Teach the Earth > Oceanography > Course Descriptions > Introduction to Oceanography

Introduction to Oceanography

Branwen Williams

Claremont McKenna-Pitzer-Scripps Colleges,
Private four-year institution, primarily undergraduate


Oceanography is a multidisciplinary science that applies physics, geology, chemistry, and biology to the study of the oceans. Topics covered will include formation of the oceans, interaction of the ocean with the atmosphere, influx and distribution of chemical compounds, carbonate system, and nutrient content.

Subject: Geoscience:Oceanography
Resource Type: Course Information
Grade Level: College Lower (13-14)
Theme: Teach the Earth:Course Topics:Oceanography, Teach the Earth:Teaching Environments:Intro Geoscience
Earth System Topics: Oceans
Course Size:
less than 15

Course Context:

This is an upper-division science elective course with prerequisites of one year of science. The course emphasizes geological, physical, and chemical oceanography. The course has no lab and assumes students have no prior oceanography experience.

Course Goals:

By the end of the semester, students will be able to:
  • Apply basic principles of physics, chemistry, geology, and biology as they relate to the oceanography.
  • Integrate multiple lines of evidence to investigate an interdisciplinary problem.
  • Quantitatively address problems in oceanography.
  • Critically read and evaluate a scientific paper.
  • Communicate orally and in writing an important current topic in oceanography.

How course activities and course structure help students achieve these goals:

Classroom activities and homework assignments force the students to synthesize course material to address a specific oceanographic question.

Students present paper discussions several times a semester, and are in turn required to produce their own review paper and present that paper to the class at the end of the semester.


Students will be assessed through weekly homeworks and paper discussions, a term paper and presentation, and three exams.


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