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Module OSX-4011:
Practical Oceanography-AMG

Module Facts

Run by School of Ocean Sciences

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 1

Organiser: Dr Katrien Van Landeghem

Overall aims and purpose

This module will give students both a theoretical background in and practical experience of the acquisition, processing and analysis of oceanographic and geophysical data:

  • Students will be familiarised with various marine geo-acoustic techniques as a means of remotely sensing the (sub-)seabed. They will join the Research Vessel Prince Madog to collect a suite of data sets themselves. Students will gain experience with specialised software packages to process the data, integrate the various sources of information and to map / visualise this to a high standard. They will analyse and discuss the marine geological processes that have shaped the area of investigation.
  • Students will be taught to understand and write tender documents in relation to geophysical offshore site investigations.

Course content

Practical experience gained of

  • Geophysical surveying: sidescan sonar, sub-bottom profiling and sediment coring/sampling, acoustic core logging
  • Offshore data processing, data integration, report writing and scientific discussion on geological processes
  • Geographical Information System (GIS) software and Sub-bottom seismic interpretation software

Classroom activities:

  • Short course on GIS, geodesy and positioning
  • Short course on ocean acoustics
  • Short course on marine geoacoustics

Learning outcomes mapped to assessment criteria


Good Good 60-69% Performs most of the processing necessary to display the survey data in the most meaningful way. Some attempt at interpretation and critical appraisal of the techniques employed. Consideration of the errors associated with the data, but incomplete appreciation of the implications of such errors. Tender document and interview reveals competency in terms of addressing the offshore site investigation problem given.

Conduct a range of Oceanographic and Geoscience surveys from the point of acquisition to the reporting stage.

Process and interpret the data sets acquired, via an integrated Geographic Information System

Critically analyse the underpinning acoustic theory and models used for interpretation

Understanding and writing tender documents, in relation to geophysical offshore site investigations, including survey planning and costing its execution

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
AMG Prince Madog Survey Report 25
AMG GIS Exercise 25
AMG Time-lapse bathymetry exercise 25
AMG Geoacoustics & SI Planning 25

Teaching and Learning Strategy

Private study

Students will read books and peer-review papers to enhance their understanding of the subject matter.


Lectures on Geodesy/Positioning 3 hours. Lectures on GIS 2 hours. Lectures on introduction to ocean acoustics 5 hours. Lectures on oceanographic instrumentation 4 hours. Lectures on geoacoustics 10 hours.


Seminars – external speakers from industry 3 x 1 hour


Multiple workshops on GIS and multiple workshops on acoustic data processing/analyses


Fieldwork on Prince Madog 1 day (8 hours)


Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Numeracy - Proficiency in using numbers at appropriate levels of accuracy
  • Computer Literacy - Proficiency in using a varied range of computer software
  • Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
  • Exploring - Able to investigate, research and consider alternatives
  • Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
  • Inter-personal - Able to question, actively listen, examine given answers and interact sensitevely with others
  • Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.
  • Safety-Consciousness - Having an awareness of your immediate environment, and confidence in adhering to health and safety regulations
  • Presentation - Able to clearly present information and explanations to an audience. Through the written or oral mode of communication accurately and concisely.
  • Teamwork - Able to constructively cooperate with others on a common task, and/or be part of a day-to-day working team
  • Mentoring - Able to support, help, guide, inspire and/or coach others
  • Management - Able to utilise, coordinate and control resources (human, physical and/or financial)
  • Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting

Subject specific skills

  • Consider issues from a range of interdisciplinary perspectives.


Talis Reading list

Reading list

  • Reynolds, 2011. An Introduction to Applied and Environmental Geophysics. (2nd Edition). Wiley-Blackwell
  • Willie, P. C. 2005. Sound Images of the Ocean in Research and Monitoring. Springer
  • Great start: "Intro to Underwater Acoustics" by Lurton 2010: Chapter 2
  • Perfect overview paper: Jacobsson et al., 2016. Mapping submarine glacial landforms using acoustic methods. From: Dowdeswell, J. A., Canals, M., Jakobsson, M., Todd, B. J., Dowdeswell, E. K. & Hogan, K. A. (eds) 2016. Atlas of Submarine Glacial Landforms: Modern, Quaternary and Ancient. Geological Society, London, Memoirs, 46, 17– 40, This is downloadable from:

Courses including this module

Compulsory in courses: