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

Postgraduate Course: Polar Oceans: Science and Policy (PGGE11260)

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 polar oceans, their role in global climate change and their sensitivity to direct and indirect human impacts. We investigate the key processes and interactions in the Arctic and Antarctic polar systems, and their larger-scale importance for regional ecosystems, global carbon and nutrient cycling, and Earth's climate in the past, present and future. Increasing human pressure on the polar oceans requires a detailed understanding of these issues and how to manage them, in order to protect these fragile and important marine systems into the future. Such an understanding will be developed throughout this course.
Course description The course will begin with an overview of the fundamental science of the Arctic and Antarctic polar marine systems, from physical oceanography and ocean-climate interactions to marine biogeochemistry and ecosystem dynamics. We will then progress to the ways in which the polar oceans are changing and how these changes influence and are influenced by human activities. The course then evolves to discuss the relevant policy and governance structures in the Arctic and Antarctic, and how polar marine resources and systems must be managed to ensure their long-term sustainability.

Lectures - Arctic ecosystems and oceanography; Southern Ocean ecosystems and oceanography; Antarctica and the Arctic in the global context; Fjords and coastal systems under threat; Human interactions with the environment in a changing Arctic; Pan-Arctic pressures and policy; Southern Ocean stressors and strategies; Future priorities and opportunities in the polar regions. Workshop (assessed) - Methods in polar ocean observing. Class-based exercise (assessed) - Marine protected area consultation. This broad-ranging and dynamic learning experience will equip students with a sound knowledge of polar ocean processes and their global importance, and the practical skills and understanding required to work in the governance and protection of these systems.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed:
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2023/24, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  40
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 30, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 166 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Coursework (100%): practical assessment (40%) comprising one workshop report (20%) and one class-based assessment (20%); written coursework (60%) following the class-based exercise.

Assessment deadlines:
workshop report due week 6
class-based assessment due week 10
written coursework due week 12

Feedback Students will be given feedback after each assessment
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. understand key physical, chemical and biological processes at work in the polar oceans and their importance at regional and global scales
  2. describe the changes occurring in the Arctic and Antarctic polar marine systems, and their interaction with direct and indirect human impacts
  3. elucidate the complexity in the governance of these systems, considering multiple stressors and a large and diverse set of stakeholders
  4. design the field campaigns and observing systems, and understand the techniques, required to quantify polar ecosystem and biogeochemical change
  5. plan and implement a management system to facilitate blue growth whilst protecting ecosystem services in the polar oceans
Reading List
Kaiser et al. 2011. Marine ecology: processes, systems and impacts. Oxford University Press. Wassmann, P. and M. Reigstad 2011. Future Arctic Ocean seasonal ice zones and implications for pelagic-benthic coupling. Oceanography 24(3):220-231, Bluhm, B.A. et al. 2011. Arctic marine biodiversity: An update of species richness and examples of biodiversity change. Oceanography 24(3):232,248, Constable, A.J. et al. 2014. Climate change and Southern Ocean ecosystems I: how changes in physical habitats directly affect marine biota. Global Change Biology, 20, 3004-3025. Ducklow, H.W. et al. 2013. West Antarctic Peninsula: An ice-dependent coastal marine ecosystem in transition. Oceanography 26(3):190,203, Henley S. F. et al. 2019. Variability and change in the west Antarctic Peninsula marine system: research priorities and opportunities. Progress in Oceanography, 173, 208-237, doi: 10.1016/j.pocean.2019.03.003, 2019.

Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Students will develop critical thinking skills relevant to marine systems and governance, specific knowledge of the most prescient issues in polar marine systems, and practical skills in the design and implementation of ocean governance structures and observing systems. Different components of the course will enhance students┬┐ skills in independent learning and research, leadership of teams and initiatives, and collaborative working. These skills and attributes are well-aligned with those developed throughout the Marine Systems and Policies MSc programme, as well as other Masters programmes from which students may choose this course
KeywordsArctic Ocean,Southern Ocean,Climate Change,human impact,ecosystems,oceanography,MarineProtectedArea
Course organiserDr Sian Henley
Tel: (0131 6)50 7288
Course secretaryMrs Lauren Blackman
Tel: (0131 6)50 2624
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