Tropical Marine Systems

The details
Life Sciences (School of)
Colchester Campus
Postgraduate: Level 7
Thursday 06 October 2022
Friday 16 December 2022
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,
MSCIB097 Tropical Marine Biology,
MSCIBA97 Tropical Marine Biology (Including Placement Year),
MSCIBB97 Tropical Marine Biology (Including Year Abroad)

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 a published bibliography for this year.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Coursework weighting
Coursework   Scientific Paper Review  08/11/2022  40% 
Coursework   Moodle Quiz 1  16/11/2022  10% 
Coursework   Moodle Quiz 2  25/11/2022  10% 
Coursework   Research Review  20/01/2023  40% 

Additional coursework information

The biology of coral reefs Book by Charles Sheppard; Simon K. Davy; Graham M. Pilling; Nicholas A. J. Graham 2018 Seagrass ecology: an introduction Book by Marten A. Hemminga; Carlos M. Duarte 2000 The biology of mangroves and seagrasses Book by Peter J. Hogarth 2007

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 Nicholas Kamenos
University of Glasgow
Available via Moodle
Of 16 hours, 16 (100%) hours available to students:
0 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)

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