William & Mary

Course Descriptions

Descriptions of the required courses are listed below. Not every course is taught every semester. The Undergraduate Catalog and on-line Course Schedule have more information. For details on the more advanced Marine Science courses, see the School of Marine Science catalog.

MSCI 330. Introduction to Marine Science
Spring (3) Shields, Gong
Undergraduate Enrollment: 70
This course provides an overview of physical, chemical, biological, and geological processes operating in the world ocean. The interdisciplinary nature of marine science is emphasized, providing an integrated view of factors that control ocean history, circulation, chemistry, and biological productivity.
(Cross-listed as GEOL 330 and BIOL 230)

MSCI 331. Field Studies in Coastal Marine Environments
This course should follow MSC 330; we encourage students to take this course during the summer following either their freshman or sophomore year.
Summer (3) Luckenbach, Brubaker, Perry
Prerequisites: MSCI 330
Undergraduate Enrollment: 20
Course will be offered at VIMS Eastern Shore Laboratory
This course focuses on fundamental processes in marine science through the examination of the near shore, barrier island, coastal lagoon, and salt marsh environments along Virginia’s outer coast. Through a series of field trips, lectures, laboratory exercises and independent projects, students will examine the fauna and flora of the region and learn how natural and anthropogenic factors shape these coastal ecosystems. Housing is provided in dormitories at the VIMS Eastern Shore Laboratory. Meals are included. Lab fee required. (Cross-listed as GEOL 407, ENSP 404, and BIOL 404)
* MSCI 332. Coastal Marine Habitats in North Wales can be substituted for this course with permission of the Marine Science Minor Advisory Committee

MSCI 401 Marine Science Fundamentals  (3 courses @ 2 credits each for a total of 6 credits)
These courses will be offered at the 400 level and will be cross-listed with the 500-level graduate course with a corresponding difference in assignments. We will recommend that students take these courses after having completed MSCI 331 and anticipate that these courses will be taken primarily by juniors and seniors.

MSCI 401A. Fundamentals of Marine Science, Physical Oceanography
Fall (2) Brubaker, Gong  
Prerequisites: MSCI 330 and MATH 111 or permission of instructor
This course provides an introduction to the various types and scales of motion in the ocean, the global heat budget, major water masses, and processes controlling distributions of temperature and salinity. Discussions on phenomena associated with water motion will include global circulation, wind-driven circulation in ocean basins, tides, coastal upwelling, storm surge, waves, turbulence, and circulation in estuaries.

MSCI 401B. Fundamentals of Marine Science, Chemical Oceanography
Fall (2) Beck 
Prerequisites: MSCI 330 and CHEM 103 or permission of instructor
This course presents an overview of the chemistry of estuaries and the ocean including chemical processes that occur in marine sediments and at the air/sea interface. Topics include the chemical properties of seawater, chemical equilibrium and kinetics, the seawater carbonate system and ocean acidification, the global and oceanic carbon and nitrogen cycles, ion speciation, trace metals, and nutrients, sediment diagenesis, and fundamentals of radioisotope and stable isotope biogeochemistry. Interdisciplinary applications will be emphasized.

MSCI 401C. Fundamentals of Marine Geology
Fall (2) Hein, Kuehl
Prerequisite: MSCI 330
Undergraduate Enrollment: 5
This course provides an introduction to the major topics of marine geology without expecting the student to have a background in geology. The course addresses the age and internal structure of the earth, the processes of plate tectonics including the formation of oceanic crust, seamounts, hydrothermal vents, the characteristics and classification of sediments and the distribution of sediments in the deep sea. Also addressed is the interrelationships among and importance of paleoceanography, climate change, and sea-level change, and the processes and characteristics of various marine, estuarine, and coastal sedimentary environments.
* GEOL 306. Marine Geology (offered alternate years) can be used as a substitute for this course

MSCI 401D. Fundamentals of Marine Science, Biological Oceanography
Fall (2) Steinberg 
Prerequisites: MSCI 330 and BIOL 220 or permission of instructor
Undergraduate Enrollment: 20
This course examines the biology and ecology of marine organisms and how they interact with their environment. Topics include the organisms and their behavior, distribution, and underlying physiology; effects of biology on elemental and nutrient cycles and visa versa; and ecosystem structure and ecological interactions. An interdisciplinary approach will be taken, as biology both depends on and influences ocean chemistry, physics, geology, and climate. The course will emphasize open ocean pelagic systems, but will include many examples from coastal and estuarine systems, as well as shallow and deep-sea benthic systems.

MSCI 401E. Fundamentals of Environmental Chemistry, Toxicology, and Pathobiology
Fall (2) Unger, Vogelbein
Prerequisites: MSCI 330; BIOL 220 and 225; CHEM 103
Undergraduate Enrollment: 5
This course emphasizes ongoing and emerging environmental concerns in the Chesapeake Bay and world ocean. Lectures address basic concepts and mechanism of contaminant chemistry and toxicology, infectious and noninfectious diseases in aquatic organisms. Case histories will be used to illustrate sources, fate and effects of anthropogenic chemical contaminants, and the important role of environmental change on disease in marine and estuarine ecosystems.

MSCI 401F. Fundamentals of Marine Fisheries Science
Spring (2) Graves
Prerequisites: MSCI 330; BIOL 220 and 225
Undergraduate Enrollment: 5
This course will introduce the principles and techniques of fisheries science. Lecture topics include the theory and impacts of fishing, description and status of international, North American and regional fisheries, fisheries oceanography, recruitment processes, single-species and ecosystem-based approaches to stock assessment, fisheries management, and the goals and problems of sustaining an open-access common pool resource.

MSCI 401R. Fundamentals of Marine Science Recitation
Fall and Spring (1) Staff
Co-requisites: MSCI 401A, 401B, 401C, 401D, 401E or 401F
MSCI 401R can be taken twice but the title will change depending on whether the recitation section is biological or physical.  The Biological topic reinforces and augments lecture material presented in MSCI 401D, E and F through discussion, problem sets, and review in advance of tests and quizzes.  It is required for all students enrolled in MSCI 401 D, E or F.  The Physical topic reinforces and augments lecture material presented in MSCI 401A, B and C through discussion, problem sets, and review in advance of tests and quizzes. It is required for all students enrolled in MSCI 401 A, B or C. MSCI 401R may be taken twice to fulfill the Fundamentals of Marine Sciences requirement, once with each topic.