The University of Newcastle, Australia
Available in 2019

Course handbook


This course 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


    • 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 or MARI2500 Coastal and Marine Ecosystem Services

    Assessment items

    Essay: Essays/Written Assignments

    Proposal / Plan: Proposal plan for report

    Presentation: Presentation

    Report: Report

    Exhibition / Poster: Conceptual model

    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.
    • Field Study: 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

    Callaghan and Ourimbah

    Field Study

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

    Integrated Learning Session

    Online 2 hour(s) per Week for 6 Weeks


    Face to Face On Campus 3 hour(s) per Week for 5 Weeks