BIOL212-23S1 (C) Semester One 2023

Marine Biology and Ecology

15 points

Start Date: Monday, 20 February 2023
End Date: Sunday, 25 June 2023
Withdrawal Dates
Last Day to withdraw from this course:
  • Without financial penalty (full fee refund): Sunday, 5 March 2023
  • Without academic penalty (including no fee refund): Sunday, 14 May 2023


An introduction to the ecology and biology of the marine environment. Description and analysis of marine communities and the biodiversity, ecology and behaviour of marine organisms.

This course provides an introduction to the biology and ecology of the marine environment. It includes descriptions and analyses of marine communities and the biodiversity, ecology and adaptations of marine organisms.   It is an integrated approach to the ecology of marine organisms, their interactions, biotic and abiotic drivers that influence patterns and ecological processes across temperate estuaries, nearshore rocky reefs, deep water pelagic and benthic communities, tropical and polar biomes.  The course also examines human impacts on the marine environment including fisheries and marine conservation.  The Kaikōura field trip and laboratory sessions are an integral part of the course and are designed to complement lectures.

Learning Outcomes

  • At the end of the course, students will have developed the ability to:
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the diversity in form and function of organisms across a variety of ecosystems (assessment task: on-line quizzes & final exam)
    Related graduate attributes: GP1, GP2 (K1, K3), GP5

  • Demonstrate knowledge of select fisheries and conservation management strategies in relation to other indigenous models New Zealand | Aotearoa, Customary Protections Areas (assessment task: on-line quizzes & final exam)
    Related graduate attributes: GP1, GP2, GP3 (K1-7), GP4 GP5  

  • Use taxonomic keys to identify marine organisms (assessment task: laboratory writeup and field trip project report)
    Related graduate attributes: GP1, GP3 (K3), GP5

  • Acquire basic skills in field observation, experimental sampling, data analysis and interpretation (assessment task: field trip projects)
    Related graduate attributes: GP1, GP2, GP3 (K1-5, K7), GP5

  • Synthesise primary scientific literature, reports and iwi management plans/documents to support field and laboratory work (assessment task: field trip project and laboratory writeup)
    Related graduate attributes: GP1, GP2, GP3 (K1-5, K7), GP5

    Transferable Skills | Pūkenga Ngaio

    The following skills are developed in this course:
  • Linnaean and Māori taxonomic identification of marine organisms. The process of taxonomic classification is fundamental to advancement in biology and ecology, as well as your own understanding of ecosystems.
    Related graduate attributes: GP1, GP2, GP3 (K5, K7), GP5

  • Synthesising information from primary literature including mātauranga Māori. This is a skill that underpins the advancement of science and management, and the reflexive development of your own understanding.
    Related graduate attributes: GP1, GP2, GP3 (K1-5, K7), GP5

  • Collecting field data / data sovereignty. Important for Māori, community and research, and in scientific organisations.  
    Related graduate attributes: GP1, GP2, GP3 (K1-5, K7), GP5

  • Analysing data. Important for Māori, community and research, and in scientific organisations.
    Related graduate attributes: GP1, GP2, GP3 (K1-5, K7), GP5

  • Writing a report on findings. Communication of science to different audiences is fundamental to its use and advancement.
    Related graduate attributes: GP1, GP2, GP3 (K1-5, K7), GP5


Timetable Note

Compulsory field trip: 2023
The first semester lecture break field trip is a three-day trip (excluding travel) to Kaikōura: 17 – 20 April (trip 1), 20 – 23 April (trip 2). Dates and the number of streams may change depending on class numbers. You will be advised of Kaikōura trip details early in the first term.  Note that the field trip is compulsory and provides in-term assessment.  If you miss the field trip without a valid reason, you may not be allowed to sit the final exam.

It is compulsory to wear a lab coat and safety glasses in the laboratory.

To purchase approved safety glasses, lab or coats go to
The collection point for purchases is inside the southern entry to the Ernest Rutherford Building, Ernest Rutherford, Chemistry Stores, 130A - NB. closed shoes must be worn in Chemistry Stores.

Disposable gloves are available in the laboratory for those who might need them.

Course Coordinator / Lecturer

John Pirker


Mads Thomsen , Sarah Flanagan and Michelle LaRue

Lab Technician

Jan McKenzie


Assessment Due Date Percentage  Description
Data analysis 5% Due on the completion of field trip
Short Field trip report 5% Due on day 2 of the field trip
Final exam 50%
Online quiz 1 27 Mar 2023 5%
Laboratory assessments 28 Apr 2023 10%
Major field trip report 19 May 2023 20%
Online quiz 2 29 May 2023 5%

Textbooks / Resources

Required Texts

Castro, P. and Huber, ME; Marine Biology ; 11th Edition; McGraw-Hill, 2019.

Recommended reading for additional information on invertebrates
Rupert, EE., Fox, RS. and Barnes, RD. (2004) Invertebrate zoology: A functional evolutionary
approach 7th ed. Brooks/Cole.  QL 362.B261 2004


Electronic Distribution of Course Material: Information about the course, including the course handout, notices, summaries of lectures and other details will be placed on Learn.

Feedback from 2022 Course survey (73.2% response)
1. Materials provided helped me understand what was required to succeed in this course: 4.2
2. The organisation of this course helped me learn: 4.2
3. Workload was appropriate to the level of the course: 4.3
4. Assessments were appropriate for the course: 4.1
5. Where I sought feedback on my assessments I found it helpful: 4.0

The following issues were raised in written feedback by students at the end of the course. The responses were collated by the course coordinator and common responses scored. Action taken in response to feedback is indicated in CAPS.

Positive features
- Good workload factoring in the field trip, labs and report
- Lectures all good, textbook is actually quite fun to read (a rarity!)
- I really enjoyed the field trip! I felt it helped a lot with my understanding
- Lecturers are awesome and always ready to help when you ask
- The labs were awesome and quizzes good.

Negative features (Action/response indicated in CAPS)
- Many students are only just now taking Biostats (I am taking it next sem). The expectations for the statistics side of the course are a little high in my opinion. There definitely needs to be more help sessions and tutors for stats help.
- The feedback from the short report took a bit too long as this would have been helpful for writing the long report.
- Sometimes I was a little lost in the lectures, but again that might be because I didn't do 113.


No bare feet or jandals, or eating of food in the lab.

Additional Course Outline Information


Indicative Fees

Domestic fee $1,100.00

International fee $5,362.00

* All fees are inclusive of NZ GST or any equivalent overseas tax, and do not include any programme level discount or additional course-related expenses.

For further information see School of Biological Sciences .

All BIOL212 Occurrences

  • BIOL212-23S1 (C) Semester One 2023