Introduction to Marine Biology - From Elements to Ecosystems


Introduction to Marine Biology - From Elements to Ecosystems


Please note: There will be no courses offered in 2017 due to restructuring measures.


Beginners and advanced students appreciate the wide array of contents of this course to approach the largest ecosystem on earth, the sea.

Course directors is biologist Miriam Weber.

Miriam received her PhD from the University of Bremen with a thesis on sediment effects on coral, in collaboration with the Australian Institute of Marine Science and the Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, Bremen. She is a diving instructor and underwater photographer. Miriam has taken part in several scientific expeditions to Antarctica, the tropics, the Mediterranean Sea and to high-alpine lakes. She is coordinating the research activities at the HYDRA Institute for Marine Sciences and has a teaching appointment at the University of Tübingen. Miriam uses technical diving to extend the range for her research and media work.





Contents of the course

This course gives an insight into various aspects of marine biology and its broad range of applications, from biogeochemical processes to ecosystems.

Related subjects such as oceanography, hydrobiology and ecology are included with examples from the Mediterranean Sea.


With small student projects we are able to react to biological phenomena while they occur.

(rare seagrass flowers and seeds)


The starting point for our voyage through marine biology are the cycles of the basic elements: C, H, O, N, P and S. From there we follow the origin of life in the oceans and its evolution from microbes to multicellular organisms, their interactions and habitats. In conclusion the ecosystem of the Mediterranean Sea serves as a case study for the dependance of mankind on the world oceans and the hazards generated by its actions. Legal issues and conservation measures are also addressed.

The students experience the basic principles of life in the oceans through field observations and lab experiments. During this course they learn about the most important groups of marine plants and animals, and their coastal habitats.

Due to its overall approach the course remains fragmentary and focusses on selected examples. Practical tips and support for further studies are provided.


Examples from current research projects are linked with global topics.

(Gulf Stream and plankton organisms)

Main topics

  • Basics of oceanography, biogeochemistry and ecology
  • Origin of life and its evolution in the oceans
  • Marine organisms and their habitats
  • Settlement, reproduction, dispersal, biogeography
  • Special aspects of the Mediterranean Sea
  • Environmental problems and conservation


  • Underwater observation by SCUBA diving and sampling of organisms, from bacteria to fish.
  • Boat-based measurements and sampling.
  • Introduction to underwater sampling techniques (sampling box, corers).
  • Classification of organisms under water, on the shore, and in the lab with microscopes (ZEISS) and special literature.
  • Observation, measurements and experiments in the lab (own samples and by-catch from local fishermen).
  • Oral, photo and video presentations about biogeochemistry, oceanography, systematics and ecology of the organisms and habitats, environmental issues, maritime legislation, conservation.
  • Documentation (drawings, photos and video).
  • Discussions based on video and photo documentations.


  • Current dive medical certificate, not older than 3 years (one year for under 18 and over 40 year old, respectively).
  • Recognized SCUBA diving certificate, at least 1 star (VDTL*, VDST*, CMAS* or similar, PADI OWD or comparable) or booking for the integrated SCUBA diving course.


  • After successful completion of the course a graded certificate will be issued, given the participants fullfilment of the following requirements:
  • Regular attendance of all course hours, successful completion and exams for practical and theoretical units of the SCUBA diving course (if applicable), or preparation of a report of underwater observations, a short presentation during the course, and a written report on the course.

  • Each course is recommended to be rated with 3 ETCS credit points. With additional work (e.g. more detailed course report, presentation at home university) some universities give up to 5 credit points for the participation in the course.



EUR 735,-
*(summer: EUR 785,-)
additional EUR 30,- examination fees only for diving course participants

Included services

10 overnight stays in shared accommodation, dormitory-style (self-catering), eight days of biology class including accompanied diving or SCUBA diving course. Rental of complete diving equipment included.


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