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

Postgraduate Course: Marine Field Methods in Research and Practice (PGGE11202)

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
SummaryThis field course will be focussed on coral reef and atoll island habitats around two divergent environments in the Maldives. In addition, we will spend a brief time on the densely populated atoll island capital to allow discussion on the pressures and contrasts between densely populated cities and more remote islands. The expedition will commence on Dhigurah, an eco-tourism centre and Marine Protected Area, before heading to a research station at Magoodhoo.

In order to get the most out of the fieldtrip, it is important to prepare ahead of time so that you arrive in the Maldives with a good general knowledge of the setting, the main issues, and some ideas about how to design experiments to help quantify important processes. Part of this will be covered through the 'Corals in a Changing Ocean Course' and will be explored more in the pre-trip assignment. In addition, we will provide targeted lectures on October 5th and Nov 23rd and access (via LEARN) to papers and other materials that give more detail on the nature of our fieldwork activities and on the techniques that we will adopt for our time on the fieldcourse.

The objectives of this course are as follows:

- Introduce you to coral reef environments, in particular atoll reef systems. Coral reefs are amongst the most complex, biologically diverse and economically and ecologically valuable ecosystems on Earth. Atolls are unique low-lying systems with pressures that differ from reefs adjacent to high island systems. However, in many locations around the world, including the Maldives, the reefs have undergone profound changes over recent decades due to complex interactions between human activities and natural processes.
- In this complex setting, we will show you how to design and execute simple experiments to obtain quantitative estimates of key stressors on the reefs, e.g. impact of developments and environmental pressures.
- Introduce you to methods for biological surveying to explore relationships between organisms and each other and their wider environment, including mobile and sessile (benthic) organisms in different substrates and water conditions, over space and time, and how to go about interpreting these results in terms of tropic dynamics, and likely cause and effect of dominating ecological dynamics.
- Introduce you to observing and interpreting various socio-economic and cultural dynamics of the Maldives in two contrasting island settings; Dhiggurah and Magoodhoo.
Course description The Marine Methods in Research and Practice course has 4 main elements:

1. Pre-trip lectures and report. There will be 2 pre-trip lectures introducing the islands we will be visiting, the pressures on them (socio and environmental), and how we will be assessing these. This will be complemented by a pre-trip report.

2. On site lectures and activities: There will be daily lectures by academic staff and also NGO staff on Dhigurah, followed by activities in the water (e.g. coral surveys) or on land (e.g. social surveys).

3. Research projects and presentations: Following lectures and exposure to a variety of topics and techniques, you will select a topic to do a short project on, including designing your research, undertaking it, and preparing a presentation on it.

4. Field notebooks and report: During the course, you will learn to keep a field notebook, a crucial part of any research project. Once projects are started, this notebook will form a key part of your research, and will be assessed along with the project report.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed:
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Additional Costs Covered by tuition for those on the MSc in Marine Systems and Policy
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2018/19, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  None
Course Start Semester 2
Course Start Date 14/01/2019
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Please contact the School directly for a breakdown of Learning and Teaching Activities
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Assessments:

1 - Pre-trip inception report (20%)
2 - Group projects and presentations (20%)
3 - Individual Field Observations Notebooks (20%)
4 - Individual project report (40%)

Note: the marks for the Field Notebooks and the Final Research Project Paper will be combined to give a total of 60% of the Course.
Feedback Not entered
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Design surveys and experiments to assess the health of coral reefs
  2. Recognise the signs of anthropogenic and environmenal stressors on coral reefs
  3. Have a greater understanding of the socio-cultural relationship of local people with their coral reefs
  4. Have a greater understanding of how ecotourism can impact upon local communities and the reef
  5. Be able to develop and demonstrate leadership and participation in group research, discussions, and team based oral presentations.
Reading List
These are some starter papers for the pre-trip report and background reading.

CBD NR - Maldives 2015. Maldives 5th National Report to the Convention on Biological Diversity.Access via:

Jaleel, 2013. Ocean and Coastal Management, The status of the coral reefs and the management approaches: The case of the Maldives. Vol 82, 104-118.

Donner, S. D., & Webber, S. (2014). Obstacles to climate change adaptation decisions: a case study of sea-level rise and coastal protection measures in Kiribati. Sustainability Science, 9(3), 331-345.

Hennige S.J., Burdett H.L.,Perna G., Tudhope A.W., Kamenos N.A. (2017) The potential for coral reef establishment through free-living stabilisation. Scientific Reports. 13322

Hughes et al. 2017. Global warming and recurrent mass bleaching of corals. Nature 543:373┐377.

Kamenos NA, Hennige SJ (2018). Reconstructing four centuries of temperature-induced coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef. Front. Mar. Sci. | doi: 10.3389/fmars.2018.00283

Owen SD, Kench PS, Ford, M. 2016. Improving understanding of the spatial dimensions of biophysical change in atoll island countries and implications for island communities: A Marshall Islands┐ case study. Applied Geography 72 (2016) 55-64.

Perry CT, Kench PS, O┐Leary MJ, Morgan KM, Januchowski-Hartley F., 2015. Linking reef ecology to island building: Parrotfish identified as major producers of island-building sediment in the Maldives. GEOLOGY. doi:10.1130/G36623.1

Perry CT et al. Loss of coral reef growth capacity to track future increases in sea level. Nature volume 558, pages396┐400 (2018)


Thornton, T. F., & Scheer, A. M. (2012). Collaborative engagement of local and traditional knowledge and science in marine environments: a review. Ecology and Society, 17(3), 8.

Woodruff, 2008. Global and Planetary Change, Reef-island topography and the vulnerability of atolls to sea-level rise. Vol 62, pp 77-96.

Yamamoto and Esteban, 2010. Ocean and Coastal Management, Vanishing Island States and sovereignty. Vol 53, pp 1-9.

Yamamoto L, Esteban M. (2017). Migration as an Adaptation Strategy for Atoll Island States. International Migration 1-15. doi: 10.1111/imig.12318

Zubair et al, 2011. Tourism Management. Not quite paradise: Inadequacies of environmental impact assessment in the Maldives. Vol 32 (2011) 225-234

Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Students will acquire and develop the following transferable skills:
1. Assessment of typical coastal marine nearshore settings as land-sea seascape interface;
2. To participate in individual and team activities toward the completion of assignments and goals.
3. Critical thinking with regard to the evaluation of sources of information, the feasibility of management options and interpretation of outcomes.
Additional Class Delivery Information Field course locations may change for a variety of reasons, including security risks, increased costs or inability to access field locations. Any changes to the main destination of the field course will be announced as soon as possible.
KeywordsQuantitative ecological and reef geomorphology ecosystems and techniques,coastal marine habitats
Course organiserDr Sebastian Hennige
Tel: (0131 6)50 5410
Course secretaryMs Heather Dyson
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