BIOU6OC: Oceanography and Limnology

Co-ordinator: Dr Michael Wyman

Prerequisites: BIOU3EG

Module Description

This module focuses primarily on the dynamic nature of the oceans, the largest but least explored living space on Earth. It concludes with an introduction to the biology and hydrology of inland waters.  The module will cover the following topics:

Oceanography: Ocean basins: their geological origins and evolution; Physico-chemical properties of seawater and tracer conservation; Air-Sea exchange and ocean circulation; Waves and tides; Organic matter production, POC/DOC export and remineralization; Marine sediments; Biogeochemical cycles (Si, C, N and P); Marine ecosystem dynamics; Global change: climate forcing and ocean acidification.

Limnology: Lakes of the world: types and mode of origin; Lake hydrology; Light, depth and thermal stratification; Nutrient cycling, primary productivity and energy flows; Monitoring lake water quantity and quality.

Module Objectives

This module introduces students to the origin and physical characteristics of the ocean basins, the chemistry of seawater and its interactions with the overlying atmosphere and neighbouring terrestrial environment. It examines the critical role of the marine biota in the biogeochemical cycling of elements in the biosphere, and provides an introduction to the biology of selected marine habitats such as hydrothermal vents and upwelling regions. The latter part of the module provides contrast and introduces students to limnology, the study of inland water bodies with an emphasis on their origins, hydrology, and biology. Both sections of the module examine how global change may affect the future productivity of aquatic habitats.

Core Learning Outcomes

On  completion of this module students will develop an understanding of:

  • how the oceans and inland water bodies are sampled and analysed
  • the critical role of the oceans in the climate system of the past, present and future
  • the environmental factors that impact on the productivity of different ocean provinces
  • the origins, chemistry and physical features of inland waters and their biological impacts


Total Study Time 200 hours
Scheduled Learning & Teaching 40 hours: lectures, seminars, practical classes and workshops, external visits, scheduled on-line discussions or similar
Guided Independent Study 160 hours: both directed learning undertaken in student's own time, and their own self-directed study for assessment
Placements 0 hours


Coursework 50%
Examination 50%
Practical 0%
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