Introductory Oceanography

Alfred Hochstaedter

Peninsula College,
Two Year College


This course introduces basic oceanography concepts such as seafloor features, plate tectonics, atmospheric and oceanic circulation, and waves.

Course Size:

Course Context:

This is an introductory course with a required lab that must be taken concurrently. About 80% of the students take the course to satisfy a physical science general education requirement. About 10% of the students who take the course go on to major in some type of Earth Science.

Course Goals:

Students should be able to:

  • draw a cross section across unfamiliar sections of seafloor and draw a cross section showing basic plate tectonic processes such as divergence, convergence, and transform motion.
  • interpret wind direction from maps of atmospheric pressure.
  • interpret the origin of deep-ocean water masses given their temperature and salinity characteristics.
  • interpret the broad and general depositional setting of sediments given their grain size and compositional characteristics.
  • describe locations on navigational maps using longitude and latitude.
  • describe direction or bearing on a navigational map using the compass rose.
  • predict how two fluids will interact given information about their relative densities.


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

Skills are assessed through labs, test questions, and a final project.

Skills Goals

The main skill goal I'm after is use of the scientific method.

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

This skill is assessed through labs and test questions, mainly on the final.

Attitudinal Goals

I don't have too many of these. I just try to teach the students how to think.



Oceanography Syllabus (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 29kB Jun13 13)