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91167 Introduction to Oceanography

Warning: The information on this page is indicative. The subject outline for a particular session, location and mode of offering is the authoritative source of all information about the subject for that offering. Required texts, recommended texts and references in particular are likely to change. Students will be provided with a subject outline once they enrol in the subject.

Subject handbook information prior to 2020 is available in the Archives.

UTS: Science: Life Sciences
Credit points: 6 cp
Result type: Grade and marks

Description

The ocean covers ~70% of the Earth’s surface, and is fundamentally important to our social, economic and environmental wellbeing, underpinning Australia’s ‘blue economy’, worth over 42 billion annually. Despite its value, the ocean faces major challenges—e.g. declining fisheries needed to sustain the human population, the accumulation of plastic and other pollution, and the loss or degradation of habitats due to coastal development. For the ocean to have a new future, we need to understand how it works and devise solutions for how we can improve its health. This subject will explore the physical, chemical and geological processes that occur over different spatial and temporal scales, and the impact this has on ocean life. The interaction of the ocean with the atmosphere and climate systems will be examined, highlighting contemporary changes and options for mitigation and adaptation. We will examine key processes through hands-on experimentation and contemporary data acquisition and processing techniques, including use of open-access software. You will develop skills in problem-solving, application of digital technology and data visualisation to understand ocean processes, collecting and analysing both field and laboratory data.

This subject is predominantly taught at UTS City Campus, with some laboratory practicals and lectures presented at other Sydney-based locations.

Subject learning objectives (SLOs)

Upon successful completion of this subject students should be able to:

1. Understand the drivers of ocean circulation, and be able to apply learnt physical principles to design appropriate sampling strategies for near-shore coasts and estuaries.
2. Apply the information learnt regarding the chemistry and optics of seawater and describe its implications for organism physiology and metabolism (e.g. photosynthesis, chemosynthesis).
3. Collect, quality control (e.g. examine data distribution, identify outliers) and plot oceanographic data, as well as undertake quantitative analyses using non-proprietary software available on the web.
4. Compile oceanographic data into specific formats to meet requirements for their deposition into publicly-available repositories for ongoing use, as well as access oceanographic data from existing online databases.
5. Compare and evaluate different ocean regions and understand their geochemical history and potential biological dynamics.
6. Explain the mechanisms underlying ocean processes and discuss their role in phenomena such as algal bloom formation, tropical cyclones, tsunamis.
7. Make sound scientific inference from observations and experiments and demonstrate through written, visual and oral presentations that your data is an evidence base for decision-making and ocean policy development.
8. Reflect on and discuss contemporary ocean issues including climate change, pollution, and coastal development.

Course intended learning outcomes (CILOs)

This subject also contributes specifically to the development of following course intended learning outcomes:

  • An understanding of the nature, practice and application of the chosen science discipline. (1.0)
  • Encompasses problem solving, critical thinking and analysis attributes and an understanding of the scientific method knowledge acquisition. (2.0)
  • The ability to acquire, develop, employ and integrate a range of technical, practical and professional skills, in appropriate and ethical ways within a professional context, autonomously and collaboratively and across a range of disciplinary and professional areas, e.g. time management skills, personal organisation skills, teamwork skills, computing skills, laboratory skills, data handling, quantitative and graphical literacy skills. (3.0)
  • The capacity to engage in reflection and learning beyond formal educational contexts that is based on the ability to make effective judgments about one's own work. The capacity to learn in and from new disciplines to enhance the application of scientific knowledge and skills in professional contexts. (4.0)
  • An awareness of the role of science within a global culture and willingness to contribute actively to the shaping of community views on complex issues where the methods and findings of science are relevant. (5.0)
  • An understanding of the different forms of communication, writing, reading, speaking, listening, including visual and graphical, within science and beyond and the ability to apply these appropriately and effectively for different audiences. (6.0)

Contribution to the development of graduate attributes

This course will aim to develop the following attributes:

1. Disciplinary knowledge and its appropriate application

Developing an understanding of oceanographic processes that occur over multiple spatial and temporal scales and its application to real-world problems will be achieved through:

  1. Audience polling in lectures to gauge your initial understanding of the ocean and your comprehension of oceanographic concepts taught through the semester, including the links between the physical, chemical, and biological properties of natural ocean ecosystems.
  2. In-class discussion about the application of knowledge to real-world problems. Such activities will allow you to exercise your reflective understanding of the lecture material on ocean processes, and is designed to give you insight into how to apply your oceanographic knowledge in a real-world scenario.
  3. Peer teaching, where you will work together to observe, measure and explain oceanographic processes to one another.
  4. Visualisation and interpretation of oceanographic data using software-based tools.

2. An enquiry-oriented approach

Undertaking problem-solving, critical thinking and implementing the scientific method will be achieved through:

  1. Examination of oceanographic data using software visualisation tools, and having to interpret it based on concepts learnt in lectures and through self-directed reading.
  2. Practical classes where you will design and undertake your own measurements relating to ocean processes.

This will be assessed through documentation of observations, oral, numerical, graphical and video presentation of your scientific inference and deduction, and the preparation of research reports.

3. Professional skills and their appropriate application

Improving your personal, professional and intellectual development is encouraged through:

  1. Teamwork and collaboration during classes, where you will work together to achieve a shared outcome.
  2. Peer-assessment, where you will give your peers feedback, developing your skills in listening and receiving input, articulating your ideas and respecting other people’s views.
  3. Setting objectives to be completed within a time frame, such that you develop planning, time management, and prioritisation skills.

This will be assessed by the timely submission of your assessments.

4. Ability and motivation for continued intellectual development

The capacity to engage in reflection and learning beyond formal educational contexts, based on the ability to make effective judgments about theoretical understanding will be developed during classroom discussions.

  1. You will be asked to think about how the ocean processes learnt in class are linked to real-world problems (a process known as reflexive thinking), and participate in brain-storming sessions to try and devise solutions.

5. Engagement with the needs of Society

The awareness of the role of science within society, particularly as it relates to ocean literacy, is an important goal of this subject. This is addressed via “research spotlights” within lectures, where you will gain a deeper understanding of how scientific research is yielding insights to help reduce the impacts of human activities on ocean health.

Your level of literacy will be assessed by your creation of video demonstrations and infographics on ocean processes, based on your observations in practical classes, and self-directed research.

6. Communication skills

  1. Excellence in visual communication will be developed through the design of an infographic.
  2. Excellence in written communication will be developed through the completion of laboratory exercises and preparation of an ocean process report, where you will demonstrate an understanding of biologically-mediated ocean processes derived from hands-on measurements and classroom learning.

The ability to integrate and synthesise data, and develop a logical flow of text to describe multiple lines of evidence, will comprise a large component of the marking criteria for this assessment.

The various formats (e.g., graphic, numerical, written) used to present your research findings will provide you with the opportunity to think and communicate creatively using digital media.

Teaching and learning strategies

This subject involves a minimum of 5.0 contact hours per week through lectures and practical sessions. You will need to allocate additional time to prepare for classes and complete assessments. The course will be delivered by way of lectures and practical classes, including laboratory activities and computer exercises, field work, and self-directed learning. You should attend class (where we will do interactive learning) if you want to do well in this subject.

The teaching and learning strategies include:

  1. Lectures that will provide explanation and insight on the way the ocean works. The presentations by lecturers will draw from real-world examples and their own oceanographic data, helping to bring theoretical concepts alive. You will have the opportunity to further develop your understanding through interactive activities such as in class discussions, quizzes (see 3. below) and Q+A sessions with your lecturers and demonstrators.
  2. Practicals that will allow you to get hands-on experience in deploying oceanographic sensors and samplers, downloading sensor data, examining, plotting and interpreting oceanographic data, making decisions about experimental design and sampling, as well as using contemporary scientific instrumentation to analyse samples.
  1. Access to online materials (e.g., UTSOnline, UTS Oceanography Facebook page) and a digital textbook that can be viewed on your phone and other mobile devices. Online materials will also include Mentimeter, an online polling tool that will allow you to answer quiz questions based on your understanding of the preparative materials given to you before specific lectures and practical classes. These quiz questions will then be shared with your peers, evaluated and completed during class, spaced throughout the semester.
  2. Collaborative activities where you will work with peers to design a sampling strategy, make observations and measurements of ocean samples, document your results and prepare graphical and numerical data summaries. These activities will allow you to exercise skills in professional teamwork and communication, and well as research practice and enquiry, including coming to agreement on a suitable strategy, structuring the scientific enquiry into a specific set of tasks, listening to other people’s point of view, contributing verbal and written input, and sharing responsibility for the completion of tasks.
  3. Formative feedback in the classroom that will allow you to evaluate your comprehension of the subject material in an interactive setting. You can take advantage of the opportunity for direct feedback and explanation during conversations with the instructor/s.

Formal feedback sessions where you will use SPARKPlus to assess your peers, as well as receive verbal feedback from your instructors during classes. You will also work individually using reflective practice to self-assess.

Assessment

Assessment task 1: Ocean process report with data file

Intent:

This assessment task contributes to the development of the following Science Faculty graduate

attributes:

1. Disciplinary knowledge and its appropriate application

2. Enquiry-oriented approach

3. Professional skills and their appropriate application

6. Communication skills

Objective(s):

This assessment task addresses subject learning objective(s):

3 and 4

This assessment task contributes to the development of course intended learning outcome(s):

1.0, 2.0, 3.0 and 6.0

Type: Exercises
Groupwork: Individual
Weight: 30%
Length:

Your submitted report will take the form of a 3 page document with the following sections:
a) Results including a Figure (with legend) showing chlorophyll-a concentrations corresponding to dilutions and a Figure (with legend) showing the temperature measured in the field over time, plus a third figure (with legend) showing the relationship between grazing rate and temperature.
b) Discussion including how much variability there is in grazing rate across temperature, and by inference, in the ocean domain you examined in the field.

Criteria:

Full marking rubric for the report will be available from week 1 on UTS Online. Students will submit a data file that must meet all the specified requirements. The grade for the data file submission will be pass (i.e. met all of the specifications) or fail.

Assessment task 2: Infographic

Intent:

This assessment task contributes to the development of the following Science Faculty graduate

attributes:

1. Disciplinary knowledge and its appropriate application

3. Professional skills and their appropriate application

4. Ability and motivation for continued intellectual development

5. Engagement with the needs of Society

6. Communication skills

Objective(s):

This assessment task addresses subject learning objective(s):

1, 2, 6, 7 and 8

This assessment task contributes to the development of course intended learning outcome(s):

1.0, 3.0, 4.0, 5.0 and 6.0

Type: Presentation
Groupwork: Group, group assessed
Weight: 30%
Length:

The infographic submitted by each pair, is to be one A4 page in size with minimum font size of 10 point, provided in PDF format.

Criteria:

Assessment criteria include:

  • Accuracy: are sources cited and credible?
  • Graphic design: are elements clear and readable? Does the colour scheme work?
  • Visual engagement: is the message clear?

Assessment task 3: Oceanographic publication

Intent:

This assessment task contributes to the development of the following Science Faculty graduate

attributes:

1. Disciplinary knowledge and its appropriate application

2. An enquiry-oriented approach

3. Professional skills and their appropriate application

6. Communication skills

Objective(s):

This assessment task addresses subject learning objective(s):

2, 4, 6, 7 and 8

This assessment task contributes to the development of course intended learning outcome(s):

1.0, 2.0, 3.0 and 6.0

Type: Report
Groupwork: Group, individually assessed
Weight: 40%
Criteria:

Full marking rubric available from week 1 on UTS Online.

Required texts

Essentials of Oceanography 8th Edition, Tom S. Garrison and Robert Ellis; ISBN: 9781337098649
Available from CengageBrain; select e-book option.
https://www.cengagebrain.com.au/shop/search/9781337098649