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Exploitation of the Sea

Module titleExploitation of the Sea
Module codeBIO2432
Academic year2020/1
Module staff

Dr Nicola Weber (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Description - summary of the module content

Module description

Humankind has exploited the seas for millennia for food, travel, defence and trade, and we have developed a variety of ways in which to extract resources to meet the growing needs of the global population. Exploitation has had negative consequences upon the marine environment, affecting the delivery of the goods and services with which we have become accustomed. We take a swim through the earth’s marine ecosystems investigating the many ways in which we have exploited coastal and deep water habitats. You will take a detailed look at particular issues regarding exploitation of resources and their associated impacts, focusing specifically on the modern day, including, artisanal and industrial fisheries, use of endangered species, and energy extraction.

Module aims - intentions of the module

In this module we aim to coherently describe the impacts that humans have on marine ecosystems while exploiting resources. You will gain insight into topical issues in marine ecosystems that will help to position you in the emerging employment sectors of environmental impact assessment and conservation science. You will learn from research-led examples delivered by academic staff working at the forefront of science into the effects of human exploitation on marine ecosystems.

You will also develop key professional skills, including: communication of ideas, principles and theories using a variety of formats, in a manner appropriate to the intended audience; in addition you will develop collaboration, negotiation, planning and project management skills from undertaking group-based assessed project activities.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

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

  • 1. Recognise and critically evaluate the impacts humans have on marine ecosystems
  • 2. Evaluate aspects of current research that highlight human impact in marine ecosystems with reference to research articles, reviews and textbooks
  • 3. Identify and evaluate newly emerging approaches to mitigate human impacts to marine environments
  • 4. Communicate complex issues relating to exploitation
  • 5. Apply critical thinking approaches and to critically evaluate approaches used to quantify human impacts
  • 6. Correctly identify marine species, including commercial fish, crustaceans, molluscs and cephalopods

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

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

  • 7. Describe in some detail essential facts and theory across a sub-discipline of biosciences
  • 8. Identify critical questions from the literature and synthesise research-informed examples from the literature into written work
  • 9. Identify and implement, with guidance, appropriate methodologies and theories for addressing specific research problems in biosciences
  • 10. With some guidance, deploy established techniques of analysis, practical investigation, and enquiry within biosciences
  • 11. Describe and evaluate 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...

  • 12. Develop, with some guidance, a logical and reasoned argument with valid conclusions
  • 13. Communicate ideas, principles and theories fluently using a variety of formats in a manner appropriate to the intended audience
  • 14. Collect and interpret appropriate data and complete research-like tasks, drawing on a range of sources, with limited guidance
  • 15. Evaluate own strengths and weaknesses in relation to professional and practical skills, and apply own evaluation criteria
  • 16. Reflect effectively on learning experiences and summarise personal achievements

Syllabus plan

Syllabus plan

  • Introduction
  • Fisheries
  • Aquaculture
  • Exploitation of endangered species
  • Marine social sciences and ‘optimism’
  • Energy extraction
  • Marine noise

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 teaching18Lectures and seminars
Scheduled learning and teaching3Commercial marine species practical
Scheduled learning and teaching3Marine spatial ecology practical
Guided independent study126Additional research, reading and preparation for module assessments


Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Questions and worksheets during lectures and practical sessionsOngoing throughout the module1-15Oral

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 words1-13Written
Group-led production of leaflet on dilemmas of exploitation40Production of leaflet4, 6, 12-13Written


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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Essay Essay 1-15August assessment period
Group-led leaflet production Group led leaflet production (if whole group) or press release (individual)4, 6, 12-13August 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 submit 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

  • Callum Roberts, The Unnatural History of the Sea: The Past and Future of Humanity and Fishing, Gaia Books Ltd, 2007, ISBN 1856752941
  • Callum Roberts,Ocean of Life: the Fate of Man and the Sea, Viking Books, 2012, ISBN 067002354X
  • Rachel Carson, The Sea Around Us, Oxford Paperbacks, 1997, ISBN 0195069978.

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Module has an active ELE page

Key words search

Impact assessment, bycatch, fisheries, marine mammals, seismic surveying, noise, marine habitats, marine species, sharks, seabirds

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date