3 x 1-hour lectures weekly
5 x 3-hour practicals per semester
5 x 2-hour computer labs per semester
12 x 5-hour independent studies per semester
10 x 1-hour on-line exercises per semester
Assumed knowledge
SACE Stage 2 (Year 12) Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry or equivalent is desirable.
Assignment(s), Quiz
Topic description

This topic has no formal pre-requisites and is open to all students with some basic knowledge, appreciation of, and interest in, the marine environment and how it functions.

The topic provides an overview of the processes which:

  • Control and modify the physical and chemical structure of the oceans and estuaries
  • Create oceanic currents, waves and tides
  • Shape the functioning of marine food webs

While this topic introduces students to basic scientific concepts needed to understand key dynamical features of the oceans, the focus is often placed on processes, such as nutrient upwelling, that are pivotal to the creation of marine food webs. This topic also lets students appreciate the importance of scientific understanding of physical processes in the ocean and the forces behind them for environmental pollution and management problems.

Educational aims

This topic aims to develop within students an understanding of the key principles and processes that are critical in the understanding of the role that the ocean plays for human society.

Expected learning outcomes
On completion of this topic you will be expected to be able to:

  1. Understand the key properties of seawater and the distribution of water masses in the oceans
  2. Describe cycles and processes which control the distribution of water mass properties in the oceans
  3. Describe the physical processes and forces controlling the dynamics of ocean currents and waves including tides
  4. Understand the interlink between physical and biological processes in the creation of marine life

Key dates and timetable

(1), (2)

Each class is numbered in brackets.
Where more than one class is offered, students normally attend only one.

Classes are held weekly unless otherwise indicated.


If you are enrolled for this topic, but all classes for one of the activities (eg tutorials) are full,
contact your College Office for assistance. Full classes frequently occur near the start of semester.

Students may still enrol in topics with full classes as more places will be made available as needed.

If this padlock appears next to an activity name (eg Lecture), then class registration is closed for this activity.

Class registration normally closes at the end of week 2 of each semester.

Classes in a stream are grouped so that the same students attend all classes in that stream.
Registration in the stream will result in registration in all classes.
  Unless otherwise advised, classes are not held during semester breaks or on public holidays.