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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Geosciences : Geosciences

Postgraduate Course: Coastal Environments and Communities (GESC11016)

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
SummaryOur coasts are a fascinating area of study, where the boundaries of our terrestrial and marine environments meet and local communities are faced with unique challenges and opportunities. Focusing on coastal regions allows students to explore a wide-ranging interdisciplinary understanding of the connections between social and ecological systems. This course provides an opportunity to delve deeply into ecology, environmental processes, rural issues, policy and community empowerment, and will equip students with an in-depth understanding of how our coastal interactions and decision-making can have longstanding impacts on the sea, the land and the communities that depend on them.
Course description This course will provide students with a range of transferable skills and knowledge using coastal areas in Scotland and globally as a learning focus. It is broadly divided into three section; the first focusing on understanding coastal processes and ecology as a basis for appreciating the diversity and importance of these environments. The second focuses on human uses and values of coastlines, from blue carbon to inshore aquaculture. Finally, the third section considers these in parallel, focusing on management and policy for people and environment. Teaching will be a combination of lectures, hands-on workshops, small group project learning and field trips. Lectures will be supported by small group discussions and workshops in which they discuss and debate relevant challenges and examples in depth. The field trips are designed to gain hands-on experience and understanding of coastal surveying and management, and an appreciation of the complexity of the environment and related decisions.

During the class teaching weeks (9), there will be approximately 2 hours of lectures and 2 hours of group discussion/tutorial based learning per session. There are also two weeks of planned field trips.

The content is subject to development, but an indicative weekly syllabus would be:

1. Class: Introduction- definitions, why coasts are important, global status.
2. Class: Coastal processes- geomorphology, erosion.
3. Class: Coastal intertidal ecology- communities, patterns, trends.
4. Class: Coastal subtidal ecology- kelp forests, marine nurseries.
5. Field trip: Coastal surveying- intertidal surveys, ROVs.
6. Class: Coastal communities- depopulation, empowerment, climate challenges.
7. Class: Blue carbon- coasts and climate change, impacts and adaptation.
8. Class: Coastal economies- aquaculture, seaweed farming, fishing, subsistence.
9. Class: Coastal management- MPAs, marine spatial planning.
10. Class: Coastal policy- national and international policy and legislation.
11. Field trip: People and coasts- marine management, aquaculture, community engagements.

The proposed location of the first field trip is a shore relatively local to Edinburgh on the east coast, e.g. North Berwick. A proposed location of the second field trip would be on the west coast in a heavy use area, e.g. to the Clyde area.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2024/25, 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 18, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 18, Fieldwork Hours 10, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 150 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) 100% coursework
Feedback Each day will include lectures and small group working/seminars, with regular informal feedback and direction on discussions and exercises throughout. Feedback will be provided on the fieldwork plan before the work is undertaken, as formative feedback for the first assessment. In-depth feedback will be provided on all assessments on both content to allow knowledge development, as well as general academic feedback which will enable general skill development such as critical evaluation, writing skills and literature searching.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. describe the variety and importance of coastal environments
  2. design and execute appropriate surveys to quantify coastal ecology and environments
  3. understand the role of coastal environments in climate change mitigation, and the impact of a changing climate upon the coasts
  4. explain the interactions between coastal communities and environments, and the importance of coastal economies
  5. discuss and evaluate coastal management and policy proposals
Reading List
There is no course textbook- reading will be based on relevant policies, legislation and literature, and updated annually.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Organisational skills to complete work in detail and to deadline
Fieldwork skills to safely and professionally undertake surveys
Critical thinking to evaluate and apply knowledge
Interdisciplinary thinking to bring together and explore issues that cross fields of study.
KeywordsCommunities,marine,coast,ecology,environment,management,blue economy,blue carbon,planning
Course organiserDr Hannah Grist
Course secretaryMs Jennifer Gumbrell
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