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Module OSX-2003:
Marine Biology Practical II

Module Facts

Run by School of Ocean Sciences

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 1 & 2

Organiser: Dr James Waggitt

Overall aims and purpose

This module is a continuation of OSX1002. It further introduces students to two important components of Marine Biology: Field Science, and Laboratory Science. It also introduces two additional components: Experimentation and Data Management. Students will advance and hone their skills in methods regularly used by Marine Biologists including dissection, microscopes, species identification, data collection, and data analysis. They will also spend a day working on a scientific research vessel, providing an invaluable at-sea experience. Students are again exposed to a diverse range of species and habitats. At the end of this module, students should have furthered several core-skills needed in their studies, and transferable skills that can be applied across subjects.

Course content

There are 12 sessions in this module. The Field Science sessions involve trips to a range of coastal locations around North Wales, and a cruise on a scientific research vessel. In the former, students will test a series of hypotheses about the distributions of salt-marsh vegetation and shorebirds across environmental gradients - recording information in the field, before analysing this data on their return. In the latter, students will perform several trawls to collect and record biological information from benthic and demersal fish. The Laboratory Science sessions involve the inspection of a range of organisms at the School, with students recording useful biological information from vertebrates and invertebrates. The Experimentation sessions will expose hermit crabs and mud-snails to different scenarios and environmental conditions, allowing students to investigate personality and biological rates. The Data Management sessions will introduce functions and methods in Excel and R, providing students with the tools to process and display the large and complex data often encountered in biological studies.

Assessment Criteria


Knowledge based on taught material. A basic understanding of subject-specific concepts and principles.


Knowledge based on the taught material. An understanding of subject-specific concepts and principles, sometimes extending into more specialised areas.


Knowledge extending well beyond the taught material. A thorough understanding of subject-specific concepts and principles, often extending into more specialised areas.

Learning outcomes

  1. Become further acquainted with setting hypotheses, collecting and analysing data.

  2. Continue their development of correct and safe fieldwork/laboratory protocols.

  3. Continue the maintenance of a clear and accurate notebook.

  4. Hone their skills in dissection and microscope use in the laboratory.

  5. Gain further skills in collecting field-data.

  6. Understand the importance of quantitative data and analysis.

  7. An understanding of basic physiology and anatomy of marine organisms.

  8. Experience working on a scientific research vessel.

  9. Learn data management in Excel and R Statistics.

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
REPORT Field Report 1

A report based on the Salt Marsh session.

REPORT Data Presentation Exercise

A blackboard test based on Data Management sessions.

EXAM Semester 2 Exam

An Exam based on Semester 2 sessions.

EXAM Semester 1 Exam

An Exam based on Semester 1 sessions.


Teaching and Learning Strategy

Private study

Students should write additional notes during the field and laboratory sessions within their standard notebooks. Students should also research taught material further, and record these findings in their standard notebooks. Standard notebooks will be offered for sale at the beginning of term, and students will be expected to purchase them. These will be visually checked and date stamped after each practical.


Revision session for EXAM 1 and EXAM 2.


Coast-based practicals.


Ship-based practical.


Laboratory based practicals.


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
  • Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting
  • Self-awareness & Reflectivity - Having an awareness of your own strengths, weaknesses, aims and objectives. Able to regularly review, evaluate and reflect upon the performance of yourself and others

Subject specific skills

  1. Undertake competent field and/or laboratory studies of living systems.
  2. Using research questions and/or hypotheses as the basis for investigation.
  3. Development of qualitative and quantitative techniques
  4. Appreciation of the complexity/diversity of life processes through the study of organisms.
  5. Engage in discussion with specialists/non-specialists using appropriate language.
  6. Awareness of appropriate risk assessment and ethical considerations.
  7. Engagement with current developments in biosciences and data analysis.


Resource implications for students

1. Students are advised to purchase copies of the books below. Copies of Hayward & Ryland held in the practical laboratory can be consulted during laboratory sessions 2. Boots and outdoors clothing are required for Field Science sessions.

Talis Reading list

Reading list

  1. Hayward PJ & Ryland JS. Handbook of the Marine Fauna of North-West Europe, 2nd Edition. Oxford University Press. [Strongly recommended]
  2. Ruppert EE, Fox FS & Barnes RD. Invertebrate Zoology, 7th Edition. Brooks/Cole Publishing.
  3. Pechinik JA. Biology Of The Invertebrates, 7th Edition. McGraw-Hill Education.
  4. Levinton JS. Marine Biology: Function, Biodiversity, Ecology, 2nd Edition. Oxford University Press

Courses including this module

Compulsory in courses: