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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

Organiser: Dr Laura Grange

Overall aims and purpose

This module is a continuation of OSX-1002. It further introduces students to two important components of Marine Biology: Field Science, and Laboratory Science. In addition, the module introduces two additional components: Experimentation and Data Management. Students will advance and hone their skills in methods regularly used by Marine Biologists including dissection, microscopy, 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 acquired transferable skills that can be applied across subject disciplines.

Course content

There are 16 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 these 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. In addition, students will participate in a science report writing session and an online peer review exercise, which will clarify the assessment requirements of coursework reports that are submitted in semesters 1 and 2. Lastly, there will be revision sessions at the end of both semesters during which students will review key concepts and methods covered during the field and laboratory sessions facilitating exam preparation. There will be a chance to ask questions about the module content, practical test and written exam during this session.

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. By the end of this module, you should be able to:

    1. Demonstrate the ability to dissect scientific specimens and use dissecting and compound microscopes to undertake anatomical observations, drawings and measurements.
    2. Identify a range of marine organisms to taxa and/or species-level, label key anatomical features, and relate these characteristics to physiological processes and/or behaviour.
    3. Apply knowledge gained during practical work to answer questions about methods used, results obtained, and/or interpretation.
    4. Formulate a hypothesis, and plan and implement simple laboratory experimentation, or field sampling, to collect data to test this hypothesis.
    5. Explore, summarise and graphically display key scientific results.
    6. Demonstrate the ability to select and apply appropriate data analysis and interpretation to a scientific dataset.
    7. Explain the methods used, and report and interpret the key results of practical work in the style of a scientific report, whilst adhering to scientific conventions in terms of structure, style, data presentation and referencing.
    8. Critically appraise and evaluate experimental design, data limitations, and/or unexpected results.

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
Field Report - Saltmarsh Ecology 15
Semester 1 Practical Test 15
Semester 1 Exam 20
Data Report - Presentation and Interpretation in R 15
Semester 2 Practical Test 15
Semester 2 Exam 20

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 a synthesis of their 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.


Revision session for EXAM 1 and EXAM 2.


Ship-based practical on the Prince Madog undertaking fish surveys.


Laboratory-based practical sessions.


Coast-based practicals (saltmarsh ecology and wader foraging field trips).


Report writing computer-based workshop.


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


Resource implications for students

1. Students are advised to purchase copies of the books listed. Copies of Hayward & Ryland held in the practical laboratory can be consulted during laboratory sessions. 2. Boots and outdoor clothing are required for Field Science sessions. 3. Laboratory coats are required for Practical Laboratory sessions. Students are provided with a free laboratory coat at the start of their undergraduate degree. For those students who forget their laboratory coat, one can be rented from the technical staff for £1. If a laboratory coat is lost it must be replaced at the expense of the student. Students may purchase a laboratory coat from the technical staff for £10. 4. Laboratory notebooks are required for Practical Laboratory sessions. Students are provided with a free notebook at the start of their undergraduate degree. 5. Dissection kits are not required. For sessions, where dissection kits are required, kits will be provided by the technical staff. Students are welcome to bring their personal kit if they have one. Alternatively, kits can be purchased from the technical staff, but this is not a requirement.

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: