Marine Ecology

The details
Life Sciences (School of)
Colchester Campus
Undergraduate: Level 4
Thursday 03 October 2024
Friday 13 December 2024
09 February 2024


Requisites for this module


BS257, BS303, BS417

Key module for

BSC C520 Ecology and Environmental Biology,
BSC C521 Ecology and Environmental Biology (Including Foundation Year),
BSC C522 Ecology and Environmental Biology (Including Year Abroad),
BSC C523 Ecology and Environmental Biology (Including Placement Year),
BSC C161 Marine Biology (Including Foundation Year),
BSC C164 Marine Biology,
BSC CC60 Marine Biology (Including Year Abroad),
BSC CC64 Marine Biology (Including Placement Year),
MSCIB097 Tropical Marine Biology,
MSCIBA97 Tropical Marine Biology (Including Placement Year),
MSCIBB97 Tropical Marine Biology (Including Year Abroad)

Module description

The marine realm covers 70% of the Earth`s surface. It contains ice-covered seas and hydrothermal vents, muddy estuaries, deep ocean trenches and the clear blue open sea. The oceans and seas are also integral to the whole earth-ocean-atmosphere system, which controls the climate and conditions for life on Earth. The living, physical and chemical parts of the Earth all interact and influence one another, so that it is impossible to consider one aspect without thinking of the others.

This module describes the different marine environments, the organisms that inhabit them and their ecological interactions, and the physical and chemical conditions that determine the diversity of marine life. It also discusses how human activity is influencing marine ecosystems, through overfishing, pollution, and climate change.

Module aims

The aim of this module is to help you understand and describe the different marine environments, the organisms that inhabit them and their ecological interactions.

Module learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module, students should be able to:

1. describe the major types of marine communities, the major types of organisms that inhabit these communities and the roles that these organisms play in the marine environment;

2. demonstrate an understanding of the physical and chemical characteristics and processes within the marine environment;

3. describe the effects of these physical characteristics and processes on the distribution, abundance and productivity of marine organisms;

4. describe key biogeochemical cycling and their importance in the environment;

5. describe how human activities are affecting the marine environment, both directly and indirectly;

6. demonstrate understanding of key scientific measurement concepts and carry out, analyse and present competently basic aquatic physical, chemical, biological measurements and observations.

Module information

No additional information available.

Learning and teaching methods

Lectures (24 x 1 hour lectures including 1 on directed learning material plus 1 revision class before MCQ and 1 revision class before summer exam; 4 x 3 hour practicals or equivalent)


This module does not appear to have a published bibliography for this year.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Coursework weighting
Coursework   Practical 3 - Assessed for formative purposes only     
Coursework   Practical 4 (B&C)    50% 
Practical   Practical 1 & 2     
Exam  MCQ exam: In-Person, Closed Book, 50 minutes during January 
Exam  Reassessment MCQ exam: In-Person, Closed Book, 50 minutes during September (Reassessment Period) 

Additional coursework information

MCQ Exam: week 15 (33%) and 1 hour Summer Exam: weeks 33-36 (33%). 3 x practicals = 11% each. Practical 1 = week 6 deadline. Practical 2 - week 8, practical 4 - week 8, practical 4 - week 10.

Exam format definitions

  • Remote, open book: Your exam will take place remotely via an online learning platform. You may refer to any physical or electronic materials during the exam.
  • In-person, open book: Your exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer to any physical materials such as paper study notes or a textbook during the exam. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, open book (restricted): The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer only to specific physical materials such as a named textbook during the exam. Permitted materials will be specified by your department. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, closed book: The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may not refer to any physical materials or electronic devices during the exam. There may be times when a paper dictionary, for example, may be permitted in an otherwise closed book exam. Any exceptions will be specified by your department.

Your department will provide further guidance before your exams.

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
60% 40%


Coursework Exam
60% 40%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Dr Michelle Taylor, email:
Dr Michelle Taylor, Dr Amanda Cavanagh, Dr Hannah Epstein, Dr Rob Ferguson and Dr Leanne Hepburn
School Undergraduate Office, email: bsugoffice (Non essex users should add to create the full email address)



External examiner

Prof Edgar Turner
University of Cambridge
Professor of Insect Ecology
Available via Moodle
Of 45 hours, 28 (62.2%) hours available to students:
17 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s), module, or event type.


Further information
Life Sciences (School of)

* Please note: due to differing publication schedules, items marked with an asterisk (*) base their information upon the previous academic year.

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