OCEA10: introduction to oceanography

Becca Walker

Mt San Antonio College,
Two Year College


Even though the majority of the Earth's surface is covered by seawater, the average person is less aware of what is happening in the ocean than what is happening on land. In this course, we will work together to answer several fundamental questions:
Which factors control life in the ocean? How do we know what we know about the ocean? What's at the bottom of the ocean? How does the water in the ocean move? How are human activities and climate change altering the ocean? OCEA 10 provides an introduction to the ocean environment, including geological, chemical, physical, and biological oceanography topics.

Course Size:

Course Context:

This is an introductory course with no prerequisites and is not a prerequisite for other courses. The majority of the students taking the course are doing to to satisfy their physical science general education requirement. The course has an optional lab--some students take lecture and lab concurrently, other students take lecture first and lab a subsequent semester, and other students take only lecture.

Course Goals:

  • Students will be able to increase their understanding of the geology, chemistry, physics, and biology of the oceans.
  • Students will understand how Southern California's proximity to the ocean influences its weather, economy, natural hazards, and the lives of its residents.
  • Students will understand how the Earth's oceans, atmosphere, and glaciers influence one another, how these parts of the Earth system are changing, and how past and present civilizations have adapted to climate variability and climate change.
  • Students will become comfortable making qualitative and quantitative observations.
  • Students will gain familiarity reading and interpreting maps, photographs, cross-sections, graphs, and other data.
  • Students will become aware of the impact that their actions have on the marine environment.

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

Course structure: Class meetings include lecture, individual and small group work, small and large group discussions, and a variety of short in-class exercises during which course concepts are applied to oceanographic problems.

Assessment: Assessment strategies include instructor observations during in-class exercises/small group discussions; evaluation of group summaries of in-class work and reflective writing; and evaluation of individual work (exams and preparation exercises/homework.)



Walker: Mt. SAC oceanography syllabus (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 131kB Jun9 13)