Unit description

Examines local and ocean climate systems and the way humans are altering the global climate, the impact that this may have on individual organisms and ecosystems, and the capacity for organisms to acclimatise or adapt to these changes. Specifically examines changes in the oceans carbon cycle, ocean acidification and ocean warming. Examines how marine organisms and communities may be affected by, adapt and acclimatise to ocean acidification and warming. Examines how overharvesting and habitat alteration is causing unprecedented shifts in marine biodiversity and community structure. This unit includes a Masters Tutorial component in which students critically analyse advanced issues in the field.

Unit content

Topic 1 The marine CaCO3 cycle and ocean acidification

Topic 2 Biological impacts of ocean acidification

  • Effect on invertebrates, early life histories and natural variation
  • Fish and behaviour
  • Seaweeds
  • Ecological interactions

Topic 3 Laboratory Practical 1: Effect of ocean acidification on growth and feeding by herbivores

Topic 4 Climate weather and warming

  • The greenhouse effect
  • Major greenhouse gasses
  • Radiative forcing
  • Emission trends and predictions
  • Ocean warming and the EAC
  • Winds and currents
  • El Niño/La Niña

Topic 5 Laboratory Practical 2: Effects of ocean acidification and warming on early development of sea urchins

Topic 6 Biological effects of warming

Three universal effects of climate change:

  • Effect 1: Shifts in distribution - sea urchins, fish and seaweeds
  • Effect 2: Changes in phenology - Warming and metabolic theory - Bergmann's rule - Temperature size rule
  • Effect 3: Declining body size - Sea ice retreat

Topic 7 Interactions between warming and acidification

Topic 8 Oxygen minimum zones

Topic 9 Other stressors: trophic downgrading and shifting baselines

Topic 10 Acclimation and adaptation

Topic 11 Seaweeds, bacteria and warming

Learning outcomes

Unit Learning Outcomes express learning achievement in terms of what a student should know, understand and be able to do on completion of a unit. These outcomes are aligned with the graduate attributes. The unit learning outcomes and graduate attributes are also the basis of evaluating prior learning.

Learning outcomes and graduate attributes

Prescribed texts

Session 2

  • No prescribed texts.
Prescribed texts may change in future study periods.

Teaching and assessment


Intensive offerings may or may not be scheduled in every session. Please refer to the timetable for further details.

Southern Cross University employs different teaching methods within units to provide students with the flexibility to choose the mode of learning that best suits them. SCU academics strive to use the latest approaches and, as a result, the learning modes and materials may change. The most current information regarding a unit will be provided to enrolled students at the beginning of the study session.

Fee information


Commonwealth Supported courses
For information regarding Student Contribution Amounts please visit the Student Contribution Amounts.
Commencing 2016 Commonwealth Supported only. Student contribution band: 2

Fee paying courses
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Please check the international course and fee list to determine the relevant fees.