Modules for course C1AF | MSC/MB
MSc Marine Biology

This is a provisional list of modules to be offered on this course in the 2020–21 academic year.

The list may not be complete, and the final course content may be different.

You can also view the modules offered in the years: 2018–19; 2019–20.

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Year 1 Modules

Compulsory Modules

Semester 1

  • OSX-4000: Marine Ecology Skills (20)
    The module will be delivered in a 3 week block in the first half of semester 1 and will consist of the following: 1. 4 x four hour lecture blocks, 4 computer laboratory sessions and two seven hour practicals plus a sea-going field trip to survey benthos aboard the RV Prince Madog 2. Reading list and web sites will be provided on the module page on Blackboard, to guide students for self-study. Each lecture block will have associated reading material which will be book chapters, instruction manuals (PRIMER) and/or primary source papers. All students will be expected to read this material. In addition, a broader range of reading sources will be recommended to allow students to read more widely and explore topics of interest in more detail. All reading material will be made readily available either electronically via Blackboard or library on-line resources or in books held on reserve in the library
  • OSX-4002: Habitat Ecology/Coastal Survey (20)
    This module provides an opportunity to understand the principles of ecological surveys in relation to a range of coastal habitats, both temperate and marine, and to put that knowledge into practical use by undertaking surveys in inter-tidal habitats of north Wales. The module begins with introductory lectures on the principles and background behind ecological surveys including an in depth look at the variability inherent to many marine ecological systems. This is followed by lectures on different coastal habitats and the kinds of survey techniques utilised. Following these lectures a practical exercise is undertaken involving group work to make surveys at a diverse coastal site nearby. Workshops are initially used to plan the practical work, followed by reconnaissance trips and finally the survey itself. A reporting workshop will be used to disseminate results.

Semester 2

  • OSX-4001: Marine Fisheries (20)
    The course will provide (a) a broad overview of fisheries biology and (b) detailed training in the techniques used in the assessment of finfish population dynamics. In a series of 12 lectures the following topics will be covered: the current status of global marine finfish fisheries will be discussed; bivalve, gastropod/echinoderm, cephalopod, crustacean and finfish fisheries will be reviewed; the types of models used in stock assessment and fisheries modelling will be introduced; the role of mapping essential fish habitat for commercial species as a means to both target these species during fishing activities and to providing protected areas will be reviewed; the effects of fishing activities on benthos will be discussed. Students will write a short essay (5 credits), selected from a list provided by staff, on a topic that has been covered in the lecture series but also requires further self-study by the student. In a series of 4 lectures, students will be given a detailed review of how to assess the population dynamics of finfish species ¿ areas to be included are how to estimate abundance, how to age finfish and how to calculate growth rates, mortality rates and maturity ogives. The importance of all of these measurements in developing management models for exploited fish species will be discussed. As part of this course, there will be two 7 hr practicals where fish caught on fishing trips in the Field skills module will be dissected. Students will learn about the morphology and ecology of pelagic and demersal fishes, learn dissecting skills and be trained in collection of data that can be used to assess the population dynamics of fishes. The knowledge obtained from these lectures and practicals, together with the student¿s own self-study will be used to compile a detailed report (15 credits) on the population dynamics of one of the main teleost fish species in the coastal waters of North Wales (e.g. dab, plaice, gurnards, whiting) for the module assessment.
  • OSX-4005: Marine Vertebrates (20)
    In this course, students will be given a broad overview of the diversity of marine vertebrates, their biology and ecology. In consultation with staff, the students will select a topic of their choice and conduct a detailed desk top study and write a report on this topic. Students will formulate a specific hypotheses and search for supporting and contrary evidence in the scientific literature and published datasets (such as fishery landings). The course will start with fourteen lectures in which students will receive an overview of the diversity of the different groups of marine vertebrates (fish, mammals, reptiles and seabirds) and aspects of their biology and ecology. During these lectures they will also receive guidance on the type of topics that are acceptable for the desktop study. Students can suggest their own topic or choose from a list of suggested topics provided by staff. Emphasis will be on, but not limited to, testing hypotheses on the interaction between ecology of marine vertebrates and anthropogenic effects. After the lectures, all students will submit a topic; the suitability of these topics will be assessed, by a member of staff. At the end of the module, students will produce a report based on their analyses with a 10 000 word limit. All students will present their work in a 25 minute presentation (plus time for questions/feedback) that all students attend. During the course, students will also visit Cardigan Bay Marine Wildlife Centre where the cetacean and seabird research at the centre will be reviewed and the students will have the opportunity observe the behaviour of marine mammals and seabirds in the field.
  • OSX-4007: Marine Invertebrates (20)
    The course will cover classification of marine invertebrates, building on introductory material in previous modules. Biological and ecological aspects of the life cycle of selected species will be covered in detail, including reproductive biology, larval development, larval feeding and nutrition. Factors controlling larval supply and recruitment in natural populations will be considered. Coverage of anatomy and physiology of selected groups will include endocrine control of moulting and reproduction in crustacea, as well as osmoregulation and nutritional physiology. Methods of estimating growth rates in wild and cultured invertebrates will be reviewed. Current status of aquaculture for invertebrate species will be reviewed, moving on to biological criteria for selecting species of aquaculture and culture practices for a range of commercially important species. This will include all aspects of larval and growout culture for molluscan and crustacean shellfish from water quality management, live food production, broodstock selection and management, spawning induction, handling gametes and embryos, larval development and growth. Grow-out production systems from extensive to intensive will be covered. The problems faced by aquaculture including site selection, water quality, natural food supply, nutrition and formulated feeds, genetics, diseases and environmental sustainability will be considered.
  • OSX-4008: Research Design & Planning (20)
    The purpose of the literature review is to ensure that the student is aware of background literature in the general area of their research project topic. Undertaking a literature review will ensure that they are well briefed before embarking on research, and should focus their attention on very specific areas of knowledge or lack of it and areas of contradiction. The literature review will enable them to place their study in the context of what is known, and thereby stimulate them to develop hypotheses which can be tested by specific questions. It is an essential step in project design. Following introductory lectures each student will spend their time in self-study and literature searching. Project supervisors will meet with their students on a non-formal basis throughout the semester and provide guidance and feedback about progress in the completion of the literature review. At the conclusion of the literature review the student will be able to complete a project proposal form outlining the specific hypotheses to be tested and the overall plan for the project. This will be presented as a 10 minute talk with 5 minutes of questions and will help to confirm sound plans, spot problems and suggest better approaches, such that the student has a much clearer idea of how to proceed. Staff and fellow students will review the proposals, in particular to rein in overambitious plans, to identify problems in experimental design, raise awareness of likely logistical problems, and to draw attention to unconsidered safety issues.

credits from:

  • OSX-4009: Research Project /Dissertation (60) (Semester 3)
    The module will provide students with training and practice in the acquisition of information and data from experimental, observational and computational research and the effective communication of their results. The process of acquiring information will lead to the production of a plan and risk assessment. Students will integrate the various stages of their literature, experimental, computational and observational research into a scientific project report. The bulk of the module will be self-study.