The University of Southampton
Ocean and Earth Science, National Oceanography Centre SouthamptonUndergraduate study

SOES2030 Dale field marine biology fieldwork skills

Module Overview

To familiarise students with basic field skills in littoral and pelagic biology.

Aims and Objectives

At the end of the module students should be able to:

1. Understand basic ecological principles relating to shore ecology;
2. Use keys to identify fauna and macro algae
3. Design, plan and implement a research project based on intertidal community ecology.
4. Appreciate water column sampling strategies in marine biology

Key Skills Acquired
1. Faunal data-analysis skills, numeracy, statistics and computer skills
2. Written communication / presentation skills
3. Oral and visual presentation skills (poster and seminar)
4. Information retrieval skills (library/web)
5. Report writing
6. Project planning, including experimental design, problem solving, time management
7. Teamworking


During Dale:

1. Field course Introduction - including shore safety

2. Revision of Identification of marine phyla

3. Overview of rocky shore ecology and macroalgae

4. Overview of particulate shores

5. Introduction to taxonomy and use of keys

6. Basic biological sampling and statistics

7. Project planning and preparation

During Semester 1 students who do not take SOES 2025 as full module will still be required to attend the following lectures:

Sounding measurements in the water column (2 lectures): Use of acoustic Doppler sensors. Methods and what can be measured (current structure, zooplankton etc). How 2-D transects of data sections are presented, analysed and interpreted.

Physical measurements in the sea (4 lectures): What can be measured - description of the primary sensors for hydrographic measurements (temperature, conductivity, pressure etc) and how they should be deployed. Explanation of how sensor records are converted to useful ocean variables (T, S, depth etc). Current measurements (relate to Section 3). Fluorometry, transmissometry.
Platforms for physical measurements: underway sampling and towed platforms; gliders, floats, drifting buoys.
Presenting physical data, analysis and interpretation. Should cover both locally acquired data (link to fieldwork) and access to databases, ocean atlas etc.

Geographic Information Systems (2 lectures): Using GIS Systems for ocean data. Based on coastal and estuarine benthic survey work.

Practical Sessions:

During Dale:

· Identification of sheltered rocky shore organisms

· Identification particulate shore organisms

· Identification of exposed shore organisms and project planning

· Project data acquisition day 1

· Project data acquisition day 2


Special Features

Provision for special needs will be made on a case by case basis. Where it is not physically possible for a student to undertake fieldwork an alternative course of study and assessment will be provided.

Learning and Teaching

Study time allocation

Contact hours:69
Private study hours:81
Total study time: 150 hours

Teaching and learning methods

A week-long residential fieldcourse (for students on Marine Biology programmes only) to Fort Dale in the September preceding Year 2. This will provide a practical introduction to shore ecology, develop skills in species identification, project planning (including skills experimental design, time management) and working within small groups.

A wide range of support is available for those students who have further or specific learning and teaching needs.

There will be opportunity for additional lectures and practicals in semester 1 of year 2 to ensure that the students have sufficient contact hours. 

NB Students who take this module and who do not take SOES 2025 will be required to attend selected lectures from SOES 2025 to give them sufficient water column sampling skills/background for the Falmouth field course

Resources and reading list

Handbook of the Marine Fauna of North-West Europe. Eds P.J. Hayward and J.S. Ryland, OUP. 1995

NB Biology of Intertidal Animals, R. C. Newell can now be obtained as a CD rom


Assessment methods

A 3000 word report based on a project undertaken on the marine biology fieldcourse. Statistical analysis of data is expected. (70%). Marks from the SOES 2025 boatwork practical report (20%) and tutorial work (10%) will also contribute to the final mark.

Linked modules

Pre-requisites and / or co-requisites

Introduction to marine ecologySOES10061
Marine invertebrates SOES10071
Introduction to functional marine biologySOES10111
Marine vertebratesSOES20112


Programmes in which this module is compulsory

ProgrammeUCAS CodeProgramme length
MSci Marine BiologyF7034 years
MSci Marine Biology with study abroad4 years
BSc Marine Biology with OceanographyF7C13 years
MSci Biology and Marine Biology7N164 years


Costs associated with this course

Students are responsible for meeting the cost of essential textbooks, and of producing such essays, assignments, laboratory reports and dissertations as are required to fulfil the academic requirements for each programme of study.

In addition to this, students registered for this module typically also have to pay for:

Printing and copyingThe University printing costs are currently: A4 - 5p per side (black and white) or 25p per side (colour) A3 - 10p per side (black and white) or 50p per side (colour) Please note: Paper sizes not recognised by the printing devices will prompt you to select the size and then charge a minimum of 50p per black and white copy and a maximum of £1 per colour copy. You can pay for your printing by using the money loaders or by using print copy payment service by going to Please remember that we are unable to refund any credit that has not been used by the end of your course, so please consider this when topping up your printing/copy account. The University Print Centre also offer a printing and copying service as well as a dissertation/binding service. Current printing and copying costs can be found here. They also provide a large format printing service, e.g. Academic posters.£0.05-1.00

There will also be further costs for the following, not purchasable from the University:

ClothingProtective Clothing: You will need to wear suitable clothing when attending field courses, waterproofs coat, trousers and walking boots.
FieldworkAccommodation: For compulsory residential field courses accommodation and travel are normally provided. You are usually expected to cover the costs of food and drink, although some courses may include meals. For optional field courses, you may be asked to make a contribution to the travel and/or accommodation costs.
FieldworkInsurance: Although travel insurance is covered by the University high risk items, for example laptops and mobile phones, will require separate personal insurance.
FieldworkMedical: An up-to-date tetanus vaccination is advisable.
FieldworkTravel: For compulsory residential field courses accommodation and travel are normally provided. You are usually expected to cover the costs of food and drink, although some courses may include meals. For optional field courses, you may be asked to make a contribution to the travel and/or accommodation costs.
StationeryA ruler, a pair of compasses, set squares, protractor, pencils (including coloured), eraser, calculator and penknife.
EquipmentIT - Data Storage: Students are expected to provide their own data storage device.
EquipmentIT - Hardware: It is advisable that students provide their own laptop or personal computer, although shared facilities are available across the University campus.

Please also ensure you read the section on additional costs in the University’s Fees, Charges and Expenses Regulations in the University Calendar available at

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