University Homepage
DRPS Homepage
DRPS Search
DRPS Contact
DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Geosciences : Postgraduate Courses (School of GeoSciences)

Postgraduate Course: Marine Systems and Policies (PGGE11186)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Geosciences CollegeCollege of Science and Engineering
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryMarine (coastal and ocean) environments are fundamental features of the Earth system that are profoundly influenced by human interactions. As these ecosystems are trans-boundary and multi-dimensional the policy instruments governing the utilization of coastal ocean systems are complex. However, policies, laws and regulations are often disconnected to the scale and dynamics of targeted ecosystems and species in both time and space (e.g. oceanographic processes, migratory species, multi-site life stages). Many global to local scale policies can be more effective, support deeper understanding of ecosystem processes, and take into account cumulative impacts of social pressures and environmental change, when viewed through an ecosystem lens from the past and looking ahead. Additionally, as technology advances, human population increases and energy demands combine to extend the horizons of marine exploration and exploitation further offshore, a robust understanding of policies impacts and ecology responses in coastal-ocean realms is increasingly vital.

This course uses case studies to gain an understanding of marine conservation measure and spatial planning to explore linkages between different scales of coastal-ocean ecosystem processes and ecological dynamics in connection with applicable scales of policy instruments (e.g. Law of the Sea, Convention of Biodiversity, UNESCO World Heritage; regional conventions; Local codes and policies framed around fishing regulations, coastal zoning, and traditional knowlege). Diverse case studies across a range of biomes, scales, and issues are considered to examine and test the suitability of different policies for different ecosystem scales, environmental issues and socio-cultural contexts. Examples of case study scales include: Archipelagos and Islands, Estuaries, Semi-enclosed Seas, Continental Margins, Polar Seas, and Global Oceans.

While most courses in GeoSciences are terrestrial in orientation, this course is focuses on marine ecosystems, issues and policies in an integrated way that provides foundational learning for critical analysis of marine environments and human impacts. This course will help prepare students for positions in governments, NGOs, environmental consultancies and private enterprise requiring competency at the science-policy interface.
(Note: This course is co-taught as a 20c course for (PGT only) and 10c for a small number of fourth year Env GeoScience and Ecology, with joint lecture sessions. The PGT 20c has additional discussion groups and journal response assignments. Group Presentations will be presented by both 10c and 20c groupings, with all attending. Both 10c and 20c will have individual policy position papers.)
Course description The first part of the course has lectures on different marine biomes, followed by exemplary case studies from academic staff and guest lectures from government and NGO organizations. Together these illustrate a range of issues and societal contexts through which different policies will be examined. Building on lectures and case studies, students will conduct their own case-study policy analysis though group presentations and an individual essay. (NOTE THE LECTURE/TOPIC ORDER MAY BE REVISED TO ACCOMMODATE GUEST SPEAKER SCHEDULES)

Week 1 | 21 Sept: Course overview, goals and organization
Week 2 | 28 Sept: Archipelagos, Atolls and Islands Biome
Week 3 | 5 Oct: Continental Margins and Shelves Biome
Week 4 | 12 Oct: Transboundary Shorelines Biome
Week 5 | 19 Oct: Estuaries, Bays and Semi-enclosed Seas Biome and Policy Paper & Group Presentation Tutorial
Week 6 | 26 Oct: Polar Seas Biome
Week 7 | 2 Nov: Global Oceans
Week 8 | 9 Nov UG and PGT Group Presentations
Week 9 | 16 Nov: PGT Group Presentations Continued.
Week 10 | 23 Nov: No class. Marine Policy Papers Writing Week.
Week 11 | 30 Dec: Policy Paper Abstracts Symposia - 3 minute flash talks on individual policy papers.

Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2016/17, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  27
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 33, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 163 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) The course is assessed entirely by coursework (100%). No examination will be held. (Only activities 1, 3, and 5 listed below are marked.) All written exercises must be via hard-copy in class and electronic via LEARN by midnight the day before class. Detailed guidance for the Journal Responses, Case Study Presentations, and individual Policy Papers will be provided during the course. (NB Due dates are indicated in the week-by-week Course Description section above.)

1. JOURNAL RESPONSES (20% total mark): Discussion group participation and 4 x written journal responses. The responses will be 500 words only. They will provide a critical, objective response to a posed question and and different 'identities/role play; each week (e.g. NGO, developer, government, fisher). Your response will drawing upon the core and additional readings on the biome and case study lectures planned for respective weeks. The 1st response is experimental and not marked, the other 3 are marked (= 6.66% per JR response).
- PGT Journal Response 1 (not marked) Due on LEARN 12:00 NOON (Tues, 27 Sept)
- PGT Journal Response 2 Due on LEARN 12:00 NOON (Fri, 07 Oct)
- PGT Journal Response 3 Due on LEARN 12:00 NOON (Tues, 11 Oct)
- PGT Journal Response 4 Due on LEARN 12:00 NOON (Tues, 18 Oct)

2. POLICY PAPER ABSTRACT (not marked): For the end of the course, you will have researched and write a policy paper, on a of of your choice, illustrating features a key biome, environmental issue, and policy challenge and solution that you personally want to focus on. In advance, you will provide a 300 word draft abstract of your planned policy paper case study, which is not assessed, and for feedback only.
- Due on LEARN 12:00 NOON (Tues, 25 Oct)

3. GROUP PRESENTATIONS (20% total mark): 100% of total is group mark.
You will be randomly assigned a 'biome' and group to work with to prepare a presentation that combines the features of the biome, environmental issue, and policy challenge and solution.
- 1st Round PGT Presentations Due on LEARN 12:00 NOON (Tues, 08 Nov)
- 2nd Round PGT Presentations, Due on LEARN 12:00 NOON (Tues, 15 Nov)

4. INDIVIDUAL POLICY PAPERS (60% total mark)
You will research and write a policy paper, on a of of your choice, illustrating features a key biome, environmental issue, and policy challenge and solution that you personally want to focus on. This will be 2500 words max (main text, excluding references).
- UG Policy Papers due on LEARN 12:00 NOON (Tues, 22 Nov)
- PGT Policy Papers due on LEARN 12:00 NOON (Tues, 29 Nov)

5. ABSTRACTS SYMPOSIA (not marked): For the final class you give a 3 minute flash presentations on your individual policy papers. The abstracts from your paper and 1 photo will be compiled into a 'take-away' Abstracts Booklet from the class.
- Photo and Abstracts are also due LEARN 12:00 NOON (Mon, 28 Nov)
Feedback Not entered
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Understand coastal-marine ecosystem processes with regard to the inter-dynamics of different scales and human dimensions and drivers of environmental change.
  2. Be familiar with a array of conservation pathways and scenarios for recovery, e.g. habitat conservation and restoration.
  3. Be familiar with examples of key national and international marine conservation policies.
  4. Conduct reviews of key literature and policies, developing the capacity to conduct policy analysis and solutions for different settings and scales, resulting in a formal policy paper.
  5. Be able to develop and demonstrate leadership and participation in group discussions, and team based oral presentations.
Reading List
Indicative Reading List:
For our guides along the way, we will be using: Marine Ecology: Processes, Systems, and Impacts, 2nd ed., by Michel Kaiser, et al. While this text book is not required, it is highly recommended and some copies will likely be available in the main Central Library and the KB Library, and for purchase from a bookstore of your choice (e.g. Blackwells in Edinburgh, Amazon etc). We also utilize relevant chapters from the 2014 Fifth Assessment Report of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change). While the textbook provides an ongoing and consistent backdrop to the course, we primarily use engage with a preliminary set of core readings from academic journal articles as indicated below. In addition, we will provide further topical readings on the different biomes and case studies along the way, building a 'marine library' for your use in this class and beyond.

The indicated readings for each week are listed below and will be available online or via LEARN.

Week 1. Coastal-ocean diversity in the context of science, policy and management.
- Textbook - Marine Ecology, Ch. 16, pp. 429-449.
- IPCC AR5, 2013. Working Group II (Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability). (via: (Selected chapters during the class.)
- IOC UNESCO, IMO, FAO, UNDP (2011). A Blueprint for Ocean and Coastal Sustainability.
- UN Sustainable Development Goals - SDG No. 14 - Life Under Water
- Palumbi, S.R. et. al., 2009. Managing for ocean biodiversity to sustain marine ecosystem services. Frontiers in Ecology 7(4):204-211.
- Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, et al The Impact of Climate Change on the World's Marine Ecosystems. Science 328, 1523 (2010); DOI: 10.1126/science.1189930
- Charles, A. 2012. People, oceans and scale: governance, livelihoods and climate change adaptation in marine social-ecological systems. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability. Vol 4: 351-357.

Week 2. Archipelagos, Atolls and Islands Biome
- Textbook - Marine Ecology, Ch. 11, pp. 305-324.
- Riegl, B. et al., 2009. Coral reefs: threats and conservation in an era of global change. The Year in Ecology and Conservation Biology, Ann. N.Y. Acad. Sci. 1162:136-186.
- Nurse, LA et al., 2014. Small islands. In: Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability. Part B: Regional Aspects. f Working Group II to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA, pp. 1613-1654.
- Woodruff, C.D., 2008. Reef-island topography and the vulnerability of atolls to sea-level rise. Global and Planetary Change 62 (2008) 77-96.
- Rocliffe, et al, 2014. Towards A Network of Locally Managed Marine Areas (LMMAs) in the Western Indian Ocean. PLOS ONE Vol 9, Issue 7, e103000
- Foale, S. et. al. 2011. Tenure and taboos: origins and implications for fisheries in the Pacific. Fish and Fisheries, 12, 357-369.
- Donner and Webber, 2014. Obstacles to climate change adaptation decisions: a case study of SLR and coastal protection in Kiribati. Sustain Sci 9:331-345 DOI 10.1007/s11625-014-0242-z
- Yamamoto, L. and, Miguel Esteban, M. 2010. Vanishing Island States and sovereignty. Ocean & Coastal Management 53 (2010) 1-9.

Week 3. Continental Margins and Shelves Biome
- Textbook - Marine Ecology, Ch. 8, pp. 217-250.
- Levin, L. A. and Sibuet, M., 2012. Understanding Continental Margin Biodiversity: A New Imperative. Annual Review Marine Science 2012. 4:8.1- 8.34
- Armstrong C.W., et. al., 2012. Services from the deep: steps towards valuation of deep sea goods and services. Ecosystem Services 2 (2012) 2-13.
- Roberts, et. al., 2006. Reefs of the Deep: The Biology and Geology of Cold-Water Coral Ecosystems. Science Vol 312 (543-547)

Week 4. Transboundary Shorelines
- Textbook - Marine Ecology, Ch. 13, pp. 357-376.
- Mills, et al, 2015. Real-world progress in overcoming the challenges of adaptive spatial planning in marine protected areas. Biological Conservation, Vol 181, Pages 54-63
- Dayton, P.K., M.J. Tegner, P.B. Edwards, and K.L. Riser (1998). Sliding Baselines, Ghosts, and Reduced Expectations in Kelp Forest Communities. Ecol. Appl., 8(2):309-322.
- Fernandes, et al, 2005. Establishing Representative No-Take Areas in the Great Barrier Reef: Large-Scale Implementation of Theory on Marine Protected Areas. Conservation Biology, Volume 19, Issue 6, Pages 1733-1744

Week 5. Estuaries and Semi-enclosed Seas
- Textbook - Marine Ecology, Ch. 5, pp. 143-171, and Ch. 10, pp. 277-304.
- Poh, P.W., et. al., 2014: Coastal systems and low-lying areas, Chapter 5. Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability. Contribution of Working Group II to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change,
- Jackson, J.B.C., et. al., 2001. Historical Overfishing and the Recent Collapse of Coastal Ecosystems. Science VOL 293 27 JULY 2001.
- Lejeusne, C. 2009. Climate change effects on a miniature ocean: the highly diverse, highly impacted Mediterranean Sea. Trends in Ecology and Evolution Vol.25 No.4 (250-260).
- Hughes T.P. et. al., 2013. Living dangerously on borrowed time during slow, unrecognized regime shifts. Trends in Ecology and Evolution Vol 28 no. 3. 149-155.

Week 6. Polar Sea Biome; and Tutorial for Policy Paper and Group Presentation
- Textbook - Marine Ecology, Ch. 12, pp. 325-353.
- IPCC - Larsen, et al, 2014: Chapter 28: Polar regions. In: Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability.
- Schofield, et al 2010. How Do Polar Marine Ecosystems Respond to Rapid Climate Change? SCIENCE, VOL 328 1520-1522
- Dodds K (2010) Governing Antarctica: Contemporary Challenges and the Enduring Legacy of the 1959 Antarctic Treaty, Global Policy Vol.1(1)
- Griffiths HJ (2010) Antarctic Marine Biodiversity - What Do We Know About the Distribution of Life in the Southern Ocean? PLoS ONE 5(8): e11683. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0011683
- Croxall, et al, 2002. Environmental Change and Antarctic Seabird Populations, SCIENCE, VOL 297, 1510-1514

Week 7. Global Oceans
- Textbook - Marine Ecology, Ch. 7, pp. 194-216.
- IPCC - Portner, et al, 2014: Ocean systems. In: Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability. Part A: Global and Sectoral Aspects. Contribution of Working Group II to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
- Sumaliam U.R., et al., 2011. Climate change impacts on the biophysics and economics of world fisheries. Nature Climate Change, Vol 1. 449-456.
- Block, B.A., et al., 2011. Tracking apex marine predator movements in a dynamic ocean. Nature, Vol 475, 86-90.
- Warner, R.M., 2014. Conserving marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction: co-evolution and interaction with the law of the sea. Frontiers in Marine Science, Vol 1, Article 6.
- Wagner, et al, 2013. Big Ocean - A Shared Research Agenda for Large Scale MPAs.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills - Capacity to conduct context based policy analysis to develop solutions for different settings and scales;
- Writing brief critiques and reviews of key literature and policies.
- Leadership and participation in group discussions on complex topics, scientific literature and examples;
- Team based oral presentations and participation in an Abstracts Symposia.
- Researching, constructing and delivering individual white paper, policy brief.
KeywordsMarine,coastal ocean ecosystems; biophysical processes and scales; marine policy and governance; cl
Course organiserDr Meriwether Wilson
Tel: (0131 6)50 4311
Course secretaryMiss Susie Crocker
Tel: (0131 6)51 7126
Help & Information
Search DPTs and Courses
Degree Programmes
Browse DPTs
Humanities and Social Science
Science and Engineering
Medicine and Veterinary Medicine
Other Information
Combined Course Timetable
Important Information
© Copyright 2016 The University of Edinburgh - 3 February 2017 4:55 am