EOSC 314 (3 cr): The Ocean Environment

EOSC 314

Course Description:

An introduction to the oceans and the processes that have shaped them, their composition and movement, waves, tides, beaches, interactions with the atmosphere and human exploitation of the non-living resources. Not for credit in the Faculties of Science or Applied Science. No background in Science or Mathematics is required. The course is generally not open to first year students.

Intended Student:

This course will be of interest to those who want to broaden their understanding about the physical functioning of the Earth, with a focus on marine systems. A number of general areas of science are introduced, ranging through chemistry, physics and geology, and their applications to the marine environment. This is a course suitable for the non-science student who wants a survey of various scientific disciplines.

This course provides a 3-credit senior science elective that may fulfill certain Arts degree program requirements.

Course Objectives:

By the end of this course, students should be able to:

  • EXPLAIN observations of the oceans in terms of interacting geological, physical, biological, and chemical processes.
  • RECOGNIZE the complex links among processes on land, ocean, atmosphere, and sediments.
  • EXPLAIN how interactions between the ocean and atmosphere influence Earth’s climate.
  • APPLY an evidence-based, logical, scientific approach to the inquiry and response to questions about the oceanic environment.
  • EVALUATE ocean science-related issues faced outside the academe on the basis of evidence presented and knowledge of oceanic processes.
  • ARTICULATE the relevance of ocean science to individuals and to society.

Course Content:

Module A. The Blue Planet

  • Lesson 1. The Science of Oceanography – Introduction
  • Lesson 2. Origins of the Blue Planet
  • Lesson 3. Marine Sediments: The Ocean’s Detritus
  • Lesson 4. Water and Seawater

Module B. Surface Ocean and Thermohaline Circulation

  • Lesson 5. Physical Structure of Ocean Water
  • Lesson 6. Atmospheric Processes and Surface Ocean Circulation
  • Lesson 7. Deep Ocean Circulation
  • Lesson 8. Waves and Water Dynamics
  • Lesson 9. Equilibrium and Dynamic Models of Tides

Module C. The Ocean’s Impact on World Climate

  • Lesson 10. El Niño/La Niña
  • Lesson 11. Carbon Dioxide and the Global Ocean

Module D. The Coastal Ocean and Sea Level Change

  • Lesson 12. Beaches and Shoreline Processes
  • Lesson 13. Estuaries and Coastal Waters of British Columbia
  • Lesson 14. Sea Level Change


Three graded discussions 20 %
One group project 10 %
Three Quizzes 30 %
Final Exam 40 %
100 %

In addition, you must PASS THE FINAL EXAMINATION with an exam mark of at least 50%.

Course Materials:

1. Required Textbook

Trujillo, A.P. and H.V. Thurman, 2010, Essentials of Oceanography (2nd Custom Edition for UBC), Pearson Custom Publishing, 534 pp. ISBN 055753655

2. Course Notes available online on EOSC 314 Course website

EOSC314 Textbook Order Form

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