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SOES2024 Coastal and Estuarine Oceanography I

Module Overview

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

1. To introduce the principals of fluid flow in the natural environment including interactions with organisms and natural adaptations to the fluid medium. 2. To advance understanding of tides and tidal currents and waves and wave currents. 3. To provide an introduction to sediment and sediment transport in the marine environment. 4. To provide a physical introduction to estuarine and coastal and shelf environments.

Learning Outcomes

Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Practical skills in grain size analyses
  • An understanding of fluid flow and fluid-solid interaction in the marine environment, including the ability to undertake simple calculations.
  • An appreciation of the interaction of marine organisms with moving fluid.
  • Understanding of the physical processes responsible for shaping coastal and estuarine environments and in moving sediment.
  • An appreciation of the action of waves and tides from coastal to oceanic environments and their prediction.
  • A developing understanding of estuarine and coastal environments contributing towards capabilities to undertake programmes of environmental survey.
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • field skills
  • team working
  • report writing
  • time management
Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Understand the basic principles and applications of fluid flow in the marine environment including basic knowledge of units and physical parameters.
  • Be aware of the origins and distribution of different types of deep-sea clastic sediments and their relationship to climate change.
  • Identify the interactions between fluid and solid particles including organisms.
  • Be aware of the adaptations of marine organisms to life in moving fluids.
  • Undertake simple calculations involving fluid flow parameters.
  • Describe coastal and estuarine sediments and understand and be able to apply methods of grain size analysis.
  • Understand the action of tides and waves and their associated currents and prediction.
  • Understand the effects of oscillatory flows in the marine environment and their affects on sediment transport.
  • Describe the processes responsible for shaping the morphology of estuaries and coasts.
  • Understand the concept of the sedimentary cycle of erosion and deposition and sediment pathways within the marine environment.


Topics include: • Course introduction & Introduction to sediment • Grain size distributions & statistics; grain shape; grain size analysis techniques; sediment physical properties & sampling. • Introduction to fluid flow and fundamentals of fluid mechanics; fluid – particle and fluid – organisms interaction “life in moving fluids”. • Tides and tidal currents and waves and wave currents from coastal to oceanic settings. • Estuarine circulation and mixing; estuarine models. • Estuarine morphology and sediment; bedforms and fine sediment transport. • Beach and coastal processes. • Introduction to shelf sedimentation. Deep sea sedimentation.

Special Features

A half day field course to the coast will examine fluid sediment interaction and coastal geomorphology in a natural setting to complement the theory component of the course. If appropriate equivalent laboratory or flow visualisation experiences will be arranged for students with special needs.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Formal Lectures: 32 x 45 minute lectures will provide an introduction to the theory underlying coastal and estuarine oceanography. Each lecture systematically covers the main concepts and topics by the use of PowerPoint presentations. Lectures are supported by illustrated handout materials. References to the applicable chapter of course texts and/or other relevant journal articles are provided as essential reading for relevant lectures. Practical sessions: 2 x 2 hour practicals will exemplify the theory covered during formal lectures fostering development of particular skills of relevance to grain size analysis and wave refraction analysis. Field work: A half day study visit to the coast will demonstrate fluid sediment interaction in the natural environment. Support: is provided by staff and/or postgraduate demonstrators. A wide range of support can be provided for those students who have further or specific learning and teaching needs.

Independent Study108
Practical classes and workshops6
Total study time150



MethodPercentage contribution
Field trip write-up 20%
Laboratory practicals 20%
Theory examination  (2.5 hours) 60%

Linked modules


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

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