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Module OSX-4000:
Marine Ecology Skills

Module Facts

Run by School of Ocean Sciences

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 1

Organiser: Dr Adel Heenan

Overall aims and purpose

The module aims to provide a high level introduction to the scientific method and approaches to experimental and survey design and data analysis and interpretation. Learning will be enhanced through a practical demonstration at sea of sampling constraints, marine organism identification skills training, laboratory analysis of raw material yielding data for computer sessions used to enhance statistical skills. The module introduces the students to data analystical skills using multivariate and univariate statistics and skills in the use of Geographic Information Systems. The specific aims are:

1) To an appreciation of the scientific method and different approaches to experimental and survey design.

2) To acquire an understanding of the appropriate statistical methods to analyse different types of data.

3) To understand how to report and interpret statistical outputs.

4) To develop key scientific writing skills in terms of reporting methodology, results, interpretation in the context of other studies.

5) To introduce Geographical Information Systems, working with and obtaining various spatial data and developing map production skills.

6) To be able to differentiate between different taxonomic groups of fauna reliably.

Course content

The module will be delivered in a 5 week block in the first half of semester 1 and will consist of the following:

  1. Lectures, workshops, computer laboratory and practical laboratory sessions 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

Learning outcomes mapped to assessment criteria


Rudimentary report containing the very basics of what was done, but missing detail and with only the simplest analysis. Design and layout of report acceptable.

On completion of the module students will be able to demonstrate:

An understanding of how to proceed to design an appropriate survey or experimental design to test specific hypotheses.

How to analyse and interpret data appropriately.

How to use GIS systems to produce maps and to do basic spatial analyses.

How to identify benthic organisms.

Practical considerations of field work at sea.


Ability to interpret and report appropriate experimental and survey methodology and statistical analysis and its interpretation.

Will be able to present the output of (3) in a logical and coherent report that uses an evidence-based approach to develop arguments.

Will be able to present survey designs in plenary and defend their choice of approach.

Will able to navigate taxanomic keys to confidently identify organisms to at least Genus level

Be able to assess which types of data are required for GIS

Know how to plan and execute a field survey including GIS and EO data

Know the basics of how to setup and use a GIS

An understanding and knowledge of the key statistical techniques to interpret data from survey and experimental designs.

An understanding and knowledge of how to use ArcGIS systems to produce maps etc.

An understanding of how to proceed with taxonomic determination.

An understanding and knowledge of how to use SPSS and PRIMER and to interpret the outputs.

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
REPORT Benthic survey cruise & lab report 70
COURSEWORK Predictive modelling GIS Exercise 30

Teaching and Learning Strategy

Practical classes and workshops

2 x 7 hrs Taxonomic practical exercises

Lecture 16
Practical classes and workshops

Computer practicals


Sea-going field trip to survey benthos aboard the RV Prince Madog

Private study 146

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
  • 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
  • Leadership - Able to lead and manage, develop action plans and objectives, offer guidance and direction to others, and cope with the related pressures such authority can result in

Courses including this module

Compulsory in courses: