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Course Structure


The Applied Oceans Sciences taught Masters Degree at UCT is a 13-month programme commencing in mid-January every year and comprising coursework (50%) and a short research project for the mini-dissertation (50%)

Conveners: A/Prof Marcello Vichi (Department of Oceanography), Dr Cecile Reed (Departement of Biological Sciences).



The Coursework Component (50%)

This takes place during the first half of the year (January to July), and comprises numerous modules summarised into (more details further down the page:

Foundational module – all students must complete this module
Disciplinary modules – students will select one of two streams (Operational Oceanography stream or Applied Marine Biology stream)
Interdisciplinary modules – students may select some courses as electives to complement the specific disciplinary modules that they choose. 

Coursework Details

  • Foundational modules (10 weeks)

    • Numerical skills and statistics
    • Scientific computing and data management
    • Commercial oceanography
    • Descriptive and instrumental oceanography, sampling techniques
    • Introduction to marine ecology, sampling techniques
    • Scientific writing
  • Disciplinary modules (12 weeks including 2 interdisciplinary electives)

    To choose between Operational Oceanography OR Applied Marine Biology


    Operational Oceanography

    • Operational oceanography
    • Climate and Ocean diagnostics
    • Marine biogeochemistry 
    • Ocean instrumentation and monitoring (+ open ocean cruise) 

    (OR) Applied Marine Biology

    • Marine Conservation
    • Aquaculture
    • Introduction to South African fisheries
    • Decision support for management in marine social-ecological systems
    • Marine environmental law
  • Interdisciplinary Modules (2 modules of your choice to include in your disciplinary module)


    These vary every year, but may include the following options:

    • Global change
    • Ocean and ecosystem modelling
    • Diving course
    • Remote sensing
    • Environmental impact assessments and specialist reports
    • Multivariate Analysis
    • Marine Ecosystems (BIO3002F - Undergraduate Semester Courses)
    • Marine Resources (BIO3017S - Undergraduate Semester Courses)
    • SEA3004F Ocean and atmosphere dynamics (Undergraduate Semester Courses)




Mini-dissertation component (50%)

The dissertation is smaller in scope compared to a dissertation-only degree. Students will be offered topics for research projects during the year according to their interests and performance. Topics may cover any aspect of applied marine science.