University of Technology Sydney

91146 Topics in Australian Marine Science

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

There are course requisites for this subject. See access conditions.


This subject introduces students to current research undertaken in the various disciplines of marine science in Australia. It is a multi-institutional subject taught at the Sydney Institute of Marine Science (SIMS) with contributions from four partner universities (UTS, UNSW, USyd, and Macquarie). Students are able to take advantage of the newly built (as of 2011) facilities at SIMS, and its more than 80 associate scientists. Lectures and tutorials are taught by leading marine science researchers. The SIMS partnership provides a breadth of expertise that would not be achieved by any institution in isolation. Topics cover physical and biological oceanography, green engineering, fisheries management, marine biology and ecology. In practical classes, students analyse and interpret remotely-sensed data from the Integrated Marine Observing System (IMOS), which provides comprehensive information on the biological and physical processes of Australia's coastal and oceanic waters.

Subject learning objectives (SLOs)

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

1. Explain the most important issues the coastal and marine environment are faced with and the role of marine science in addressing these issues, and identify key stakeholders in marine and coastal management.
2. Identify the diversity of data and instrumentation for data collection available from the Integrated Marine Observing System (IMOS).
3. independently formulate and evaluate an hypothesis
4. use software programs such as Access, Matlab and/or R.
5. conduct a thorough statistical analysis of large datasets including modelling
6. present and visualise data and write a succinct scientific report
7. Be competent in basic data management using software programs such as Excel, R and online data visualisation tools

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)
  • 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 subject addresses the following graduate attributes of the Faculty of Science to a greater or lesser extent:

GA1: Disciplinary knowledge

a) In lectures and tutorials, you will hear talks from and discuss with scientific researchers real-life research experiences in a range of marine science disciplines.

Learning is assessed through an end of semester exam.

b) This subject revolves around developing skills in research, experimental design, and the interpretation and assessment of data from various disciplines. This will equip you to enter a rapidly evolving marine science environment, where multidisciplinary skills are becoming increasingly important. The multidisciplinary basis of the subject means that graduates will be able to draw connections across broad fields of knowledge and relate their knowledge to complex situations in order to diagnose and solve problems in the marine environment.

The advantages and challenges associated with interdisciplinary research in marine science are addressed in a set of guided exercises in the practical classes and learning will be assessed through the submission of written practical exercises.

GA2: Research, inquiry and critical thinking.

a) This subject focuses on reasoning, questioning and analysing in the context of complex, real-life datasets. Training in handling these complex datasets will help students to critique constraints, assumptions and limitations within experimental systems and field-based data collection systems. It will also help them to think independently and systemically in relation to research activity. The breadth of disciplines represented in the subject means that students will learn to integrate and synthesize knowledge from a range of sources and environments.

The process of formulating and successfully testing a scientific hypothesis is learned through the practice of guided exercises of increasing that is assessed as part of the practical exercises.

GA3: Professional, ethical and social responsibility.

a) Scientific inquiry, hypothesis testing and critical evaluation of results through the consultation of primary literature are practiced, learned and assessed via a series of exercises in practical classes.

b) Data handling are practiced through collecting, formatting and manipulating data from on online-database and learning is assessed by an exercise requiring students to extract data from the IMOS database and present it in a report.

c) Personal organisational skills are practiced and assessed via the timely submission of IMOS database exercise and reports of the practical exercises.

GA5: Communication

Substantial components of the subject are also designed to help you develop effective written communication skills in terms of effectively describing their research results. Written communication skills are assessed through a number of assignments: the IMOS database exercise.

Teaching and learning strategies

The subject is run by several institutions, there are some key aspects that will be commonly used in teaching and learning. Preparation before the classroom using online material is compulsory, you will use this knowledge to interact in the classroom.

you will work in groups and collaborate in a wide range of tasks such as data interpretation. Feedback will be provided from the first class across the entire 12 week session. Formative and summative, verbal and written, by lecturers, tutors and also peers.

The emphasis of 91146 Topics in Australian Marine Science lies on the practical component where you will work through exercises in five prac modules to gain confidence in testing hypotheses, managing and analysing large data sets from various disciplines and critically evaluate their results.

In addition you will learn about current issues in marine science through a weekly seminar series. The seminar series is built around the most current research questions in Australian marine science. Scientists from a number of disciplines will present their research and the most important research questions in their field in a 1 hour seminar. Seminar topics cover physical and biological oceanography, climate change, molecular ecology, aquaculture, marine biology and marine geosciences. The seminar series provides you with the opportunity to meet and network with leading experts in these topics. The seminars provide background to and compliment the practical sessions.

You will be required to conduct some background reading as preparation for the tutorial and practical classes. There is a lot of data manipulation during the practical components of this course. You are expected to have a sound knowledge of how to sort and manipulate data in Excel. Tutorials are made available for you to carry out prior to class if you need to revise or improve these skills. Background reading is made available to you prior to class, but there are pre-learning activities.

You will attend weekly 3 hour practical sessions that are led by experts in the field. You will work with real datasets using professional software to answer relevant marine science questions. The practical classes introduce students to the IMOS – Australia’s Integrated Marine Observing System, a national infrastructure facility that collects marine data from Australia’s coasts and oceans. These data are made publicly available and used by scientists to explore and monitor biological and oceanographic processes in the coastal and marine environment. In practical classes, you will analyse and interpret remotely-sensed data from IMOS, which provides comprehensive information on the biological and physical processes of Australia’s coastal and oceanic waters. The practicals are taught in a group environment and skills developed during practical sessions will be directly transferable to the workplace and professional practice.

Content (topics)

This subject represents an opportunity for you to be exposed to cutting-edge marine science that is being undertaken in Australia. The lecture series will include every year some of the best SIMS scientists from all institutions involved; academic scholarship and lifelong learning through discussion will be achieved. The lectures will also be held by international academics visiting SIMS any given year. This will contribute to the global citizenship of the students by putting them in contact with world experts in marine science.

The practical component will be based on one of the most ambitious marine programs in Australia, the Integrated Marine Observation System (IMOS), which will allow you to learn how to obtain data and how to process it. You will learn to use the information available to create new knowledge. Real life examples using IMOS data will be used for the practical component so graduates will be encouraged to think independently and take on real-life challenges. The program will emphasize the sustainability of appropriate management of marine resources so the graduates acquire ethical, social and professional values. The proposed program will provide you with skills to communicate effectively both in scientific and managerial situations.

The subject will include exercises involving the analysis and interpretation of data from IMOS. This will expose you to cutting edge technologies for data collection, dissemination and analysis. The process is organised to encourage student-centred learning in a series of highly structured exercises. It also introduces an innovative pedagogy by employing the frontier technologies of IMOS as a teaching tool. You will be guided through this process in weekly three-hour laboratory classes designed and taught by IMOS staff. These workshops will take you through the infrastructure required for data collection (remote sensing equipment, acoustic arrays, autonomous underwater vehicles, ocean gliders, high frequency coastal radar etc), experimental design and data collection paradigms, and the practicalities of arraying extremely large datasets in an accessible format. As such, this subject will equip you with the relevant skills to solve present-day issues concerning the marine environment.


Assessment task 1: Practical exercises


This assessment task assesses the following graduate attributes:

1.Disciplinary Knowledge.

2.Research, inquiry and critical thinking.

3.Professional, ethical and social responsibility.



This assessment task addresses subject learning objective(s):

2, 4, 5, 6 and 7

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

.1.0, .2.0, .3.0 and .6.0

Type: Quiz/test
Groupwork: Individual
Weight: 60%

The following criteria will be used to assess this task. More details will be provided in class.

  • Correctness of answers
  • Evidence of critical thinking
  • Correct use of software
  • Correct application of data
  • Clarity of answers

Type: Practical reports

Assessment task 2: Exam


This assessment task assesses the following graduate attributes:

  1. This assessment task assesses the following graduate attributes:

    1.Disciplinary Knowledge.

    2.Research, inquiry and critical thinking.


TYPE: Final Exam


This assessment task addresses subject learning objective(s):

1, 2 and 3

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

.1.0, .2.0 and .6.0

Type: Examination
Groupwork: Individual
Weight: 40%
  • Correctness of answers
  • Evidence of critical thinking and reasoning
  • open book

Minimum requirements

As a minimum requirement to pass this subject, students must complete and submit ALL assessment tasks, and achieve a total of no less than 50% for the subject.

Students are required to gain at least 40% of the mark for exam. If 40% is not reached, an X grade fail may be awarded for the subject, irrespective of an overall mark greater than 50.

Required texts

There is no prescribed textbook for this subject. References to original readings will be provided by lecturers for each seminar.

Recommended texts


References will be provided by lecturers for each seminar.

Other resources

A prac manual will be provided.