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Research Cruise

Module titleResearch Cruise
Module codeGEO3463
Academic year2022/3
Module staff

Dr Bob Brewin (Lecturer)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Description - summary of the module content

Module description

This module entails a residential field course in oceanographic sampling. During the course, you will develop the practical and analytical skills required to carry out oceanographic sampling at sea. You will learn about historic and modern instrumentation used to measure the physical, chemical and biological properties of the ocean on a research cruise, how these instruments are prepared before going to sea, and how they are operated and maintained. You will learn how to process oceanographic data collected using the instrumentation and interpret this data in the context of local oceanographic processes. This module is compulsory for students undertaking the BSc in Marine Science. During the module you will have access to marine science lecturers to discuss ideas and learn new skills that maybe useful for your dissertation.

Module aims - intentions of the module

This module provides students with first-hand experience working at sea, operating oceanographic instruments and collecting, processing and analysing oceanographic data. It aims to provide students with knowledge of a range of oceanographic equipment, from historical to modern instruments and platforms, and covering core physical, biological and chemical variables, measured routinely as part of oceanographic research campaigns, and operationally, all around the world. It will provide students with experience designing a sampling strategy and will cover the core requirements of working at sea. The module builds on introductory fieldwork experiences in Stage 1 and 2 and will provide students an opportunity to collect data that maybe useful for their dissertation research projects, and to learn first-hand from active oceanographers, drawing on their own research experience. The module aims will be achieved via staff-supported activities and group work. The skills you gain from fieldwork and team projects at sea will stand you in good stead for a career in marine science, providing you with a range of key skills relevant to employment in marine-based industry and research.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Describe a range of specialised techniques and approaches involved in collecting, processing and analysing oceanographic data.
  • 2. Deploy standard oceanographic equipment at sea with limited guidance.
  • 3. Process and analyse oceanographic data collected using oceanographic equipment.
  • 4. Interpret this oceanographic data at sea in the context of local oceanographic processes.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 5. Identify and implement, with guidance, appropriate methodologies and theories for solving a range of complex problems within marine science
  • 6. Describe and evaluate in detail approaches to our understanding of marine science with reference to primary literature, reviews and research articles
  • 7. With some guidance, deploy established techniques of analysis, practical investigation, and enquiry within marine sciences
  • 8. Identify critical questions from the literature and synthesise research-informed examples from the literature within field-based assignment

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 9. Devise and sustain, with little guidance, a logical and reasoned argument with sound, convincing conclusions
  • 10. Collect and interpret appropriate data and complete research-like tasks, drawing on a range of sources, with limited guidance
  • 11. Analyse and evaluate appropriate data and complete a range of research-like tasks with very limited guidance

Syllabus plan

Syllabus plan

Acknowledging the content may vary from year to year, it is expected that it will cover the following topics:

An introduction to historic and modern instrumentation used to measure key physical, chemical and biological properties of the ocean.

Experience preparing, deploying and operating oceanographic equipment at sea.

Learning how to process oceanographic data.

Learning how to interpret oceanographic data collected in the context of local oceanographic processes.

Learning and teaching

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching 14Teaching (lectures and workshops)
Scheduled Learning and Teaching 8Field practical sessions at sea
Guided independent study 128Additional reading, online exercises, research and preparation for module assessments


Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
ELE short answer questions on asynchronous activities Ongoing throughout module AllOral/ Online

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Practical Report 601700 wordsAllWritten
Group Presentation (groups of 3 students) 4012 minutesAllWritten


Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Practical Report Practical Report (based on data already collected in the field) AllAugust Examination Period
Group Presentation Individual Presentation (recorded, based on data already collected in the field) AllAugust Examination Period

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certified reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 40%) you will be required to complete an additional Practical Report. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of referral will be capped at 40%.


Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

  • Chapman, R. (2004) The Practical Oceanographer – A Guide to Working At-Sea.  

  • Simpson, J. & Sharples, J.â?¯2012. Introduction to the Physical and Biological Oceanography of Shelf Seas. Cambridge University Press. 

  • Hawkins, S. J. et al. 2019. Oceanography and Marine Biology: An Annual Review. CRC Press. 

  • Bowers, D.G. & Thomas, D. 2012. Introducing oceanography. Dunedin Academic Press Ltd. 

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

ELE page:â?¯xxxxxxxx (the ELE page for this module will provide lecture and practical materials, indicative extra reading materials (e.g. journal papers), and feedback forms) 

Module has an active ELE page

Key words search

Oceanography, marine science, field work

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites

GEO1420 Granite LandscapesGEO2447 Isles of Scilly Field Course 

Module co-requisites

Compulsory module for BSc Marine Science 

NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date