Coronavirus (Covid-19) Information

Module OSX-1002:
Marine Biology Practical 1

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 aims to introduce students to three important components of Marine Biology: Field Science, Laboratory Science and Communicating Science. It introduces students to the breadth of active research topics within the School Of Ocean Sciences. Students will use a range of different methods regularly employed by Marine Biologists including dissection, microscopy, species identification, data collection, and data analysis. There is also an emphasis on teaching students good laboratory and field skills throughout. During these experiences, students are exposed to a diverse range of species and habitats. At the end of this module, they should have obtained several core-skills needed in their studies, and transferable skills that can be applied across subjects.

Course content

Semester 1

Three laboratory sessions, and two workshops

  1. An introduction to marine plankton and microscopy
  2. The dissection of a marine teleost fish, and production of scientific drawings
  3. An introduction to common intertidal macroalgae and associated epibiota

Semester 2

Two case-study activities which include workshops, field visits, and laboratory work

(This will be updated as the module progresses; much depends on the constantly developing coronavirus pandemic)

Assessment Criteria


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


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.

Learning outcomes

  1. Implement simple laboratory experimentation, or field sampling, to collect data to test a hypothesis.

  2. Demonstrate the ability to dissect scientific specimens and use dissecting and compound microscopes to undertake anatomical observations, drawings and measurements.

  3. Apply knowledge gained during practical work to answer questions about methods used, results obtained, and/or interpretation

  4. Explore, summarise and graphically display key scientific results

  5. Demonstrate the ability to apply appropriate data analysis and interpretation to a scientific dataset.

  6. Explain the methods used and report 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.

  7. Identify a range of marine organisms to taxa and/or species-level, and label key anatomical features.

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
DEMONSTRATION/PRACTICE Practical Skills Assessment 1 15
DEMONSTRATION/PRACTICE Practical Skills Assessment 2 15
CLASS TEST Blackboard Ultra Test 30
CASE STUDY Case Study Report 40

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. Students should use this time to prepare their 4 pieces of assessed coursework.

Practical classes and workshops

A combination of laboratory and field practicals supplemented by workshops and lectures; three standalone laboratories in semester 1, and two "case study" field activities in semester 2, delivered by a combination of the module organiser and active researchers from the school.


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
  • 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


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.

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: