Graduate Courses in Marine Biology


Course Description:

The objectives of the course are to:(1) explore what it is to be a graduate student at Memorial University; (2) gain an understanding of the process underlying science and the significant ethical issues that confront a biologist; (3) explore the “culture” and responsibilities of modern research and science (such as responsibility to society, etc); and (4) develop, draft and present a preliminary research proposal for the M.Sc. or Ph.D degree (to be peer reviewed). The course will address scientific philosophy, research ethics, grant and research writing and presentation, accessing resources and support, safety and training requirements during research activities, budgeting, and career strategies.

Course Format:

The class format will be participatory discussions, case studies, visiting speakers and student seminars. PhD students will be expected to lead at least one discussion on a topic of relevance to the course.

Course Evaluation:

As the course is pass or fail, evaluation is based on class participation and successful completion and presentation of a preliminary research proposal, as well as the constructive review of other student proposals.


OCSC 7100: Biological Oceanography

Course Description:

Biological Oceanography is a core course in the Graduate Program in Marine Biology offered by the Department of Ocean Sciences. Students in other programs and departments are welcome to take it. The aim of this course is to provide students with a general understanding of the biological processes that occur in oceanic and coastal environments. The course will progressively build on the theme that the geological, chemical, and physical environments play a key role within and among biological communities. The course will begin by providing a general theoretical background and framework for subsequent invited seminars by local biological oceanographers. Most of the material used in this course will be derived from the current scientific literature. The course will also foster critical appraisal of this literature, as well as communication skills applicable to oceanographic research.

Course Format:

One session per week: OSC Challenger Room, Wednesday, 9:00-11:40 a.m.

Course Evaluation:

Early course examination 20%

Weekly critiques of articles (8x5% each) 40%

Oral Presentations/Discussion (last two weeks) 25%

Class Participation 15%


OCSC 7200: Adaptations to the Marine Environment

Course Description:

Covering more than 70% of the planet, the oceans are a huge and dynamic environment that nevertheless contains a diversity of distinct habitats which can be defined by specific conditions/regimes of salinity, temperature, light, pressure, oxygen levels, current, nutrient sources, etc. Marine organisms have therefore developed a number of mechanisms (at the behavioural, organismal, cellular and genetic levels) that allow them to become uniquely adapted to more delimited niches, or to tolerate a wide range of environmental conditions. For example, in the intertidal zone, marine organisms must withstand wave action, and periodic exposure to the sun and air; in the deep sea, they face crushing pressures and constant darkness; in estuaries, they experience significant daily and seasonal variations in salinity, temperature, oxygen levels and other factors.
Using a combination of lectures, student presentations and discussions, this course will provide an overview of the fascinating adaptations displayed by marine organisms, as well as opportunities for more in-depth assessments of particular functions or processes. Marine habitats (e.g. deep sea, polar environments, intertidal) will be used to highlight specific ecological, physiological and molecular responses (e.g. photoadapatation, symbiosis, host-pathogen interactions, life-history strategies, signaling/communication, chemosynthesis, metabolic restructuring). Students will also explore adaptations specific to particular taxa, the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying a variety of adaptations, and the influence of anthropogenic disturbances/pressures on marine organisms.

Course Format:

One 3 hour session per week

Course Evauluation:

6 Written Paper Critiques (6x4%) 24%

3 Quizzes (3x8% each) 24%

3 Short Presentations (3x7%) 21%

1 Major Presentation 20%

Class Participation 11%


OCSC 7300: Plankton Dynamics

Course Description:

This course will examine the selected aspects of the ecology, food web interactions and dynamics of marine plankton (i.e. bacterioplankton, phytoplankton and zooplankton). The focus of this course will be to evaluate the interactions among the different trophic levels, and the interactions of food webs with upper ocean biogeochemical processes.

Course Format:

Classes will meet once per week for approximately 3 hours.

Course Evaluation: 

Oral presentation 25%

Research Proposal 20%

Term paper 25%


OCSC 7400: Fisheries Resource Management

Course Description:

This graduate studies course takes a global view of marine fisheries resource management, with a focus on the failure of governments to prevent the collapse of many major commercial fisheries. The objectives, principles and quantitative theory of fisheries management are reviewed. Classroom discussions include the role of industry, federal and regional governments, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in managing living marine resources, both wild stocks and cultured species.

Course Evaluation:

Midterm Exam 50%

Final Exam 50%