The University of Southampton

SOES6070 Advanced Oceanography Fieldwork

Module Overview

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

• To develop skills in pre-cruise planning, flexibly adapting to sea state and weather conditions. • To develop skills in ocean instrumentation and experiments at sea. • To develop advanced skills in sample collection and analysis. • To develop advanced expertise in data analysis, modelling, synthesis and presentation. • To develop advanced group working skills.

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Plan an oceanographic survey of an area of the shelf sea through careful evaluation of scientific objectives and logistical considerations.
  • Presentation of results and analysis (written and oral).
  • Working to strict deadlines within the fieldwork logistics and Semester 1 reporting.
  • Work effectively within a group either as leader or member of that group to successfully undertake offshore survey work.
  • Collect and analyse data to investigate environmental forcing within a system and identify interactions between physics and biology.
  • Evaluate in situ observations alongside remote observations and model predictions, for a holistic understanding of the shelf sea environment.
  • Write a concise scientific report, describing the fieldwork and data analysis, drawing conclusions on shelf sea physics and biology synthesising previous data and relevant published studies.
  • Working at sea on a survey boat for an extended period (two-three day-long periods), using a wide range of oceanographic field equipment to investigate the physics and biogeochemistry of mixed and stratified settings in a shelf sea. Data acquisition from a range of instrumentation (Conductivity Temperature Depth package; Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler; Fast Repetition Rate Fluorometer).
  • Data analysis and modelling, using generic software (e.g., Matlab) and specialized computer programmes (e.g., a model of the physics and biology in a shelf sea water column).
  • Ability to work within a group, both as leader and member.
  • Fieldwork planning skills and logistics.


The module consists of a field course at the end of Semester 2 (mid/late June), following the exam period. Students will provide an oral debrief to staff following the fieldcourse alongside preparation of a cruise report. Students may choose to work on the analysis of physical and preliminary biological measurements, along with model predictions and remote sensing data, during summer vacation. On return to Southampton for semester 1 of the following academic year, students will be instructed in the analysis and interpretation of data. Each student will prepare an individual report, to be handed in by the end of term. The report should address the physical character of a shelf sea front and the associated biological productivity, using in situ and remote observations along with model predictions. Aspects of the remote sensing and modelling will be introduced through SOES3009.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

In the field: Fieldwork: A 2-3-day field course based at Plymouth, working up to 30 miles offshore on the research vessel Callista. Shore-based work will involve processing of data collected from Callista, partly in preparation for the following day. Strong weather contingency. Formal Lectures: Lectures will provide instruction on: key processes; regional oceanography & survey strategy; instrumentation; modelling; data synthesis. A wide range of support can be provided for those students who have further or specific learning and teaching needs. Within this framework of scientific activity, the group will have to develop and build teamwork skills, delegate and organise within the group, and to manage time in an effective and constructive way, in order that all tasks are completed. In Southampton: Modelling and Remote acquisition of Observations: A model of the physics and biology of the shelf seas will be provided, along with facilities to remotely acquire data from the survey region. Modelling and satellite data analysis will be close to “real-time”. Additional support can be provided for those students who have further or specific needs.

Independent Study80
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Simpson, J. and J. Sharples (2012). Introduction to the Physical and Biological Oceanography of Shelf Seas. 


Assessment Strategy

Individual report (70%): A comprehensive analysis of the physics and biology of the shelf sea front around Plymouth at the time of the fieldwork, based on in situ measurements, laboratory analysis, model simulations and satellite data, discussed in the context of previous data and published literature. Up to 20 pages, 12-point font, 2.5cm margins all around, single-spaced. Hand in by end of term. Tests Learning Outcomes 1,2,3,4,5 Cruise report (20%): a document presenting the details of where and when the group did what and who did it, and a record of data management/archiving, as well as post-fieldwork analysis. Collected in early S1. Tests Learning Outcomes 1,2,3 Post fieldwork debrief (10%): An oral summary of activities carried out during the fieldcourse delivered in Plymouth on the boat. Tests Learning Outcomes 1,2


MethodPercentage contribution
Fieldwork report 20%
Fieldwork report 10%
Individual report 70%

Linked modules


To study this module, you will need to have studied the following module(s):

SOES3018Applied Oceanography and Fieldwork
SOES3009Shelf Seas and Shelf Edge Dynamics
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