Marine Biodiversity

The details
Life Sciences (School of)
Colchester Campus
Undergraduate: Level 5
Thursday 03 October 2024
Friday 13 December 2024
04 July 2024


Requisites for this module


BS303, BS417

Key module for

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

This module will introduce some key topics in marine biodiversity including methods of assessing marine biodiversity, distribution of species in space and time, maintenance of marine biodiversity, and regulation of populations.

The module also introduces key marine taxa. Selected examples will focus on adaptations in planktonic organisms, biodiversity hot-spots such as coral reefs and explore disturbance and succession. The self learning component investigates the utility of nucleotide databases for reference RNA and environmental metagenomes in biodiversity research. Two practicals will examine the biodiversity in muddy and sandy shores, and the morphological and genetic diversity in marine amphipods.

Module aims

The aim of this module is:

  • to introduce key topics in marine biodiversity

Module learning outcomes

By the end of this module, students will be expected to be able to:

  1. Describe the key methods in assessing marine biodiversity

  2. Explain the patterns of diversity in marine systems, considering gradients of diversity on global scales, with depth in the oceans and through evolutionary time

  3. Explain the mechanisms that generate and maintain patterns of diversity

  4. Show competence in retrieving relevant information from diverse sources, interpreting scientific data and demonstrate ability to organize and execute a self-learning task

  5. Demonstrate competence in written communication and information retrieval

  6. Demonstrate competence in data presentation, analysis and interpretation, numeracy, information retrieval and written communication

Module information

No additional information available.

Learning and teaching methods

This module will be delivered via:

  • 20 x 1 hour lectures (including 1 on directed learning material and 1 or more covering DAI material)
  • plus 1 revision class before summer exam.

There will be a total of 2 practicals: the first will run over two days (4 + 3 hours), the second is scheduled to run for 3 hours.


The above list is indicative of the essential reading for the course.
The library makes provision for all reading list items, with digital provision where possible, and these resources are shared between students.
Further reading can be obtained from this module's reading list.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Coursework weighting
Coursework   Prac 1 - SPF Results     100% 
Exam  Main exam: In-Person, Open Book (Restricted), 120 minutes during Summer (Main Period) 
Exam  Reassessment Main exam: In-Person, Open Book (Restricted), 120 minutes during September (Reassessment Period) 

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
50% 50%


Coursework Exam
50% 50%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Dr Boyd McKew, email:
Dr Chris Mackin
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 38 hours, 21 (55.3%) 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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