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The University of Southampton

SOES3029 Seafloor Exploration and Surveying

Module Overview

This module provides you with skills that are scientifically fascinating as well as important for employability. The offshore industry is crying-out for graduates that understand seafloor surveying. In the past few years many OES students have gone on to careers in the field based on skills and experience from this module.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Be familiar with the basic principles of seafloor surveying and exploration;
  • Be able to select appropriate equipment and design surveys;
  • Have acquired practical experience of seafloor surveying;
  • Be able to integrate and interpret a range of seafloor data types;
  • Be able to report results in a professional way.


The Earth is less well-mapped than many of the planets in the Solar System - the reason for this being that almost 70% of the surface is covered by water so that opportunities for remote sensing using satellites and EM waves is limited. This module is about how we can study the part of the Earth that is covered by water. How can we determine the shape of the seabed, and how can we determine simple properties of what is immediately beneath the seabed? We will mostly use practical data examples from relatively shallow water, but the same principles apply in a wide range of water depths. During this course you will learn about the capability of different types of instrumentation, how to plan a survey for particular objectives, and how the data from different surveys may be processed. You will get hands-on experience with acquisition and processing of modern high-resolution swath bathymetry data, and with integrating different observations to understand the hazards in a region. The course is designed to be accessible to students from a diverse range of backgrounds, including Geology, Geophysics, Oceanography and Marine Biology.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Formal lectures: will provide an introduction to the theory underlying the basic principles of seafloor exploration and surveying. An outline of each lecture is provided prior to start of a lecture or on website/in manual. Each lecture systematically covers the main concepts and topics. Where relevant, lecturers' own research experience in the appropriate fields is brought into the lecturing sessions. References to the applicable chapter of course text and/or other relevant journal articles are provided as essential reading for each lecture. Practicals: will exemplify the theory and allow you to develop appropriate skills in seafloor survey design, data collation, interpretation and report compilation. This will include commercial-grade software such as ArcGIS and Caris HIPS. Boatwork: you will plan and undertake seafloor survey data acquisition on the School's research vessel, RV Callista. Blackboard: Much of the lecture material is summarised at Lectures are recorded on Panopto and available for later review. A wide range of support can be provided for those students who have further or specific learning and teaching needs.

Practical classes and workshops37
Independent Study95
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Blondel, P., Murton, B. (1997). Handbook of Seafloor Sonar Imagery. 



MethodPercentage contribution
Data Analysis 50%
Survey 25%
Survey 25%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal


Costs associated with this module

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:


There are no additional costs associated with this module.

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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