Oceans Through Time


How does the ocean ‘work’? And how has this changed over time? This module will introduce the basics of physical, chemical, and biological oceanography (e.g., thermohaline circulation, currents/gyres, residence times, marine food webs, the biological pump). Building on the Yr 1 ‘Earth History’ module, this module will cover the evolution of the biogeochemical ocean system, from early Earth at the dawn of life through to the human impacts on oceans in the Anthropocene.

Building on the Yr 1 ‘Earth Systems’ module, this module will also cover the interactions between the ocean and other parts of the Earth system (atmosphere, ice, marine sediments, and the solid earth). This course will be taught via a mixture of lectures and inquiry-based practicals. This course is strongly recommended for any students considering the Yr 3 ‘Palaeoclimates’ or ‘Climate Change and the Earth System’ modules.

By the end of the module students should be able to:

  • Be able to formulate the main patterns and drivers of ocean circulation and global biogeochemical cycles
  • Demonstrate understanding of the timescales over which the various ocean processes occur including performing simple calculations (e.g., residence times)
  • Show a detailed understanding of the key changes the ocean has undergone from the early Earth through to the Anthropocene


  • Examination