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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
SummaryIn this course, we use corals as a focal point to explore how global conventions and other international frameworks help to govern marine biodiversity and human activities in an era of rapid climate change. In doing so, this course covers foundations in both tropical and cold-water (deep-sea) coral biology, ecology, geology, and corals as sentinels of climate change. The course also explores the human dimension: ecosystem services, impacts of human activities, marine protected areas, climate resilience-building approaches, and international policies in place to protect and manage these ecosystems.
Course description Overall, the Corals in a Changing Ocean course has 3 main elements:
i. A weekly lecture: Our lectures will give you the breadth of knowledge needed to understand coral ecosystems as fully socio-ecological systems, their biology, ecology and geological development and use as environmental archives (proxies), threats from climate change and human pressures, governance of key issues and solutions to these challenges. Lectures are done in person and live, and afterwards, we move onto a Class Activity.

ii. Class activity: For Weeks 1 and 10, we have various practical exercises to help consolidate learning and put into practice things we've learned in the lectures, including: coral and coral reef fish identification; coral habitat mapping and analysis; video analysis and annotation; case studies of fisheries management, discussion groups.

iii. Mock Parliamentary Select Committee: The knowledge base and skills developed over Weeks 1-10 will help prepare the class for a real-world governance process in managing coral 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. By Week 7, each student will choose 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, all students will also present their own White Paper or Briefing in Week 11 during a mock Parliamentary Select Committee, with Witnesses submitting their Briefing to MPs by Week 10, and MPs submitting their White Paper in Week 12.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2023/24, 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) Assessment: Coursework 80 % and Practical Exam 20 %

Gradient Analysis (40%) due week 5
Expert Briefings or White Papers (40%) - Expert Briefing due week 10, white papers due week 12

Practical Examination:
Select Committee due week 10

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, aspects of their biology, ecology and geology, and how they can be used to reconstruct climate and the physical environment
  2. Design experiments and surveys to assess coral health and biodiversity
  3. Understand the ecosystem services and goods provided by corals and threats posed by human activities
  4. Recognise potential threats to coral ecosystems and solutions to overcome these
  5. Identify key policies and instruments to protect coral ecosystems 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
4. Sheppard S, Simon Davy S, Pilling G, Graham N. 2017. The Biology of Coral Reefs (Second Edition). Oxford University Press, 384 pp
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.
KeywordsClimate Change,Biology,Surveys,Governance,Policies,Human Impacts,Resilience,Adaptation
Course organiserProf Murray Roberts
Tel: (0131 6)50 5091
Course secretaryMrs Lauren Blackman
Tel: (0131 6)50 2624
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