The Applied Oceans Sciences taught Masters Degree at UCT is a full-time 13-month programme commencing in mid-to-late January every year and comprising coursework (50%, 90 credits) and a short research project for the mini-dissertation (50%, 90 credits)

Course Code: AOS BIO5012W

Course Conveners:

A/Prof Marcello Vichi (Department of Oceanography)

Dr Louise Gammage (Department of Biological Sciences)

The Coursework Component (50%)

[90 credits]

This takes place during the first half of the year (January to July-August), and comprises modules with dedicated assessments summarised further down the page:

  • Foundational modules – all students must complete this component
  • Specialised modules – students will select one of two streams (Operational Oceanography or Applied Marine Biology)
  • Interdisciplinary modules – students may select some courses as electives to complement the specific stream they chose.


Please take note that the specialised and interdisciplinary modules stipulated below are subject to change each year. 

Coursework Details

  • Introduction to Applied Ocean Sciences (15 credits, 5 lecturers)
    • Social-Ecological Systems (Dr Louise Gammage)
    • Ocean Governance (Ms Keshnee Pillay)
    • Physical Oceanography (Dr Moagabo Ragoasha)
    • Commercial Oceanography (Mr Sidney Bliski) (field trip: details to be confirmed in 2025)
    • Ecological Oceanography (Dr Zanne Zeeman) (field trip: intertidal environment)
  • Scientific computing and data management (10 credits, Prof Marcello Vichi)
    • Introduction to python through the online tool DataCamp
    • STA5014Z Study design and Data Analysis for Scientists (Lecturer from Statistical Sciences to be confirmed)
      • Introduction to R
        • Linear Regression: this is a technique for modelling the relationship between a continuous response and several explanatory variables.
        • Design and Analysis of Experiments
        • Generalized Linear Models: this is an extension of the linear regression model in which we model a binary or count response.
    • Introduction to South African fishery (5 credits, to be confirmed)
    • Marine Conservation (10 credits, Assoc Prof Deena Pillay/Dr Natasha Karenyi)
    • Ecosystem approach to fisheries and decision analysis (10 credits, to be confirmed)
    • Aquaculture (5 credits, Emeritus Prof John Bolton) - 2025 offering will be confirmed early 2025
    • Marine Microbiology (5 credits, Dr Emma Rocke, Dr Maggie Reddy) - 2025 offering will be confirmed early 2025
    • Marine Law (5 credits, Dr Zanne Zeeman)
    • 1 elective from Interdisciplinary Modules
    • Operational oceanography (10 credits)
      • Introduction to marine services and products (Dr Johnny Johannessen)
      • Applied meteorology (to be confirmed)
    • Ocean instrumentation and monitoring (10 credits)
      • Introduction to open ocean instrumentation (Prof Isabelle Ansorge)
      • Autonomous devices (Dr Sandy Thomalla)
    • Marine biogeochemistry with laboratory (10 credits, Assoc Prof Sarah Fawcett/Dr Katye Altieri)
    • Earth Observations (10 credits, Dr Marie Smith))
    • 1 elective from Interdisciplinary modules
    • Multivariate Analysis (10 credits, to be confirmed)
    • Marine Law (5 credits, Dr Zanne Zeeman)
    • Introduction to SA fishery (5 credits, to be confirmed)
    • Ecosystem approach to fisheries and decision analysis (10 credits, to be confirmed)
    • Aquaculture (5 credits, to be confirmed)
    • Marine Microbiology (5 credits, to be confirmed)
    • Earth Observations – online version (10 credits, Dr Marie Smith)
    • Introduction to numerical ocean models – online version (additional pre-requisites; 10 credits, Prof Marcello Vichi)
    • Diving course (additional costs on students, no credits)

    Mini-dissertation component (50%)

    [90 credits]

    • The dissertation is by definition smaller in scope than the so-called research Master (180 credits)
    • Students are encouraged to liaise with lecturers during the year according to their interests and performances. Topics may cover any aspect of applied ocean science, from the coastal to the open ocean environment, including socio-economical aspects and impacts on human activities
    • The course code depends on the department where the dissertation is hosted (SEA, BIO, EGS, but others are possible)
    • This takes place after the coursework (submission in February). Many students tend to register for a further 6 months.
    Note: UCT graduations will only take place in March and September.  The graduation date will be determined based on the date of submission (as a guideline students who submit by February 2026 should graduate by September 2026; those who submit between March and August 2026 will likely graduate in March 2027 (due to UCT regulations).