Please note: there may be some adjustments to the teaching arrangements published in the course catalogue for 2020-21. Given current circumstances related to the Covid-19 pandemic it is anticipated that some usual arrangements for teaching on campus will be modified to ensure the safety and wellbeing of students and staff on campus; further adjustments may also be necessary, or beneficial, during the course of the academic year as national requirements relating to management of the pandemic are revised.

Oceanography GEOG4115

  • Academic Session: 2022-23
  • School: School of Geographical and Earth Sciences
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 4 (SCQF level 10)
  • Typically Offered: Either Semester 1 or Semester 2 (Alternate Years)
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes
  • Available to Erasmus Students: Yes

Short Description

This course will introduce students to the fundamentals of physical and biological oceanography. It will emphasise the critical importance of the Oceanic environment in driving biogeochemical cycles on local, regional and global scales. The course will cover a broad spectrum from ocean circulation and climate interactions, oceanic geology, coastal processes, oceanic biomes, nutrient movements and cycling, and marine pollution.


Lectures (15 x 1 hour sessions)

Three laboratory sessions (1 x lab of 2 hours, 2 x self study - 2 hours each)

Two online tests (2 x 45 minute)

Requirements of Entry

Entry to Level 3 Geography or Level 3 Earth Science or Environmental Geoscience

Excluded Courses

GEOG4104, GEOG4105, GEOG4116


Two open book online Moodle quizzes completed at home at a specified time (5% each, 10% total)

Oceanography grant writing exercise (50%)

Examination (40%)

Main Assessment In: April/May

Are reassessment opportunities available for all summative assessments? Not applicable for Honours courses

Reassessments are normally available for all courses, except those which contribute to the Honours classification. For non-Honours courses, students are offered reassessment in all or any of the components of assessment if the satisfactory (threshold) grade for the overall course is not achieved at the first attempt. This is normally grade D3 for undergraduate students and grade C3 for postgraduate students. Exceptionally it may not be possible to offer reassessment of some coursework items, in which case the mark achieved at the first attempt will be counted towards the final course grade. Any such exceptions for this course are described below. 

Course Aims

■ To introduce students to the fundamentals of oceanic importance at a global scale.

■ To provide an understanding of dynamic interactions between the oceans, biosphere, atmosphere and hydrosphere.

■ To provide an understanding of the biogeochemistry of the oceans.

■ To critically examine the changing oceanic state under anthropogenic influences and its influence on the physical and biological components.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:

■ Discuss the similarities and differences, including formative processes of the Earth's oceans.

■ Describe the diversity and distribution of life in the oceans.

■ Critically evaluate the physical processes of oceanic water dynamics including wave formation, tides and thermohaline circulation.

■ Analyse what drives patterns of primary and secondary marine productivity.

■ Discuss the properties of different marine provinces.

■ Critically assess the dynamic interaction and inter-dependence of the oceans and atmosphere.

■ Explain the effects and feedbacks caused by increasing atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations.

■ Critically assess the anthropogenic impact on marine biological ecosystems.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.