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Ocean Management and Conservation

Module titleOcean Management and Conservation
Module codeBIO3433
Academic year2020/1
Module staff

Professor Callum Roberts (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Description - summary of the module content

Module description

Oceans and seas were once thought to be too vast to be affected by anything other than localised human impacts. The persistence of this view well into the Anthropocene has been helped by the fact that, as a land-living creature, our attention is directed stubbornly above water and that the ocean surface conceals most of what goes on in the sea. While it is true that human impacts in the sea have lagged those on land, that impact is now rising fast. In recent decades human influence has expanded to even the remotest regions of the high seas, and to the bottom of the deepest abyss. Despite accumulating evidence of the growing scale and intensification of human impacts on the sea, management action has been slow, patchy and has lagged well behind efforts made to protect terrestrial wildlife. This module will introduce you to some of the most important dimensions of human influence on ocean life and ecosystems and the timescales over which they have developed and intensified. It will examine and assess the impacts seen on ocean life and explore options to manage and mitigate their effects.

Module aims - intentions of the module

This module aims to deepen your understanding of how human influences are altering the physical, chemical and ecological environment of the sea. Each of the various ways by which human activity is manifested in the sea produces its own set of outcomes, but these influences also interact in complex, synergistic and cumulative ways, producing more far reaching and often unexpected changes. The rapidity of such changes has taken us by surprise and demands a radical rethink of how we manage the sea. This module will develop your capacity to think critically about the causes, consequences and management remedies for biodiversity loss in the ocean.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

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

  • 1. Describe in detail ways in which the oceans are changing under human influence
  • 2. Outline the major threats to marine life arising from these changes
  • 3. Discuss management approaches to ameliorate human impacts on the sea

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

Syllabus plan

Syllabus plan

This module will begin by considering extinction risk in the sea, looking in detail at vulnerable ocean ecosystems, including critical coastal habitats such as coral reefs, mangroves and sea grass. It will then evaluate the success of initiatives that have been implemented to restore and conserve ocean ecosystems, both worldwide and in the UK. This module will also look in detail at the value of marine reserves in protecting vulnerable ecosystems, with consideration of the importance of marine protected areas close to us in Cornwall.

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 Teaching22Lectures and practicals
Guided Independent Study128Additional research, reading and preparation for module assessments


Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Discussions during lectures and practical sessionsOngoing throughout the moduleAllOral

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
Essay601500 words1-11Written feedback
Popular science article401500 words1-11Written feedback


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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
EssayEssay1-11August reassessment period
Popular science articlePopular science article1-11August reassessment 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 re-submit an assessment as described in the table above. If you are successful on referral, your overall module mark will be capped at 40%.


Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Roberts, C.M. (2013) Ocean of Life: How our Seas are Changing, Penguin Books.

Plus 2-3 up-to-date scientific studies recommended for each lecture.

Module has an active ELE page

Key words search

Biodiversity distribution, biodiversity loss, habitat loss, extinction, ocean conservation, marine conservation, climate change, sea level rise, ocean acidification, ecosystem restoration, marine protected areas, coral reefs, mangrove forests, seagrass beds

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date