Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2023-2024


Department: Geography


Type Open Level 3 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2023/24 Module Cap Location Durham


  • Any Level 2 Geography module


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • To provide an understanding of key issues in oceanographic research
  • To provide an insight into the implications of possible changes in the ocean, including the opportunity to undertake work on real oceanographic data


  • Geological oceanography: Origin and evolution of the oceans. Seafloor processes and their wider implications, such as for climate, ecosystem and hazards. Understanding of globally important sedimentary processes and biogeochemical cycles.
  • Physical oceanography: Principals of ocean circulation. Drivers and impacts of surface and deep water circulation.
  • Chemical oceanography: Interactions between biogeochemical cycling and ocean chemistry.
  • Ecological oceanography: Understanding of the ocean ecosystem and its relevance to palaeoceanographic studies.
  • Case studies on topical issues in oceanographic and palaeoceanographic research

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • The role played by the Oceans in the Earth System
  • Ocean structure and circulation
  • Key issues in biogeochemical cycling
  • Key controls on marine ecology
  • Evidence for past oceanographic change
  • Seafloor processes and their wider importance
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Understand and analyze key oceanographic and palaeoceanographic data
  • Understand and interpret key palaeoceanographic proxies
Key Skills:
  • Access and interpret detailed oceanographic measurements
  • Evaluate published interpretations in light of new / additional data
  • Produce written arguments of complex scientific issues in a concise and logical form

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • Lectures will provide the necessary breadth of coverage, overview and study guide required by the aims and objectives. These will be supported by additional reading lists that will enable students to build on the information provided in the lecture. Lectures will also inform understanding of current issues in oceanography that will be addressed directly by the seminars
  • Seminars will be issue based and will provide students with the opportunity to discuss, develop and evaluate ideas covered in the lectures. These will also encourage students to work in small groups to develop this understanding
  • Workshops will focus on specific aspects of oceanography enabling students to handle real data and provide insight to the research methods used in ocean science. The coursework associated with these projects will enable students to demonstrate detailed knowledge of specific aspects of the course and assess students' ability to evaluate different perspectives and explanations proposed for oceanographic phenomena. These will be delivered through three workshop sessions
  • The unseen examination will enable the students to demonstrate their understanding of the complex interactions that take place within the ocean systems and to place them in the context of past environmental change

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 18 Weekly 1 hour 18
Workshop 3 Varies 2 hours 6
Seminars 6 Varies 1 hour 6
Student Preparation & Reading Time 170
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Examination Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Online 24 hour unseen examination 2 hours (recommended) 100%
Component: Essay Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay (max 5 pages A4) 100%

Formative Assessment:

Feedback on seminars and data analysis exercises during workshops

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University