University of Malta

Study-Unit Description
UOM Main Page
Apply - Admissions 2016
Campus Map button


TITLE Oceanograpy for Engineers

LEVEL 05 - Postgraduate Modular Diploma or Degree Course


DEPARTMENT Geosciences

DESCRIPTION The study-unit is a key building block of the course. It targets to give a comprehensive background in some aspects of physical oceanography that are essential for marine engineering.

The set of lectures offered in this study-unit builds around the following main activities that fall within the remit of marine engineering:
(i) the design, development, production and maintenance of equipment used at sea and on board sea vessels;
(ii) the design and construction of coastal structures and amenities like breakwaters, marinas, beaches, etc., and
(iii) addressing problems associated with coastal development like pollution, waste disposal, erosion, etc.; marine engineers are an essential human resource category in operational oceanography which deals with the routine acquisition of marine data that is essential for added value applications and delivery of marine services.

The study-unit is composed of four main components:

(I) Basic concepts in physical oceanography, dealing with (i) sea water masses, mixing and seasonality; (ii) air-sea interaction; (iii) ocean dynamics (currents and waves); applications in ocean/coastal engineering.

(II) Marine observations, aimed to introduce students to technologies used to measure the sea, and including both in situ and remote sensing techniques; dealing with observing systems used in coastal observatories and in the open sea; introducing engineering and telecommunication aspects for real time acquisition of marine data.

(III) Principles of numerical modeling in marine hydrodynamics: focusing on numerical techniques for simulating and forecasting physical parameters of the sea; the discretization in space and in time; application of numerical modeling principles to simple models; embedded models and ensemble models; examples of operational oceanography systems; and an introduction to data assimilation techniques.

(IV) Sourcing and Analysis of marine data: introducing data portals and marine databases; different type of data and data formats; searching and downloading data from CMEMS; adding value to data.

The sessions will all be delivered in a computer lab so as to adopt a teaching through practice approach. Students will be expected to be acquainted to MATLAB. The session on sourcing and analysis of marine data will be delivered as a practical session.

Study-unit Aims:

The overarching aim of this study-unit is to instill in students the scientific tenets of physical oceanography that need to be part of the portfolio of a professional marine engineer; teaching them how data is acquired by different data acquisition platforms and what are the expected limitations in terms of quality, duration and sampling frequency; introducing students to operational oceanography production chains for real time data delivery; leading students to sourcing and usage of data sets.

Numerical modelling techniques are introduced as a basic tool for hydrodynamical simulations of marine domains, and as an overarching method of design and assessment in a wide range of problem solving situations and applications.

The study-unit serves as a building block for the rest of the course programme.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding
By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

- describe, recognise and apply the basic concepts underlying the physical characteristics and dynamical behaviour of the oceans with appropriate mathematical descriptions;
- link marine data to observation platforms and underlying technologies;
- apprehend numerical modelling basics and understand the role of marine models in forecasting and as a key element of operational oceanography;
- demonstrate knowledge about available marine data resources;
- interpret data in different formats and be able to make high level data visualisation and assessments especially through the use of Matlab.

2. Skills
By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

- relate quantitative understanding of the basic physical laws applied to the ocean continuum;
- apprehend basic literature referring to the marine physical environment;
- access data and information sources on physical oceanography;
- apply high level tools for the scientific presentation and interpretation of oceanographic data.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:

Main Text:

- Ocean Circulation, Brown, Joan Angela Colling, et al. (Open University) Oxford, Pergamon Press 238 pp. (30 Sept. 1989), ISBN-13: 978-0080363691
- Measuring the Oceans from Space (The Principles and Methods of Satellite Oceanography), Ian S Robinson, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg, 2004 Edition (30 Jun. 2004). 670pp., ISBN-13: 978-3540426479
- Elements of Computational Fluid Dynamics, JD Ramshaw, Imperial College Press, (2011), (25 Feb. 2011), 127 pp., ISBN-13: 978-1848167056

Supplementary Reading:

- Operational Oceanography in the 21st Century, A Schiller, GB Andreas, Brassington, B Gary. Springer; 2011 Edition (11 April 2011) 762 pp., ISBN-13: 978-9400703322
- Seawater: Its Composition, Properties and Behaviour. Brown, Evelyn, Angela Colling, et al. (Open University) (1995) Milton Keynes, Pergamon; 2nd Revised Edition (1 Jan. 1989), 168 pp., ISBN-13: 978-0080425184
- Waves, Tides and Shallow-Water Processes, Brown, Joan, Angela Colling, et al. (Open University) Butterworth-Heinemann; 2nd Edition (20 Jan. 2000), 187 pp., ISBN-13: 978-0750642811

STUDY-UNIT TYPE Lecture and Independent Study

Assessment Component/s Resit Availability Weighting
Assignment No 15%
Examination (2 Hours) Yes 85%


The University makes every effort to ensure that the published Courses Plans, Programmes of Study and Study-Unit information are complete and up-to-date at the time of publication. The University reserves the right to make changes in case errors are detected after publication.
The availability of optional units may be subject to timetabling constraints.
Units not attracting a sufficient number of registrations may be withdrawn without notice.
It should be noted that all the information in the study-unit description above applies to the academic year 2017/8, if study-unit is available during this academic year, and may be subject to change in subsequent years.
MSc (Research) and PhD application deadlines
Application Deadlines for Academic Year 2017/18 
Giant Glowing Halos around Distant Quasars
Unexpected Giant Glowing Halos around distant quasors

Log In back to UoM Homepage