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Oceanography

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Oceans cover seventy percent of the Earth’s surface, regulating our climate and maintaining our atmosphere. They also contain virtually all the known chemical elements. This course deals with their physics, chemistry and biology, as well as the structure of the basins that contain them – covering topics like underwater volcanoes; the greenhouse effect; eddy systems; the El Niño phenomenon and its link to droughts and floods; and the global view of ocean properties that satellite technology can provide. This is a wide-ranging, multi-disciplinary course for anyone interested in the natural world.

Modules at Level 3 assume that you are suitably prepared for study at this level. If you want to take a single module to satisfy your career development needs or pursue particular interests, you don’t need to start at Level 1 but you do need to have adequately prepared yourself for OU study in some other way. Check with our Student Registration & Enquiry Service to make sure that you are sufficiently prepared.

Register for the course


Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£440.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

October 2014 is the final start date for this course. For more information, see Future availability.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£440.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

October 2014 is the final start date for this course. For more information, see Future availability.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£985.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

October 2014 is the final start date for this course. For more information, see Future availability.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£440.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

October 2014 is the final start date for this course. For more information, see Future availability.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£985.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

October 2014 is the final start date for this course. For more information, see Future availability.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£1316.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

An additional fee for the examination may apply.

October 2014 is the final start date for this course. For more information, see Future availability.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£440.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

October 2014 is the final start date for this course. For more information, see Future availability.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£865.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

October 2014 is the final start date for this course. For more information, see Future availability.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£1316.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

October 2014 is the final start date for this course. For more information, see Future availability.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£1316.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

October 2014 is the final start date for this course. For more information, see Future availability.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£440.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

October 2014 is the final start date for this course. For more information, see Future availability.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£1316.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

See below for information about part time tuition fee loans available for study towards a qualification.

October 2014 is the final start date for this course. For more information, see Future availability.

*Fees may vary by country.

What you will study

  • Is the sea-level really rising?
  • Why are there hot springs in the deep sea?
  • How does the ocean circulation control the global climate and fisheries?

If you would like to know the answers to these and similar questions, Oceanography is the course for you.

Oceanography is a ‘whole Earth’ science: the oceans interact continuously with the solid Earth and the atmosphere, and are the setting for much of the planet’s biological production. The Earth sciences, physics, chemistry and biology are all prominent in the course, because their interrelationship in the marine environment is the essence of oceanography.

A large proportion of the course is presented in a series of five volumes prepared by the course team and published in association with Butterworth-Heinemann. The other element is a set book, Biological Oceanography: an Introduction.

Book 1 The ocean basins – their structure and evolution is an introduction to the oceans and the ocean basins. It considers the ocean as a resource, the structure and composition of ocean crust and the effects of hydrothermal circulation.

Book 2 Seawater – its composition, properties and behaviour is about the composition, temperature and density of seawater, in particular with respect to different water masses; also the transmission of light and sound in the oceans.

Book 3 Ocean circulation – examines surface and deep currents, with emphasis on interactions between the ocean and the atmosphere, and the importance of the ocean for climate.

Book 4 Waves, tides and shallow-water processeslooks at the classification of deep-water and shallow-water waves; tides and tidal behaviour; the principles of sediment transport and deposition; tidal flats and estuaries; deltas; the beach zone; and the continental shelf.

Book 5 Marine biogeochemical cyclesdescribes the supply of terrigenous sediments to the deep sea, how the marine sedimentary record can be used to obtain information about past ocean environments and climate, and chemical fluxes and cycles in the ocean.

The course is designed to provide a scientific basis for:

  • understanding the oceanic environment and its interactions with the atmosphere and the solid Earth; how the oceans have changed with time, and the rates at which fundamental processes operate in the oceans
  • demonstrating the role and importance of the main scientific disciplines in oceanography, and the relationships between them
  • understanding the observational, experimental and theoretical methods that have led to our present knowledge of the geology of the ocean crust, the physical and chemical characteristics of ocean water, and marine ecology
  • understanding the dependence and effects of humans on the oceans
  • developing your skills in using data from more than one discipline in the analysis of oceanographic problems, and in the discussion and use of scientific information from recent oceanographic research papers.

Entry

This course will appeal to anyone who is interested in the natural world, particularly those concerned about environmental issues or interested in the idea of the Earth as a system. From a vocational point of view, teachers, mariners, meteorologists and environmentalists will all find the course useful. The most challenging feature is the course’s emphasis on the multidisciplinary approach essential to a proper understanding of the marine environment. It is ideal for those who do not like their science cramped by the straitjacket of specialisation.

This is a Level 3 course. Level 3 courses build on study skills and subject knowledge acquired from studies at Levels 1 and 2. They are intended only for students who have recent experience of higher education in a related subject, preferably with The Open University. Since this course draws strongly on each of the four main science disciplines – physics, chemistry, biology and Earth sciences – you are strongly advised to obtain a good pass in Environmental science (S216) or at least two Level 2 science courses – preferably in different disciplines – before attempting it. You should also feel comfortable with maths of the standard reached in Exploring science (S104) and Maths for science (S151).

It is essential that you establish whether or not your background and experience give you a sound basis on which to tackle the course, since students who are appropriately prepared have the best chance of completing their studies successfully. The Science Faculty has produced a booklet Are You Ready For S330? to help you to decide whether you already have the recommended background knowledge or experience to start the course or whether you need a little extra preparation. This can be viewed or printed from the Are you ready for science? website.

If you have any doubt about the suitability of the course, please contact our Student Registration & Enquiry Service.

Preparatory work

The following books would be useful reading prior to taking the course:

  • Denny, M. (2008) How the Ocean Works: An Introduction to Oceanography, Princeton University Press
  • T.Garrison (2001) Oceanography: an Invitation to Marine Science, Thomson Learning
  • M. Grant Gross, E. Grant Gross (1995) Oceanography: a View of Earth, Prentice-Hall
  • P.R. Pinet (1999) Invitation to Oceanography, Jones and Bartlett Publisher International
  • K. Stowe (1996) Exploring Ocean Science, Wiley
  • H. V. Thurman, A. P. Trujillo (2004) Essentials of Oceanography, Pearson Higher Education, Prentice Hall

Regulations

As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the Module Regulations and the Student Regulations which are available on our Essential documents website.

If you have a disability

The course includes relatively complex visual material which has all been carefully described and recorded, along with readings of the texts on audio in DAISY Digital Talking Book format. The printed study materials are also available in comb-bound format or as Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) versions.  However, some Adobe PDF components may not be available or fully accessible using a screen reader and mathematical, scientific, diagrammatic or foreign language material may be particularly difficult to read in this way. Other formats may be available in the future. Our Services for disabled students website has the latest information about availability.

If you have particular study requirements please tell us as soon as possible, as some of our support services may take several weeks to arrange. Visit our Services for disabled students website for more information, including:

  • help to determine your study requirements and how to request the support that you need  
  • Disabled Students' Allowances (DSAs)
  • using a computer for OU study
  • equipment and other support services that we offer
  • examination arrangements
  • how to contact us for advice and support both before you register and while you are studying.

Study materials

What's included

Course books, other printed materials, ocean floor maps, a website containing essential course components, e.g. assignments, that you may choose to print out.

You will need

A calculator.

Computing requirements

You will need a computer with internet access to study this course as it includes online activities, which you can access using a web browser.

  • If you have purchased a new desktop or laptop computer since 2007 you should have no problems completing the online activities.
  • If you’ve got a netbook, tablet or other mobile computing device check our Technical requirements section.
  • If you use an Apple Mac you will need OS X 10.6 or later.

You can also visit the Technical requirements section for further computing information including the details of the support we provide.

Materials to buy

Set books

  • Lalli, Carol M. Biological Oceanography (2nd edn), Butterworth-Heinemann £46.99 - ISBN 9780750633840 (This book is now provided electronically by the OU Library and is accessed from the module website, therefore purchase of the hard copy book is optional. If you do purchase the hard copy book, please use the ISBN stated above.)

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

You will have a tutor who will help you with the study material and mark and comment on your written work, and whom you can ask for advice and guidance. We may also be able to offer group tutorials or day schools that you are encouraged, but not obliged, to attend. Where your tutorials are held will depend on the distribution of students taking the course. 

Contact our Student Registration & Enquiry Service if you want to know more about study with The Open University before you register.

Assessment

The assessment details for this course can be found in the facts box above.

You will be expected to submit your tutor-marked assignments (TMAs) online through the eTMA system unless there are some difficulties which prevent you from doing so. In these circumstances, you must negotiate with your tutor to get their agreement to submit your assignment on paper.

Future availability

The details given here are for the course that starts in February 2014. It will be available for the last time in October 2014.

How to register

To register a place on this course return to the top of the page and use the Click to register button.

Student Reviews

“If you have enough time to wait for whatever they replace this course with, do it. The workload was huge ...”
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“Without doubt one of my favourite modules and a great choice as the last module in my multi-disciplinary Open degree. ...”
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Distance learning

The Open University is the world’s leading provider of flexible, high quality distance learning. Unlike other universities we are not campus based. You will study in a flexible way that works for you whether you’re at home, at work or on the move. As an OU student you’ll be supported throughout your studies – your tutor or study adviser will guide and advise you, offer detailed feedback on your assignments, and help with any study issues. Tuition might be in face-to-face groups, via online tutorials, or by phone.

For more information read Distance learning explained.

Are you already an OU student ? Go to StudentHome for information on choosing your next module.
Course facts
About this course:
Course code S330
Credits 30
OU Level 3
SCQF level 10
FHEQ level 6
Course work includes:
4 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
Examination
No residential school

Course satisfaction survey

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