Course Outline

ENS500 Coastal and Marine Ecology

Course Coordinator:Thomas Schlacher ( School:School of Science, Technology and Engineering

2024Semester 1

UniSC Sunshine Coast

Blended learning Most of your course is on campus but you may be able to do some components of this course online.

Please go to for up to date information on the
teaching sessions and campuses where this course is usually offered.

What is this course about?


The oceans harbour a greater diversity of life than any other biome of the planet. In this course you will learn about the diversity of marine habitats, the species inhabiting them, and the physical and chemical factors influencing marine ecosystems. We shall explore rocky shores, sandy beaches, estuaries, mangrove wetlands, reefs and open-water ecosystems. We will emphasise the seminal contributions that marine ecology has made to the broader field of ecology, and teach you fundamental skills in the scientific investigation of marine and coastal ecosystems.

How will this course be delivered?

Activity Hours Beginning Week Frequency
Blended learning
Learning materials – Learning materials that provide fundamental knowledge about how the ocean works and how coastal ecosystems are structured and function. Learning materials typically include online videos of varying length, readings and quizzes. 1hr Week 1 13 times
Tutorial/Workshop 1 – On-campus workshops support learning materials, introduce the content to be covered on field trips and support students in completing the major assessments. 2hrs Week 1 8 times
Fieldwork – Fieldtrips support key concepts presented in both the learning materials and tutorials, and provide opportunities for students to apply their skills in a field setting 8hrs Week 4 2 times

Course Topics

Ocean currents, winds and tides, estuaries, seagrasses, mangroves, reefs, seaweeds and kelps, climate change impacts, marine conservation ecology.

What level is this course?

500 Level (Advanced)

Engaging with new discipline knowledge and skills at an advanced level or deepening existing knowledge and skills within a discipline. Independent application of knowledge and skills in unfamiliar contexts.

What is the unit value of this course?

12 units

How does this course contribute to my learning?

Course Learning Outcomes On successful completion of this course, you should be able to... Graduate Qualities Completing these tasks successfully will contribute to you becoming...
1 Communicate effectively and professionally to informed audiences. Empowered
2 Demonstrate and apply knowledge of major marine ecosystems and the forces that shape marine biodiversity. Knowledgeable
3 Critically analyse and evaluate field data to investigate basic ecological patterns in coastal ecosystems. Creative and critical thinker

Am I eligible to enrol in this course?

Refer to the UniSC Glossary of terms for definitions of “pre-requisites, co-requisites and anti-requisites”.


Enrolled in program SC523


Not applicable


Not applicable

Specific assumed prior knowledge and skills (where applicable)

Not applicable

How am I going to be assessed?

Grading Scale

Standard Grading (GRD)

High Distinction (HD), Distinction (DN), Credit (CR), Pass (PS), Fail (FL).

Details of early feedback on progress

Online quizzes will be available throughout the semester in class, whereby students can submit answers to questions and receive formative feedback on current understanding of the material.

Assessment tasks

Delivery mode Task No. Assessment Product Individual or Group Weighting % What is the duration / length? When should I submit? Where should I submit it?
All 1 Literature Review (or component) Individual 40%
max. 3000 words (excl. references)
Week 5 Online Assignment Submission with plagiarism check
All 2 Literature Review (or component) Individual 40%
max.  1500 words (excl. references) or 
10 minutes
Week 9 Online Assignment Submission with plagiarism check
All 3 Oral Individual 20%
20 minutes and fewer than 30 slides
Week 12 Online Assignment Submission with plagiarism check
All - Assessment Task 1:Ecological Concept Synthesis
Students will be provided with publications that are considered to be of seminal influence for the discovery and development of a particular ecological theme in coastal and marine science.  Under the course coordinator’s guidance, students will further identify additional literature to form a focused and up-to-date collection of literature pertaining to a particular field, question, or environmental issue.  Based on this, students will create a concise summary of the literature that provides a penetrating and modern view of critical scientific developments, pivotal ecological processes, and challenges of a particular topic (Note: themes will generally be related to contemporary management and conservation challenges in the coastal and nearshore environments of the region and beyond)
Product: Literature Review (or component)
The written synthesis will generally mimic a literature review published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal in the field of coastal and marine ecology (teaching staff will give you a few examples).
No. Learning Outcome assessed
Demonstrate that you can locate key papers from the relevant literature, evaluate the currency and breadth of coverage of a topic in the literature, and identify any significant knowledge gaps.
Demonstrate that you can distil the core structures and mechanisms defining a theme from the literature.
Demonstrate that you can write using appropriate style and prose, correct punctuation and grammar, and consistent use of accurate, discipline-based vocabulary.
All - Assessment Task 2:Fact Sheet or Video Vignette
To produce a precis of an ecological process or structure.  The precis will be educational and aimed at a broad audience.  The coverage of the topic must be objective, and any conclusions drawn must be balanced and accurately reflect the ambit of information contained in the global, peer-reviewed literature.
Product: Literature Review (or component)
Students can choose to produce a short video or write a more conventional fact-sheet.  Irrespective of the format, the emphasis must be on a visually-attractive piece that conveys key messages effectively and accurately.
No. Learning Outcome assessed
Demonstrate that you can distil the information down to the core elements and fundamental aspects of available knowledge that define and describe a topic or issue.
Demonstrate that you can create a communication product that is balanced and can be understood by a broad audience.
Demonstrate that you can write using appropriate style and prose, correct punctuation and grammar, and consistent choice of accurate, discipline-based vocabulary.
All - Assessment Task 3:Seminar
To create and deliver a talk (oral presentation) that sketches the key features and characteristics of an ecological structure/system/process.  The presentation should be brief enough to keep the audience engaged whilst expansive and detailed enough to cover the aspects that are essential for an understanding of the key messages.
Product: Oral
Whilst the ‘standard’ form of presentation that is widely used in science and business is a f2f talk, supported by a suite of PowerPoint slides, here we are flexible: we have catholic tastes when it comes to communication and the arts (check with the course coordinator first).  Thus students are free to choose any format as long as it is practical, professional, and respectful.  For formal talks, students should aim for a maximum duration of 20 minutes (shorter is better) and limit their supporting slides to fewer than 30.
No. Learning Outcome assessed
Demonstrate that you can extract the salient messages from a larger body of information and can highlight the facets that define and describe a topic.
Demonstrate that you can communicate the essential facts to an audience in a form that contains accurate facts and is ethically sound.
Demonstrate that you can create communication material (e.g. slides, videos, audio recordings, interviews, sculptures, paintings, installations) that is original, engaging, and respectful.

Directed study hours

A 12-unit course will have total of 150 learning hours which will include directed study hours (including online if required), self-directed learning and completion of assessable tasks. Student workload is calculated at 12.5 learning hours per one unit.

What resources do I need to undertake this course?

Please note: Course information, including specific information of recommended readings, learning activities, resources, weekly readings, etc. are available on the course Canvas site– Please log in as soon as possible.

Prescribed text(s) or course reader

There are no required/recommended resources for this course.

Specific requirements


How are risks managed in this course?

Risk assessments have been performed for all field activities and low to moderate levels of health and safety risk exists. Moderate risks may include working in an Australian bush setting, working with people, working outside normal office hours for example. It is your responsibility to review course material, search online, discuss with lecturers and peers and understand the health and safety risks associated with your specific course of study and to familiarise yourself with the University’s general health and safety principles by reviewing the online induction training for students, and following the instructions of the University staff.

What administrative information is relevant to this course?

Assessment: Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is the ethical standard of university participation.  It ensures that students graduate as a result of proving they are competent in their discipline.  This is integral in maintaining the value of academic qualifications. Each industry has expectations and standards of the skills and knowledge within that discipline and these are reflected in assessment.

Academic integrity means that you do not engage in any activity that is considered to be academic fraud; including plagiarism, collusion or outsourcing any part of any assessment item to any other person.  You are expected to be honest and ethical by completing all work yourself and indicating in your work which ideas and information were developed by you and which were taken from others. You cannot provide your assessment work to others. You are also expected to provide evidence of wide and critical reading, usually by using appropriate academic references.

In order to minimise incidents of academic fraud, this course may require that some of its assessment tasks, when submitted to Canvas, are electronically checked through Turnitin.  This software allows for text comparisons to be made between your submitted assessment item and all other work to which Turnitin has access.

Assessment: Additional Requirements

Eligibility for Supplementary Assessment

Your eligibility for supplementary assessment in a course is dependent of the following conditions applying:

The final mark is in the percentage range 47% to 49.4%
The course is graded using the Standard Grading scale
You have not failed an assessment task in the course due to academic misconduct

Assessment: Submission penalties

There is a 1% penalty for every day a submission is late. 


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Study help

For help with course-specific advice, for example what information to include in your assessment, you should first contact your tutor, then your course coordinator, if needed.

If you require additional assistance, the Learning Advisers are trained professionals who are ready to help you develop a wide range of academic skills. Visit the Learning Advisers web page for more information, or contact Student Central for further assistance: +61 7 5430 2890 or

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Ability Advisers ensure equal access to all aspects of university life. If your studies are affected by a disability, learning disorder mental health issue, injury or illness, or you are a primary carer for someone with a disability or who is considered frail and aged, AccessAbility Services can provide access to appropriate reasonable adjustments and practical advice about the support and facilities available to you throughout the University.

To book a confidential appointment go to Student Hub, email or call 07 5430 2890.

Links to relevant University policy and procedures

For more information on Academic Learning & Teaching categories including:

  • Assessment: Courses and Coursework Programs
  • Review of Assessment and Final Grades
  • Supplementary Assessment
  • Central Examinations
  • Deferred Examinations
  • Student Conduct
  • Students with a Disability

For more information, visit

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