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BIOL 104 Oceanography

This course is designed to introduce the student to the four major disciplines in ocean sciences: biological, chemical, geological and physical oceanography. These areas are studied by describing the composition of the oceans and then by examining the major processes which are active there, such as plate tectonics, ocean circulation, wave and tidal action and food webs. In addition, the course will cover man’s use of the ocean as a natural resource and as a waste disposal site. (3 hours weekly).

Credits:          3
Instructor:     Sladjana Medic

Overall Course Objectives | Major Course Topics | Course Format |Orientation | Course Requirements | Texts and Materials | Exams

Overall Course Objectives

Once you have completed this course you will be able to:

  • Explain how our planet, its oceans and its life forms originated.
  • Describe, in general terms, the geography of the world's oceans.
  • Understand and explain plate tectonics.
  • Describe the chemical and physical properties of seawater.
  • Describe the processes that characterize water movement in the word's oceans.
  • Describe the relationship between oceans and climate.
  • Describe the type and distribution of ocean sediments, the processes by which they are deposited, and how the coastline influences this process.
  • Describe the organisms that live in the ocean and the factors that control their diversity.
  • Describe the natural resources available from the ocean and the ocean's role as a waste disposal site.
Major Course Topics
  • Describe the origin of the solar system, the Earth, and the ocean basins.
  • Compare and contrast historical and current ocean-related measurement techniques.
  • Describe the unique properties of water and seawater in particular
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the physical and chemical processes that affect the character of beaches and shorelines in general.
  • Appreciate the biological adaptations of organisms living in the intertidal region.
  • Discuss the concept of plate tectonics and how it unifies many marine geological observations.
  • Compare and contrast active and passive continental margins.
  • Visualize the topography of the sea floor.
  • Define the classification of island types.
  • Describe the Earth's radiation balance and how that drives atmospheric circulation.
  • Recognize the processes that drive oceanic circulation.
  • Discuss how waves are formed and why they break.
  • Identify the forces responsible for tides.
  • Classify and describe marine plankton.
  • Recognize the hierarchy of marine organisms.
  • Recognize and discuss the various adaptations of marine organisms.
  • Identify methods of symbiosis.
  • Demonstrate and understand the behavior of light and sound in the open ocean.
  • Compare and contrast the tropics and polar oceans.
  • Articulate the problems and issues associated with exploitation of biological and mineral resources from the sea.
Course Format
  • Is not self-paced. The course material is sequential. Assignments are to be completed in the order they are assigned. 
  • Does not require on-campus meetings, except for four tests that are taken . throughout the semester during the week assigned in the Test Center. (For more information on taking exams, see the "Exams" section below).
  • Some of the types of learning activities or assignments that the student will be required to complete are:
    • Read weekly assigned text pages
    • View and study the Power Point Lesson Presentations that accompanies each week’s assigned lessons.
    • Weekly discussion questions will be posted within the class Bulletin Board. Answers should be posted in the timeframe indicated.


This course does not have a face-to-face orientation.

Course Requirements
  • Review the “What you should know before you register” section of the Distance Learning Homepage.
  • Four tests, each consisting of multiple choice questions and short essay questions. 
  • Weekly discussion questions.
Texts and Materials

To visit our bookstore's online sales site, please visit and follow the instructions for selecting textbooks.

The following plug-ins are required for this course:

  • Flash
  • Internet Explorer
  • PowerPoint Viewer, if you don’t have the full version of Microsoft PowerPoint

For purposes of verification and assessing learning outcomes, this course has proctored tests at the HCC Testing Center for students in the local region or at a regional institution for remote students. The tests will each have a flexible window of one week during which it needs to be taken rather than a single date and time.

If you have any questions or comments about this course, please send a message to Sladjana Maksimovic-Medic,

Last updated on 30-March-14 © Howard Community College, 2000

Student Profile - Maribel