75613 - Introduction to Marine Sciences

Course Unit Page


This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

Climate Action Oceans

Academic Year 2018/2019

Learning outcomes

The course introduces to the principles of marine sciences in terms of geology, oceanography and chemistry. In detail, students will learn on physiographyic and evolutive characteristics of the marine environment, physical and chemical characteristics of water masses. Furthermore,  fundamentals of statistics will be provided as basic information necessary to continue with other disciplines of the MSc.

Course contents

Part 1: Principles of physical oceanography. Main hydrodynamic processes acting at the coast, shelf and in the open sea: oceanic and coastal currents, waves and tides. Sea-level changes at the long-, medium- and short-term. The littoral system: wave- and tide-dominated systems. Deltas and estuaries. Physiography of marine areas, with particolar regard to the Mediterranean Sea. Sediment and gran-size analyses. Marine and coastal sedimentation.

Part 2: Introduction: marine chemodiversity. Basic principles in chemical oceanography. Dissolved and particulate matter. Composition, origin and fate of particles in the water column. Composition of seawater, major and minor constituents, speciation. Salinity. The constancy of major element ratios. The crustal-ocean factory: origin, reactivity and distribution of chemical elements in the ocean. The steady state model, residence time. Biological processes, nutrients, Redfield ratios. Dissolved gas, oxygen, carbon dioxide, solubility and biological pump. The marine carbonate system, principal parameters. Ocean acidification.

Part 3: Role of statistics in the marine sciences, the random variability. Samples and populations. Frequency and probability.. Probability distributions. Statistics and parameters. Sampling distributions, standard error. Estimation, unbiased and biased estimators, confidence intervals. Hypothesis tests, null hypothesis and alternative hypothesis, test statistics, type I and type II errors.. Conditions of validity of statistical methods (assumptions), transformations. Replication and pseudoreplication, target population and sampled population.


Lessons are based on the following texts:

Ricci Lucchi F. – I ritmi del mare. NIS 
Seibold E. and Berger W.H. - The Sea Floor. Springer-Verlag.
Waves, tides and shallow-water processes. The Open University, 1989.

Libes S. - Introduction to marine biogeochemistry. Academic Press, 2009.

Sokal R.R., Rohlf F.J. - Biometry: the principles and practice of statistics in biological research. W.H. Freeman and company, 1995.
Quinn G.P., Keough M.J. - Experimental Design and Data Analysis for Biologists. Cambridge University Press, 2002.

Teaching methods

The course has overall 6 CFU, all of frontal lectures. Part 1 is composed of 3 CFU, Part 2 of 1 CFU e Part 3 of 2 CFU.

Assessment methods

Final written test.

Teaching tools

Lectures are carried out through Power Point presentations; all slides can be downloaded from a web site.

Office hours

See the website of Claudia Romagnoli

See the website of Daniele Fabbri

See the website of Andrea Pasteris