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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Geosciences : Postgraduate Courses (School of GeoSciences)

Postgraduate Course: Corals in a Changing Ocean (PGGE11231)

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 course explores the science, policy and practice of studying, managing, and conserving coral ecosystems in the face of a rapidly changing global climate and in the ways in which humans exploit the ocean. To explore this, the course uses corals as model systems: the ecosystem services provided by coral reefs, gardens and mounds are vast, beyond just the purely aesthetic value the public usually associates with them. Corals are also natural ┐proxies┐ for past environmental conditions, so studying them helps us understand how climate change may threaten these ecosystems alongside the myriad of ways in which humans exploit corals and the habitats they form. Corals in a Changing Ocean first grounds students with foundations in coral biology and physiology and then relates these to how coral ecosystems have changed in the geological past in order to forecast what will happen to corals in the future. The course provides knowledge of the conservation and management frameworks and tools in place to conserve coral ecosystems, including policies implemented at national and international levels such as the United Nations, inclusive of human and social dimensions of managing ecosystems in a changing ocean.
Course description The Corals in a Changing Ocean course has 3 main elements:

i. A weekly lecture: every Tuesday, a Course Lecturer will give talks on a range of subjects to give the student the breadth of knowledge needed to understand corals as model organisms, their geological development and use as environmental archives (┐proxies┐), threats from climate change and human pressures, and conservation management. Outside guest lecturers may also be scheduled to reflect the latest advances in a topic.

ii. Interactive tutorial sessions: Some lectures will be followed by practical tutorials on a range of subjects to give the student an in-depth practical skill base across a range of skills needed to study and manage coral ecosystems. These include: coral and reef fish ID, transects and quadrats, computer image analysis and laboratory methods, all of which are planned to complement the lectures and provide skill-based learning.

iii. Class activity and report: The knowledge base and skills developed during the first 8 lectures help prepare the class for a real-world governance process in managing ecosystems in a changing ocean, a Parliamentary Select Committee. In the UK, the Science and Technology Committee (STC) helps ensure that UK government policy and decision-making are based on robust scientific advice and evidence. In Week 8, each student will be given a role in the STC, either as a Member of Parliament (MP) or as a witness. MPs and witnesses prepare White Papers and Briefings, respectively, to support their case, and all students will role-play to present his or her own White Paper or Briefing in Week 11.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2018/19, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  40
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 24, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 3, Supervised Practical/Workshop/Studio Hours 3, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 166 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 70 %, Practical Exam 30 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Coursework: 100%
Practical assessment (role playing activity): 30%
Report (following role playing activity): 70%
Feedback Feedback given for all coursework.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Understand how corals evolved, grow and how they can be used to reconstruct climate and physical environment
  2. Design experiments to assess coral health
  3. ┐ understand the ecosystem services and goods provided by corals and threats posed by human activities
  4. Recognise potenital sectoral threats to corals and their ecosystems
  5. Identify key policy agreements (binding and non-binding) to protect corals in the tropics and deep sea
Reading List
1. Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (2014). An Updated Synthesis of the Impacts of Ocean Acidification on Marine Biodiversity (Eds: S. Hennige, J.M. Roberts & P. Williamson). Montreal, Technical Series No. 75, 99 pages
2. Rachel Wood. Reef Evolution.Oxford University Press
3. Murray Roberts et al. Cold Water Corals. The biology and geography of deep sea coral habitats. Cambridge University Press
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Graduates will gain a deeper understanding of the geology, biology and ecology of corals and the ecosystems they create, and the environmental and societal implications of how climate change and human activities impact these ecosystems. Skills attained will include applied scientific methods for assessing coral health and habitats; critical thinking in approaches to policy and management relevant to corals and changing oceans.
KeywordsCorals,Climate Change,Changing Oceans
Course organiserProf Murray Roberts
Tel: (0131 6)50 5091
Course secretaryMs Heather Dyson
Tel: (0131 6)51 7126
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