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Marine Ecology

Module titleMarine Ecology
Module codeBIO2438
Academic year2023/4
Module staff

Dr Christopher Laing (Convenor)

Dr Chris Lowe (Lecturer)

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 and how this translates to the patterns we see today in our oceans. 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 to marine ecology including habitat type and predator-prey interactions. The module includes practicals that are designed to illustrate how the theory behind marine ecology effects marine life using model species for temperate ocean systems. You will handle community data and analyse behaviour to see first-hand how energy enters and is moved around the marine ecosystem and the biotic factors that influence life. 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

The module will be delivered using a hybrid approach of pre-recorded lectures and face-to-face discussions, workshops and practicals. Lectures will cover a wide range of factors surrounding interactions between marine life and the environment. Practical sessions will be focused on model species 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 teaching10Discussion Groups and Workshops
Scheduled learning and teaching6Online Lectures
Scheduled learning and teaching9Practicals
Guided independent study125Additional reading, weekly tasks, research and preparation for assignments and timetabled sessions


Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Practice questions2 examples1-14Written

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 examination602 hours1-11Written feedback on request
Practical assessment254 sections1-11Graded with class feedback
Data handling task152 tasks1-11Graded with class feedback


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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Essay examinationEssay examination 1-11August assessment period
Practical assessmentPractical assessment1-11August assessment period
Data handling taskData handling task 1-11August 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

  • ELE page:¬†

Module has an active ELE page

Key words search

Marine, Ecology, Community, Model Species, Hybrid

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites

BIO1433: Marine Biology

Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date