Skip to main content
Unit of study_

MARS5009: Topics in Australian Marine Science

Semester 1, 2020 [Normal day] - Camperdown/Darlington, Sydney

This unit of study will introduce students to current research undertaken in various disciplines of marine science in Australia. It will be a multi-institutional unit taught at the Sydney Institute of Marine Science (SIMS) with contributions from the four University partners of SIMS. Lectures and tutorials will be taught by leading marine science researchers. Topics will cover physical and biological oceanography, climate change, molecular ecology, aquaculture, marine biology and marine geosciences. In practical classes, students will analyse and interpret remote-sensing data from the Integrated Marine Observing System (IMOS), which provides comprehensive information on the biological and physical processes of Australia's coastal and oceanic waters.

Unit details and rules

Unit code MARS5009
Academic unit Geosciences Academic Operations
Credit points 6
Assumed knowledge


Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff

Coordinator Ana Vila Concejo,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Assignment Written assignments on Practical Modules
Based on results of exercises completed as part of the practical modules.
60% Multiple weeks Varies
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6
Final exam Final exam
20 multiple choice questions and five short answer questions
40% Week 12
Due date: 21 May 2020 at 00:00
1.5 hours
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6

Assessment summary

  • Written assignments on Practical Modules (60%): You are required to hand in written assignments based on the results of exercises completed as part of the practical modules. These will be submitted as an electronic report before the beginning of the practical class the week following the module's conclusion, or as instructed by the lecturer. Reports will include graphs and figures as well as interpretation of your results in the broader context of the topic. Most practical modules are worth 10%. Note some of the modules may be assessed over multiple weeks and will be worth 20% (Physical Oceanography module). The results of the IMOS practical (Week 1) are not assessed.
  • Exam: The exam is worth 40% of your total mark. The exam format will be 20 multiple choice questions based on the seminar series and five short answer questions addressing the practical modules you have worked on during the semester. More details will be forthcoming closer to the date.

Detailed information for each assessment can be found on Canvas.

Assessment criteria

The University awards common result grades, set out in the Coursework Policy 2014 (Schedule 1).

As a general guide, a high distinction indicates work of an exceptional standard, a distinction a very high standard, a credit a good standard, and a pass an acceptable standard.

Result name

Mark range


High distinction

85 - 100

At High-distinction level, a student demonstrates a flair for the subject as well as a detailed and comprehensive understanding of the unit material. A ‘High Distinction’ reflects exceptional achievement and is awarded to a student who demonstrates the ability to apply their subject knowledge and understanding to produce original solutions for novel or highly complex problems and/or comprehensive critical discussions of theoretical concepts.


75 - 84

At Distinction level, a student demonstrates an aptitude for the subject and a well developed understanding of the unit material. A ‘Distinction’ reflects excellent achievement and is awarded to a student who demonstrates an ability to apply their subject knowledge and understanding of the subject to produce good solutions for challenging problems and/or a reasonably well-developed critical analysis of theoretical concepts.


65 - 74

At CR level, a student demonstrates a good command and knowledge of the unit material. A ‘Credit’ reflects solid achievement and is awarded to a student who has a broad general understanding of the unit material and can solve routine problems and/or identify and superficially discuss theoretical concepts.


50 - 64

At PS level, a student demonstrates proficiency in the unit material. A ‘Pass’ reflects satisfactory achievement and is awarded to a student who has threshold knowledge.


0 - 49

When you don’t meet the learning outcomes of the unit to a satisfactory standard.

For more information see

For more information see guide to grades.

Late submission

In accordance with University policy, these penalties apply when written work is submitted after 11:59pm on the due date:

  • Deduction of 5% of the maximum mark for each calendar day after the due date.
  • After ten calendar days late, a mark of zero will be awarded.

Academic integrity

The Current Student website  provides information on academic integrity and the resources available to all students. The University expects students and staff to act ethically and honestly and will treat all allegations of academic integrity breaches seriously.  

We use similarity detection software to detect potential instances of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breach. If such matches indicate evidence of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breaches, your teacher is required to report your work for further investigation.

You may only use artificial intelligence and writing assistance tools in assessment tasks if you are permitted to by your unit coordinator, and if you do use them, you must also acknowledge this in your work, either in a footnote or an acknowledgement section.

Studiosity is permitted for postgraduate units unless otherwise indicated by the unit coordinator. The use of this service must be acknowledged in your submission.

Simple extensions

If you encounter a problem submitting your work on time, you may be able to apply for an extension of five calendar days through a simple extension.  The application process will be different depending on the type of assessment and extensions cannot be granted for some assessment types like exams.

Special consideration

If exceptional circumstances mean you can’t complete an assessment, you need consideration for a longer period of time, or if you have essential commitments which impact your performance in an assessment, you may be eligible for special consideration or special arrangements.

Special consideration applications will not be affected by a simple extension application.

Using AI responsibly

Co-created with students, AI in Education includes lots of helpful examples of how students use generative AI tools to support their learning. It explains how generative AI works, the different tools available and how to use them responsibly and productively.

WK Topic Learning activity Learning outcomes
Week 01 1. Welcome; 2. Course overview/expectations/computing; 3. Introduction to the AODN Ocean Portal Workshop (3 hr)  
Marine microbes around Australia Seminar (1 hr)  
Week 02 Introduction to R Workshop (3 hr)  
Whales Seminar (1 hr)  
Week 03 Animal tracking Workshop (3 hr)  
An overview of research at SIMS Seminar (1 hr)  
Week 04 Animal tracking Workshop (3 hr)  
Climate change Seminar (1 hr)  
Week 05 Physical oceanography Workshop (3 hr)  
Coastal ocean dynamics Seminar (1 hr)  
Week 06 Physical oceanography Workshop (3 hr)  
Restoration ecology Seminar (1 hr)  
Week 07 Physical oceanography Workshop (3 hr)  
Marine palaeontology Seminar (1 hr)  
Week 08 Statistics for marine science in R Workshop (3 hr)  
Reef management Seminar (1 hr)  
Week 09 Zooplankton Workshop (3 hr)  
Ecology of coastal tropical sharks Seminar (1 hr)  
Week 10 Zooplankton Workshop (3 hr)  
Threatened species management Seminar (1 hr)  
Week 11 Autonomous underwater vehicles/benthic ecology Workshop (3 hr)  
Geoscience Seminar (1 hr)  

Attendance and class requirements

Due to the exceptional circumstances caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, attendance requirements for this unit of study have been amended. Where online tutorials/workshops/virtual laboratories have been scheduled, students should make every effort to attend and participate at the scheduled time. Penalties will not be applied if technical issues, etc. prevent attendance at a specific online class. In that case, students should discuss the problem with the coordinator, and attend another session, if available.

Study commitment

Typically, there is a minimum expectation of 1.5-2 hours of student effort per week per credit point for units of study offered over a full semester. For a 6 credit point unit, this equates to roughly 120-150 hours of student effort in total.

Required readings


Most weeks, we will provide journal articles for you to read which have direct relevance to your practical classes. In addition, you may wish to look for papers written by the lecturers or referenced in their seminars. If you have trouble accessing a particular paper please don’t hesitate to email the course coordinator to see if they have access. Make sure you try through your university library first though. If you are not on campus, you will need to log-in but this should give you access to everything the university has access to. Some additional books you may find interesting (try the university library):



This course is data-intensive. You will be downloading, manipulating and analysing datasets with many thousands of observations. As a result, you need to be proficient in the use of software programs such as Microsoft Excel and basic statistics. We provide below a list of the minimum assumed knowledge to allow you to get the most out of the course. If you are not comfortable with these topics, please spend some time working through the online tutorials we have outlined below.

Sort and Filter Data:


Doing Calculations and writing formulas in Excel:


Averaging Data:


Plotting in Excel:


Pivot Tables:


Descriptive statistics - In particular, understanding the mean, standard deviation, standard error and the normal distribution. Many videos can be found here:


Learning outcomes are what students know, understand and are able to do on completion of a unit of study. They are aligned with the University's graduate qualities and are assessed as part of the curriculum.

At the completion of this unit, you should be able to:

  • LO1. understand the diversity of Integrated Marine Observing System (IMOS) data and instrumentation types for data collection
  • LO2. access and manage large open-source data sets using online tools and software
  • LO3. formulate and test hypotheses using critical thinking and an evidence-based approach, on topics related to ocean and climate change and variability, major boundary currents, continental shelf processes and biological responses
  • LO4. critically analyse and interpret large data sets using a variety of software programs and tools specifically developed for the unit on the marine environment
  • LO5. understand and apply knowledge of recent marine research on physical and biological oceanography, climate change, molecular ecology, aquaculture, marine biology and marine geosciences in Australia
  • LO6. communicate your results effectively through scientific reporting on your findings

Graduate qualities

The graduate qualities are the qualities and skills that all University of Sydney graduates must demonstrate on successful completion of an award course. As a future Sydney graduate, the set of qualities have been designed to equip you for the contemporary world.

GQ1 Depth of disciplinary expertise

Deep disciplinary expertise is the ability to integrate and rigorously apply knowledge, understanding and skills of a recognised discipline defined by scholarly activity, as well as familiarity with evolving practice of the discipline.

GQ2 Critical thinking and problem solving

Critical thinking and problem solving are the questioning of ideas, evidence and assumptions in order to propose and evaluate hypotheses or alternative arguments before formulating a conclusion or a solution to an identified problem.

GQ3 Oral and written communication

Effective communication, in both oral and written form, is the clear exchange of meaning in a manner that is appropriate to audience and context.

GQ4 Information and digital literacy

Information and digital literacy is the ability to locate, interpret, evaluate, manage, adapt, integrate, create and convey information using appropriate resources, tools and strategies.

GQ5 Inventiveness

Generating novel ideas and solutions.

GQ6 Cultural competence

Cultural Competence is the ability to actively, ethically, respectfully, and successfully engage across and between cultures. In the Australian context, this includes and celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, knowledge systems, and a mature understanding of contemporary issues.

GQ7 Interdisciplinary effectiveness

Interdisciplinary effectiveness is the integration and synthesis of multiple viewpoints and practices, working effectively across disciplinary boundaries.

GQ8 Integrated professional, ethical, and personal identity

An integrated professional, ethical and personal identity is understanding the interaction between one’s personal and professional selves in an ethical context.

GQ9 Influence

Engaging others in a process, idea or vision.

Outcome map

Learning outcomes Graduate qualities

This section outlines changes made to this unit following staff and student reviews.

No changes have been made since this unit was last offered.

How to get to SIMS and where to park

You can travel to SIMS by public transport or by car.

Buses (no. 244) leave from the QVB, York St or from Wynyard Station, Carrington St. The bus stops directly opposite the SIMS Building 19 where your prac classes take place (large conference room). For the timetable please check

Many Sydney buses are pre-paid so make sure you purchase a ticket at the newsagent beforehand. Use an Opal Card for multiple trips.

If you decide to drive to SIMS please ensure you arrive at class on time. A map of how to get to SIMS is available on the SIMS website

Parking is available at an hourly rate or if you have a valid national parks sticker you can park for free for up to 4 hours in designated areas.

Alternatively you can park up in Headland Park, Georges Heights and walk down through the bush. See the course convenor if you need further information.

Work, health and safety

We are governed by the Work Health and Safety Act 2011, Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011 and Codes of Practice. Penalties for non-compliance have increased. Everyone has a responsibility for health and safety at work. The University’s Work Health and Safety policy explains the responsibilities and expectations of workers and others, and the procedures for managing WHS risks associated with University activities.

General Laboratory Safety Rules

  • No eating or drinking is allowed in any laboratory under any circumstances 

  • A laboratory coat and closed-toe shoes are mandatory 

  • Follow safety instructions in your manual and posted in laboratories 

  • In case of fire, follow instructions posted outside the laboratory door 

  • First aid kits, eye wash and fire extinguishers are located in or immediately outside each laboratory 

  • As a precautionary measure, it is recommended that you have a current tetanus immunisation. This can be obtained from University Health Service:


The University reserves the right to amend units of study or no longer offer certain units, including where there are low enrolment numbers.

To help you understand common terms that we use at the University, we offer an online glossary.