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Current Issues in Marine Biology

Module titleCurrent Issues in Marine Biology
Module codeBIOM553
Academic year2021/2
Module staff

Dr Ceri Lewis (Lecturer)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Description - summary of the module content

Module description

With the ever-growing human population, the marine environment is increasingly under threat from a range of anthropogenic and natural disturbances. Some major threats include habitat loss due to coastal development, noise and plastic pollution, and increased atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, resulting in ocean acidification and global warming. This module focuses on the current research issues in the field of Marine Biology. We will discuss these global ocean challenges and their impacts on marine wildlife, as well as evaluating the methods that are currently used to study these effects and proposed solutions to these challenges with the aim of better managing and protecting the biodiversity in our oceans. The module requires a good fundamental knowledge of marine habitats (e.g. continental shelf seas, coral reefs, polar seas, rocky shores) together with their key species and functional groups and of marine ecosystem processes (e.g. primary production, secondary production, bentho-pelagic coupling, bioturbation).

Module aims - intentions of the module

This module aims to develop a critical awareness of current issues in marine biology. You will develop skills in sourcing and interpreting scientific literature, analysing experimental methodologies and results and communicating facets of marine science.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

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

  • 1. Outline and critically analyse the current threats facing the marine environment.
  • 2. Describe in detail and analyse the impacts of a range of anthropogenic stressors on the health, physiology and behaviour of marine species and the functioning of marine environments including Arctic ecosystems and coral reefs (and associated habitats: sea grass beds and mangroves).
  • 3. Critically evaluate the range of methodologies employed for studying the impacts of these global challenges on marine species and ecosystems.
  • 4. Critically evaluate tools and methodologies for ameliorating / mitigating the impacts of anthropogenic disturbances on marine ecosystems by management or restoration efforts.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

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

  • 5. Evaluate in detail approaches to our understanding of organismal biology and ecology (with some molecular and chemical components) with reference to primary literature, reviews and research articles.
  • 6. Analyse in detail essential facts and theory in a subdiscipline of the biosciences.
  • 7. Analyse and evaluate independently a range of research-informed literature and synthesise research-informed examples from the literature into written work.
  • 8. With limited guidance, deploy established techniques of analysis and enquiry within the biosciences

ILO: Personal and key skills

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

  • 9. Communicate effectively arguments, evidence and conclusions using written and oral means in a manner appropriate to the intended audience individually and as part of a group.
  • 10. Devise and sustain, with little guidance, a logical and reasoned argument with sound, convincing conclusions.
  • 11. Analyse and evaluate appropriate data with very limited guidance.

Syllabus plan

Syllabus plan

Lectures will cover:
• ocean warming;
• ocean acidification;
• fisheries challenges and management
• threats to the Arctic ecosystem;
• plastic pollution;
• marine restoration (with associated assessed coursework);
• ocean challenges and solutions
• threats to reefs;
• marine protected areas;
• marine noise pollution;
• use of population genetics in studying connectivity and fisheries management.

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 TeachingScheduled Learning and Teaching14Lectures
Scheduled Learning and Teaching8Interactive journal clubs and discussion sessions
Guided Independent Study128Reading and preparation for lectures


Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Dragon’s Den on Global Ocean Solutions2x1 hourAllVerbal and written online
Online discussion forum1 hour per weekAllVerbal and written online

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
Literature review603000 words1-7, 9-11Written
Marine restoration assignment402000 words1-11Written


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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Literature reviewLiterature review1-7, 9-11August Ref/Def
Marine restoration assignmentMarine restoration assignment1-11August Ref/Def

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 50%) you will be required to sit a further examination. 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 50%.


Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

  • ELE page: A range of scientific papers and links to relevant websites will be made available throughout the module via ELE.

Module has an active ELE page

Key words search

Marine, environment, aquatic, global warming, ocean acidification, over-fishing, coral reefs, threats, fisheries, marine protected areas, plastic pollution, connectivity, arctic, connectivity, restoration.

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date