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Module OSX-2007:
Ship-based field course

Module Facts

Run by School of Ocean Sciences

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 1 & 2

Organiser: Prof Simon Neill

Overall aims and purpose

The module is designed to provide experience of multidisciplinary fieldwork and is based around a realistic exercise, at sea, onboard a survey vessel. Students will typically spend one day at sea, collecting data and performing instrument calibration. You will then process this dataset in a series of laboratory and computer sessions, exploring relationships between variables.

Course content

This module provides experience of multidisciplinary fieldwork at sea.

A wide range of oceanographic and geophysical instrumentation is introduced including instruments for measuring salinity, temperature, currents, chlorophyll, suspended and sea bed sediments. These include CTD, optical instruments (transmissometer, fluorometer), and instruments for measuring current (acoustic Doppler current profiler). In addition sampling of plankton, suspended and seabed sediments will be covered.

Students spend one full day at sea on a research vessel, collecting data using on-board instrumentation and collecting samples from the water column and sea bed.

These are combined with data collected by students on other days (at least 12 in total, depending on numbers taking module) to produce an extensive database. This data is used to explore physical, geological, and biological processes in detail, including the relationship between disciplines.

Assessment Criteria


Basic understanding of theory and application of oceanographic instrumentation Basic understanding of oceanographic and plankton sampling


Comprehensive knowledge of the theory and application of oceanographic instrumentation Comprehensive understanding of oceanographic and plankton sampling Show a clear understanding of how empirical data relate to theory Full competence in the use of post-processing techniques Manipulation of data to answer questions relating to observed spatial and temporal variability


Construct a relevant discussion of discrepancies between theory and observations Expertise in post-processing, data analysis and presentation Understanding the limitations of the data collected and how observations might be improved

Learning outcomes

  1. Demonstrate a wide knowledge of both the principle of operation and methods of use of a wide range of oceanographic instruments

  2. Collect samples and record data from the water column and sediment

  3. Analyse samples and data and draw appropriate conclusions

  4. Communicate their findings

  5. Appreciate the contributions of other scientific disciplines to their own specialised field

  6. Process and synthesise large and complex datasets

  7. Understand the practical difficulties associated with making direct measurements in the marine environment, and how to overcome these

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
REPORT Data analysis report 50
EXAM Exam 50

Teaching and Learning Strategy


Briefing/debriefing lecture and lecture sessions 12 x 1 hour: 1. Introduction to the module lecture 2. sampling of seabed sediments 3. acoustic surveying 4. water properties - CTD 5. currents - ADCP 6. Phytoplankton - Chlorophyll 7. sampling plankton 8. suspended sediments - SPM 9. Pre cruise briefing 10. Practical and workshop briefing 11. Practical and workshop debriefing & requirements for data analysis report 12. requirements for scientific report & feedback on data analysis report.


Analysing samples in the laboratory (4 hours)

Practical classes and workshops

Processing oceanographic data computer workshops (3 hours)

Private study

Directed private study: data analysis, reading and integrating results with related literature, preparing data analysis and research reports. Preparation of a 1 page narrative cruise report after the day at sea. Completing 3 MCQ online tests about different aspects of the cruise.


Sampling on the Prince Madog (7 hours)


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

Pre- and Co-requisite Modules

Courses including this module

Compulsory in courses: