Tropical Marine Systems

The details
Life Sciences (School of)
Colchester Campus
Postgraduate: Level 7
Thursday 03 October 2024
Friday 13 December 2024
16 August 2023


Requisites for this module


BS710, BS711

Key module for

MSC C16112 Tropical Marine Biology,
MPHDC16148 Tropical Marine Biology,
MPHDC16184 Tropical Marine Biology,
PHD C16148 Tropical Marine Biology,
PHD C16184 Tropical Marine Biology,
MSCIB097 Tropical Marine Biology,
MSCIBA97 Tropical Marine Biology (Including Placement Year),
MSCIBB97 Tropical Marine Biology (Including Year Abroad)

Module description

This module will cover the four main tropical habitats coral reefs, tropical oceans, seagrass beds, and mangrove systems.

Each section is illustrated with suitable case studies and considers long-term monitoring data that highlights the historical and more recent changes in the taxonomic composition and productivity of these systems.

Module aims

The aim of this module is:

  • To provide a thorough grounding in tropical marine systems, including the diversity of organisms that exist and the roles they play as well as the fundamental biological processes that enable these organisms to thrive.

Module learning outcomes

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

  1. Describe the taxonomic and functional diversity of tropical marine organisms.

  2. Discuss the effects of physiochemical characteristics and processes on the distribution, abundance and productivity of tropical marine organisms.

  3. Discuss the role of tropical marine systems in biogeochemical cycles.

  4. Analyse the effect of historical and recent global change on biological processes.

  5. Discuss the impact of invasive species on the composition and functioning of tropical marine ecosystems.

  6. Explain the role of symbiotic relationships within tropical marine food webs.

  7. Show competence in retrieving relevant information from diverse sources and interpreting scientific data.

Skills for your Professional Life (Transferable Skills)

By the end of this module, students will be expected to have developed the following transferable skills:

  1. Demonstrate competence in written communication and information retrieval.

  2. Identify, interpret and synthesise important information from scientific papers.

  3. Formulate a valid scientific opinion and openly discuss this opinion within a formal and informal setting.

Module information

This module aims to widen the understanding of some of the key functional roles of photosynthetic producers (corals, algae, cyanobacteria, plants) and heterotrophic consumers (planktonic, benthic and pelagic invertebrates and vertebrates).

The module will assist with developing the skills necessary to evaluate ecological and biogeochemical processes within tropical marine systems and their productivity, connectivity and resilience.

The module will also provide some of the knowledge needed to assess the environmental implications of impacts and stresses at different spatial and temporal scales. Key skills of accessing and interpreting scientific publications will be developed throughout the module to aid the development of individual scientific opinion and thereby facilitate formal and informal scientific discussion within classes.

Learning and teaching methods

This module will be delivered via:

  • Thirty 1-hour lectures.


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   Moodle Quiz 1 - Deadline Only - Do Not Submit On FASER    10% 
Coursework   Scientific Paper Review    40% 
Coursework   Moodle Quiz 2 - Deadline Only - Do Not Submit On FASER    10% 
Coursework   Research Review    40% 

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
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Prof David Smith, email:
Prof David Smith, Dr Gerrit Nanninga and Dr Michael Steinke
School Graduate Office, email: bsgradtaught (Non essex users should add to create a full email address)



External examiner

Dr Sebastian Hennige
Available via Moodle
Of 254 hours, 0 (0%) hours available to students:
254 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s).


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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