosystems and in this module you will explore how animals interact with their environment. As well as examining how environmental conditions influence energy distribution and population dynamics, you will learn the significance of a range of biotic and abiotic factors. The module is dominated by practicals both in the laboratory and on the water in collaboration with local marine organisations. You will see first-hand how energy enters and is moved around the marine ecosystem and the biotic factors that influence life. The module builds to a practical either on the water or in the laboratory where you will investigate how abiotic and biotic factors influence the distribution or behaviour of marine organisms. In this way, the module is directly relevant to research-inspired, inquiry-led learning (RIIL) and employability skills directly related to marine biology.

Module aims - intentions of the module

The module will build on the knowledge of marine biology you developed during Stage 1 (particularly Introduction to Marine Biology) and will enhance your expertise in the study of marine biological oceanography, food-web dynamics and community ecology. By developing an overview of these sub-disciplines, you will have a broad perspective on important issues relevant to the study of marine ecology.

The skills you gain from lectures, fieldwork and seminars will develop or enhance your employability. Transferable skills to other sectors include:

  • problem solving (linking theory to practice, responding to novel and unfamiliar problems, data handling),
  • time management (managing time effectively individually and within a group),
  • collaboration (taking initiative and leading others, supporting others in their work),
  • self and peer review (taking responsibility for own learning, using feedback from multiple sources)
  • audience awareness (presenting ideas effectively in multiple formats).

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Describe how environmental conditions shape the composition and structure of marine ecosystems
  • 2. Develop a deep understanding of the form and function of marine foodwebs
  • 3. By synthesising your knowledge of marine population and community processes understand how this is critical for answering a range of pure and applied questions relevant to marine ecology

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 4. Describe in detail and analyse essential facts and theory across a sub-discipline of biosciences
  • 5. Analyse and evaluate independently a range of research-informed literature and synthesise research-informed examples from the literature into written work
  • 6. Identify and implement, with limited guidance, appropriate methodologies and theories for solving a range of complex problems in biosciences
  • 7. With minimal guidance, deploy established techniques of analysis, practical investigation, and enquiry within biosciences
  • 8. Describe and evaluate in detail approaches to our understanding of biosciences with reference to primary literature, reviews and research articles

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 9. Devise and sustain, with little guidance, a logical and reasoned argument with sound, convincing conclusions
  • 10. Communicate effectively arguments, evidence and conclusions using a variety of formats in a manner appropriate to the intended audience
  • 11. Analyse and evaluate appropriate data and complete a range of research-like tasks with very limited guidance
  • 12. Evaluate own strengths and weaknesses in relation to graduate-level professional and practical skills, and act autonomously to develop new areas of skills as necessary
  • 13. Reflect effectively and independently on learning experiences and evaluate personal achievements
  • 14. Work in a small team and deal proficiently with the issues that teamwork requires (i.e. communication, motivation, decision-making, awareness, responsibility, and management skills, including setting and working to deadlines)

Syllabus plan

Syllabus plan

Lectures will cover a wide range of factors surrounding interactions between marine life and the environment. Practical sessions will be focused on fieldwork where lecture content will be re-enforced. Moreover, experiments on marine community structure and ecosystem function will be conducted.

Learning and teaching

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled learning and teaching7Lectures covering all the material outlined above
Scheduled learning and teaching17Practicals
Guided independent study126Additional reading, research and preparation for assignments


Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Practical report1000 words1-14Written

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay 601500 words1-11Written feedback on request
Practical report401500 words1-11Written


Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Essay Essay 1-11August assessment period
Practical reportPractical report1-11August assessment period

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 40%) you will be required to sit a further assessment. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of referral will count for 100% of the final mark and will be capped at 40%.


Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

  • Lalli, CM & Parsons, T.R. (2002) Biological Oceanography An Introduction. Open University
  • Kaiser MJ et al. (2011) Marine Ecology: Processes, Systems, and Impacts. OUP. ISBN-10: 0199227020
  • Levinton JS (2010) Marine Biology: International Edition: Function, Biodiversity, Ecology. OUP. ISBN-10: 0199766614

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Module has an active ELE page

Key words search

Epigenetics, adaptation, development, phenotype, evolution

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date