The University of Newcastle, Australia
Available in 2019

Course handbook


Provides an examination of the key elements and complex processes (physical, biogeochemical and biological) that shape and influence estuarine and coastal ecology. The course will explore the highly dynamic nature of estuaries and coasts through study of a wide variety of coastal systems, including coastal lagoons, coastal embayments and river estuaries. Students will examine the effects of catchment development on nutrient and sediment loads and the consequences for biological production and biodiversity. The course will also address issues of ecosystem functioning, appropriate ecosystem monitoring programs and the use of key indicators as a measure of ecosystem health.

All lectures are recorded and the practical component is completed within three weeks of semester.

This course has a compulsory field trip component. Details and costs will be advised in the course outline and on the course Blackboard site prior to the start of the semester.

Availability2019 Course Timetables


  • Semester 2 - 2019

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of the course students will be able to:

1. Evaluate coastal habitats and the physical processes that contribute to their formation

2. Analyse the important ecological processes that operate in estuaries and the coastal zone

3. Evaluate human and natural impacts on estuarine and coastal ecosystems and how organisms respond and adapt to these impacts

4. Analyse and synthesise information about assessments of ecosystem health and management processes in NSW


The following topics are investigated:

  • Basic physical/chemical nature, origin and formation of estuaries.
  • Physical, chemical and biological factors of importance to the estuarine and coastal environment
  • The ecological processes occurring within coastal ecosystems and the role of nutrient cycling, productivity, trophodynamics and energy flows
  • The patterns of spatial and temporal variability in the abundance of estuarine and coastal organisms in relation to coastal ecosystems
  • The effects of human activities or anthropogenic disturbance on the ecology of estuaries and coasts
  • Recent and current management issues in Australian coastal ecosystems



Assumed knowledge

ENVS2004 Ecology

MARI2320 Marine Ecology

Assessment items

Essay: Essays/Written Assignments

Report: Report

Formal Examination: Examination: Formal

Compulsory Requirements

In order to pass this course, each student must complete ALL of the following compulsory requirements:

General Course Requirements:

  • Field Study: Attendance Requirement - Students must attend a minimum number of these sessions. - This course will include a compulsory 3 day/2 night (Friday to Sunday) field camp. Students will only be permitted to miss the field camp in cases of documented adverse circumstances. Due to the need to book accommodation, arrange staffing and field sampling equipment it will not be possible to reschedule the camp for those students. In these cases students will be expected to conduct a more extensive literature review and develop an expanded methods section and discussion for the written report in lieu of participating in the field camp.
  • Practical: Induction Requirement - Students must attend and pass the induction requirements before attending these sessions. - In order to participate in this course students must complete a compulsory safety induction.

Contact hours


Field Study

Face to Face Off Campus 27 hour(s) per Term Full Term


Face to Face On Campus 2 hour(s) per Week for Full Term


Face to Face On Campus 3 hour(s) per Week for 3 Weeks