Diploma in Oceanography


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Diploma in Oceanography

Oceanography is also often known as Marine science, and is the study of the world’s oceans and the processes within it. The world is made up of 70% of the Earth’s surface so we start by looking at how they are divided into oceans and the seas. Do you know the difference? We look at how oceans formed, have changed, their geology, biology, its make-up, impact on climate, tides and waves, their history and geological past. Little was known of the oceans except of the currents and topmost few kilometres before the 19th century. It was not until the Challenger expedition of 1872-6 which surveyed, explored and researched the world’s ocean, that great advance was made to our knowledge of the oceans, and the planet as a whole.

Course Structure

  • Introduction to the Oceans and Oceanography
  • Maths for Oceanography
  • The Ocean Basins
  • Properties of Seawater
  • Currents and Circulation
  • Waves and Tides
  • The oceans and Climate
  • Palaeoceanography
  • Biological Oceanography
  • Careers in Oceanography

Course Content:


Module 1 – Introduction to the Oceans and Oceanography


This first unit of the Diploma in Oceanography provides a foundation for the rest of the course. It starts by discussing the interdisciplinary nature of oceanography from a Biological, Chemical, Geological and Physical perspective. It involves mathematics and many calculations, such as the speed and direction of currents, routine measurements of the movement of the seas, oceans and atmosphere. Skills to research the different aspects of oceanography are built by investigative skills. Research of the past and the present helps us make predictions, e.g. about impending storms and identifies trends:

  • What is oceanography
  • Biological oceanography
  • Chemical oceanography
  • Geological oceanography
  • Physical oceanography
  • Operational oceanography
  • The Oceans of the World
  • Location of the Oceans and the Seas
    • The Oceans
    • The Seas
  • Carrying out Oceanography research
  • Quality of information
  • Evaluating information


Module 2 – Maths for Oceanography


In this second unit, Oceanographers use mathematics in much of their work. In order to collect data and interpret it correctly to make accurate (as possible!) predictions about the impact on e.g. our climate, a thorough grounding in basic mathematical skills is required. This section appears early in the course so that as you study the remaining modules you will have the mathematical skills needed to help in your studies. This section of the course covers the following topics:

  • Scientific units of measurement
  • Power, Indices, Scientific Notation
  • Order of magnitude
  • Significant figures and decimal places
  • Statistics
    • A. Mean and standard deviation
    • B. Mode and median
    • C. Samples and populations
  • Graphs and charts
  • Basic Algebra
  • Basic trigonometry
  • Summary


Module 3 – The Ocean Basins


This unit looks first looks at how the earth was formed in its present structure – its separation into continents and the seas. We then look at the specific 5 main ocean basins in detail. How did they stretch out from the continental masses through plate tectonics, and how exactly did the basins form, move and get characteristically shaped (Bathymetry), e.g. Iceland was shaped by submarine volcanoes. Each aspect of the geology of the basins is labelled, accounted for and the diversity between each is shown. Students study how these basins continue to be shaped today. The unit is divided as follows:

  • Topography of the ocean basin and Plate tectonics
  • How the ocean form
  • Plate tectonics and continental drift
  • The age of the oceans and bathymetry
  • Types of rocks found in the ocean basins
    • A. Terrogenous
    • B. Biogenous
    • C. Hydrogenous
    • D. Igneous Rock
    • E. Sedimentary Rock
    • F. Metamorphic Rock
    • G. Stratification


Module 4 – Properties of Seawater


Unit 4 looks at the other major component of the sea, the basins are full of sea water. The topography of the oceans affects the sea water, its structure, composition, and therefore it’s Biology – what lives within the internal environment and how it is sustained, and how light and sound travel through it. We start by looking at the Chemistry and properties of water, and how this affects the oceans, e.g. water freezes to dense ice which floats on top of sea water so that organisms and fish underneath do not die during the winter. This unit is divided into:

  • Chemistry terminology
    • A.Atoms
    • B.Protons
    • C.Elements, molecules, compounds
  • The main properties of water
    • A.Specific heat capacity
    • B.Solvent
    • C.Density
    • D.Surface tension
  • Variation between oceans
    • A. Variation in density
    • B. Variation in salinity
    • C. Variation in temperature
    • D. Variation in light
  • Chemical composition of Seawater
  • Transmission of Sound (Sonar)
  • Transmission of Light


Module 5 – Currents and Circulation


The oceans circulate around the world and move to create different types of currents and resulting climates, including extreme weather such as El Niño. This is crucial to human life as its affects all aspects of our life from our weather (winds and atmospheric pressure), the seasons, and climate change and the impact on the lands it meets. Currents can also be used to distribute energy and modern technology is helping us harness and use this energy more easily. The unique properties of water help maintain temperatures so that, for example the Gulf Stream helps warm the UK.

  • The main types of currents
  • Gyres
    • A. Subtropical Gyres
    • B. Polar Gyres
    • C. Vertical currents
  • Subsurface or Deep currents
  • Currents in estuaries
  • Effects on climate
    • A. El Niño
    • B. La Niña
    • C. Climate change
  • Other features of currents
  • Measurements of currents
    • A. Eurelian measurements
    • B. Water drifters
    • C. Acoustic Doppler Current Profilers
    • D. Shore-based current meters
    • E. Radar altimeters
  • Energy production from currents


Module 6 – Waves and Tides


This module covers the classification of waves and what causes tides, and their relevance to the marine environment and ecosystem. We will look at how waves, e.g. affect beaches and the shape of coasts (through deposition or erosion), flooding or the impact of anomalies such as Tsunamis. Again both transport and can be used to harness energy. Students will study the following topics:

  • The classification of deep-water and shallow-water waves
  • What causes the different types of tides
  • The principles of sediment transport and deposition
  • How tides and waves shape the shores
  • How tides and waves can provide an energy source


Module 7 – The Oceans and Climate


This module explains in greater depth the ways in which the oceans (and the specific properties of water) are linked to weather patterns and climate. Discussion about the theories of how climate might change in our future, and related issues such as how human influence may cause possible climate disasters. Why is there such controversy and disagreement about future climate change amongst scientists? You will cover the following topics:

  • The Property of water and how it affects climate
  • The Effect of the Oceans on Winds
  • The Effect of the Currents on Climate
  • The Possible Effects of Global Warming
  • Control of Global Climate Change
  • Methods of Reducing Greenhouse Gas Levels
  • Strategies to Cope with Climate Change


Module 8 - Palaeoceanography


Palaeoceanography is the study of the geological history of the oceans. It gives us clues about the world’s climate in the past, and can help explain theories such as “why the Dinosaurs died out?” Students learn how rocks, fossils, oil and gas are formed. This unit examines how we can use the oceans to find out about the history of the Earth. The following topics are considered:

  • Why study Palaeoceanography
  • Sediment formation
  • Extraction of Sediments
  • Sedimentary Rocks
  • Oil and gas formation
  • Geological timescales
  • Plate Tectonics
  • How the Earth has changed
  • How life evolved
  • Classification of species


Module 9 - Biological Oceanography


The oceans can tell us a lot about the history of the earth. The organisms within the oceans are dependent on the marine environment being hospitable for life. A study of the history of these marine organisms and their fossils can help us understand their development over time. Humans also depend on, effect and are affected by the marine environment, e.g. we fish the oceans for food, we pollute it with oil spills and this impacts upon the ecosystem. There may be many species yet undiscovered. This module will cover the following topics:

  • Chemical cycles with in the ocean
  • Geothermal vents
  • Undiscovered species
  • Humans dependence on the oceans
  • Oil and Gas Extraction


Module 10 - Careers in Oceanography


So why do people study Oceanography? You may already know why you have chosen this subject. Oceanographers are employed in a wide range of different activities, and use their knowledge of biology, chemistry, physics and geology to study the seas and oceans. Careers can involve conducting research, exploring the effects of pollution or marine engineering, investigating climate change, monitoring the oceans for evidence of impact of human activity. This final unit will help you develop your skills in Oceanography and begin to plan a career using these new scientific skills. This unit covers the following topics:

  • Development of Marine Careers
  • The Ocean as an energy source
  • Commerce
  • Telecommunication Cables
  • Ocean Mining
  • Career in Oceanography
  • The Different branches of Oceanography
  • Maritime law
  • Employment in related fields
  • Routes into Studying Oceanography
  • Assessing your skills and abilities
  • Career planning and opportunities
  • Employment opportunities

Entry Requirements

All students must be 16 years of age and above.

Level 3 Diploma courses require a minimum prior learning to GCSE standard in order that students can manage their studies and the assumed knowledge within course content.

Study Hours

Approximately 20 hours per unit

Assessment Method

Final online multiple choice examination.

Please note that you can enrol on this course at anytime.


Diploma in Oceanography

This course is Quality Assured by the Quality Licence Scheme
Quality Assured by QLS

At the end of this course successful learners will receive a Certificate of Achievement from ABC Awards and a Learner Unit Summary (which lists the details of all the units the learner has completed as part of the course). Please note that this ABC certificate is only available to students enrolling on or after 01.04.15.

The course has been endorsed under the ABC Awards Quality Licence Scheme. This means that Oxford Learning College has undergone an external quality check to ensure that the organisation and the courses it offers, meet certain quality criteria. The completion of this course alone does not lead to an Ofqual regulated qualification but may be used as evidence of knowledge and skills towards regulated qualifications in the future.

The unit summary can be used as evidence towards Recognition of Prior Learning if you wish to progress your studies in this sector. To this end the learning outcomes of the course have been benchmarked at Level 3 against level descriptors published by Ofqual, to indicate the depth of study and level of demand/complexity involved in successful completion by the learner.

The course itself has been designed by Oxford Learning College to meet specific learners' and/or employers' requirements which cannot be satisfied through current regulated qualifications. ABC Awards endorsement involves robust and rigorous quality audits by external auditors to ensure quality is continually met. A review of courses is carried out as part of the endorsement process.

ABC Awards is a leading national Awarding Organisation, regulated by Ofqual, and the Welsh Government. It has a long-established reputation for developing and awarding high quality vocational qualifications across a wide range of industries. As a registered charity, ABC Awards combines 180 years of expertise but also implements a responsive, flexible and innovative approach to the needs of our customers. Renowned for excellent customer service, and quality standards, ABC Awards also offers Ofqual regulated qualifications for all ages and abilities post-14; all are developed with the support of relevant stakeholders to ensure that they meet the needs and standards of employers across the UK.

How can I progress

For more information on how to progress after completing this course, please click here

Additional Information

You will receive a certificate from the College. A digital version is included in the price and will be emailed to you within 5 days of taking your online exam.

Should you require an embossed hard copy of your certificate to be sent to you by Special Delivery post, you can order this separately after taking your exam.

The course can be enrolled upon by students Internationally. There are no deadlines for enrolments.

To view the differences between our qualifications, please click HERE

What's Included

Online study materials to enable the student to successfully complete the Diploma. Support is provided by the tutor department for the duration of the course (1 year). Certification upon completion. All examination fees.

Course Fee


Payment by Instalments

Students are able to pay course fees in monthly instalments. Click here to download our instalment plan.

Further Information

The Quality Assured Diploma is a Level 3 equivalent on the National Qualifications Framework. The Diploma is a 1 year course which is self study and is examined by online examination. The Diploma is awarded by Oxford College. Upon completion of the course you will receive certification awarded by Oxford College.

The Level 3 Diplomas require a minimum prior learning to GCSE standard in order to for students to manage study and the assumed knowledge within course content.

They provide an ability to gain and apply a range of knowledge, skills and understanding in a specific subject at a detailed level. Level 3 qualifications such as A levels, NVQ3, BTEC Diplomas etc. are appropriate if you plan to progress to university study.

Level 3 Diploma courses can assist you in career development, continued professional development, personal development, and provision of a basis for further study.

Progression from Level 3 is to specialist learning and detailed analysis of a higher level of information (for example university level study, Diploma Level 5 study).

Your course is delivered online via the Oxford Learning On Campus website.

This is a flexible learning course, so the more time you have to commit to your studies, the sooner you are able to complete.

In the student 'On Campus' you are also able to take part in the student chat room and forums as part of our online student community.

After enrolling online you will receive your username and password to access the On Campus area within 3 working days.

Materials and support provided by Oxford Learning. Oxford Learning

A Paper copy and Kindle copy of course materials are also available to purchase in the online enrolment process.

For more information please visit our FAQ page.

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This product was added to our catalog on Monday 03 October, 2011.

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