Tropical Marine Systems

The details
Life Sciences (School of)
Colchester Campus
Postgraduate: Level 7
Thursday 07 October 2021
Friday 17 December 2021
31 March 2021


Requisites for this module



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

Module description

Lectures 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.

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). It 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.

Module aims

This module aims 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

On successful completion of the module, students will 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;

Employability and Transferable Skills:

Demonstrate competence in written communication and information retrieval.

Identify, interpret and synthesise important information from scientific papers

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

Module information

The School has a policy which ensures all lecturers opt-in to making lectures available via Listen Again. Therefore, in teaching rooms where the facility is available, lectures will be recorded via this service.

Learning and teaching methods

30 x 1 hour lectures


This module does not appear to have any essential texts. To see non-essential items, please refer to the module's reading list.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Weighting
Coursework   Moodle Quiz 1    10% 
Coursework   Scientific Paper Review    40% 
Coursework   Moodle Quiz 2    10% 
Coursework   Research Review    40% 

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Dr Gerrit Nanninga, email:
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 Nicholas Kamenos
University of Glasgow
Available via Moodle
Of 658 hours, 32 (4.9%) hours available to students:
626 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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