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

Postgraduate Course: Marine Ecosystems and Policies (PGGE11254)

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
SummaryMarine (coastal and ocean) environments are fundamental features of the Earth system that are profoundly influenced by human interactions. As these ecosystems are trans-boundary and multi-dimensional, the policy instruments governing the utilization of coastal ocean systems are complex. However, policies, laws and regulations are often disconnected to the scale and dynamics of targeted ecosystems and species in both time and space (e.g. oceanographic processes, migratory species, multi-site life stages). Many global to local scale policies could be more effective, support deeper understanding of ecosystem processes, and take into account cumulative impacts of social pressures and environmental change. Additionally, as technology advances, human population increases, and energy demands extend the horizons of marine exploration and exploitation further offshore, understanding the connections between ecosystem dynamics and policies is increasingly vital.

This course is focused on marine ecosystems, issues and policies in an integrated way that provides foundational learning for critical analysis of marine environments and human impacts. Diverse case studies across a range of biomes, scales, and issues are considered to examine and test the suitability of different policies for different ecosystem scales, environmental issues and socio-cultural contexts. Examples of case study scales include: Archipelagos and Islands, Estuaries, Semi-enclosed Seas, Continental Margins, Polar Seas, and Global Oceans. (Note: This course is co-taught as a 20c course for PGT students and for a small number of fourth year UG Env. GeoScience and Ecology students, with joint lecture sessions).
Course description The Marine Ecosystems and Policies course will be delivered through:

1. Weekly lectures: every week, students will receive a lecture on a new biome, with a related case study from academic staff or guest lecturers to reflect the latest advances in certain topics. Biomes for example include polar regions, high seas, coral reefs and continental margins.

2. Discussion tutorials. These will happen in several weeks immediately before the lecture, and will allow discussion around a topical issue set as an exercise the week before.

3. Varied assessments. These will include individual short critiques on topical issues, a group presentation, and a large individual report.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None for MSc. Students.

For UG students, Environmental Geosciences or Ecology student in their final year.
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2024/25, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  0
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 196 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) The course is assessed through coursework worth 80% of your overall mark and a practical examination (presentation) worth 20% of your overall mark.

Additionally, there will be formative feedback assessments.

- Journal Response 3 (formative) due week 5
- Policy Paper Abstract (formative) due week 7
- Journal Response 4 (summative worth 20%) due week 8
- Presentations (summative practical exam, worth 20%) due
weeks 8 & 9
- Abstract Symposia week 11 (not assessed)
- Policy Paper (summative worth 60%) due week 12

Feedback Not entered
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Understand coastal-marine ecosystem processes with regard to the inter-dynamics of different scales and human dimensions and drivers of environmental change
  2. Be familiar with an array of conservation pathways and scenarios for recovery, e.g. habitat conservation and restoration
  3. Be familiar with examples of key national and international marine conservation policies
  4. Conduct critical reviews of key literature and policies, developing the capacity to conduct policy analysis and suggest solutions for different settings and scales, resulting in a formal policy paper
  5. Be able to develop and demonstrate leadership and participation in group discussions, and team based oral presentations.
Reading List
For our guides along the way, we will be using Marine Ecology: Processes, Systems, and Impacts, 2nd ed., by Michel Kaiser, et al. While this textbook is not required, it is highly recommended and some copies will likely be available in the main Central Library and the KB Library, and for purchase from a bookstore of your choice (e.g. Blackwells in Edinburgh, Amazon etc.). We also utilize relevant chapters from the 2014 Fifth Assessment Report of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) and the Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere (IPCC 2019). While the textbook provides an ongoing and consistent backdrop to the course, we primarily engage with a preliminary set of core readings from academic journal articles as indicated below. In addition, we will provide further topical readings on the different biomes and case studies along the way, building a marine library for your use in this class and beyond.

A sample list of readings is listed below and will be available online or via LEARN in addition to the wider list set at the start of the course.

IOC UNESCO, IMO, FAO, UNDP (2011). A Blueprint for Ocean and Coastal Sustainability.
UN Sustainable Development Goals SDG No. 14 Life Under Water
Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, et al. The Impact of Climate Change on the World's Marine Ecosystems. Science 328, 1523 (2010)
Charles, A. 2012. People, oceans and scale: governance, livelihoods and climate change adaptation in marine social, ecological systems. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability. Vol 4: 351-357.
Jackson, J.B.C., et. al., 2001. Historical Overfishing and the Recent Collapse of Coastal Ecosystems. Science 293
Rocliffe, et al, 2014. Towards A Network of Locally Managed Marine Areas (LMMAs) in the Western Indian Ocean. PLOS ONE Vol 9, Issue 7, e103000
Foale, S. et. al. 2011. Tenure and taboos: origins and implications for fisheries in the Pacific. Fish and Fisheries, 12, 357-369.
Donner and Webber, 2014. Obstacles to climate change adaptation decisions: a case study of SLR and coastal protection in Kiribati. Sustain Sci 9:331-345 DOI 10.1007/s11625-014-0242-z
Yamamoto, L. and, Miguel Esteban, M. 2010. Vanishing Island States and sovereignty. Ocean & Coastal Management 53 (2010) 1-9.
Levin, L. A. and Sibuet, M., 2012. Understanding Continental Margin Biodiversity:
A New Imperative. Annual Review Marine Science 2012. 4:8.1-8.34
Armstrong C.W., et. al., 2012. Services from the deep: steps towards valuation of deep-sea goods and services. Ecosystem Services 2 (2012) 2-13.
Roberts, et. al., 2006. Reefs of the Deep: The Biology and Geology of Cold-Water Coral Ecosystems. Science Vol 312 (543-547)
Dayton, P.K., M.J. Tegner, P.B. Edwards, and K.L. Riser (1998). Sliding Baselines, Ghosts, and Reduced Expectations in Kelp Forest Communities. Ecol. Appl., 8(2):309-322.
Schofield, et al 2010. How Do Polar Marine Ecosystems Respond to Rapid Climate Change? Science, Vol 328 1520-1522
Dodds K (2010) Governing Antarctica: Contemporary Challenges and the Enduring Legacy of the 1959 Antarctic Treaty, Global Policy Vol.1(1)
Block, B.A., et al., 2011. Tracking apex marine predator movements in a dynamic ocean. Nature, Vol 475, 86-90.
Warner, R.M., 2014. Conserving marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction: co-evolution and interaction with the law of the sea. Frontiers in Marine Science, Vol 1, Article 6.
Wagner, et al, 2013. Big Ocean: A Shared Research Agenda for Large Scale MPAs.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Capacity to conduct context-based policy analysis to develop solutions for different settings and scales.

Writing brief critiques and reviews of key literature and policies.

Leadership and participation in group discussions on complex topics, scientific literature and examples.

Team based oral presentations and participation in an Abstracts Symposia.

Researching, constructing and delivering individual white paper, policy brief.
KeywordsMarine,coastal ocean ecosystems,biophysical processes and scales,marine policy and governance
Course organiserDr Sebastian Hennige
Tel: (0131 6)50 5410
Course secretaryMiss Sarah Jones
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