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BTNY203: Marine and Freshwater Botany

Teaching Staff

Associate Professor Linn Hoffmann, Associate Professor Tina Summerfield and Associate Professor Chris Hepburn

Course Description

Discover the habitat of marine and freshwater phototrophic organisms and how they are adapted to thrive in this environment. This paper will examine the diversity, physiology, and ecology of marine and freshwater plants, algae, and cyanobacteria. How does living in water influences photosynthesis and nutrient uptake? You will learn about special adaptation mechanisms and about the crucial role these organisms play in global oxygen production, nutrient and carbon cycles as well as for the marine food web.

Learn about current research on climate change and how it will affect aquatic ecosystems in the future including ocean acidification and ocean warming. From microscopic algae and cyanobacteria to macroalgae, from morphological characterisation to DNA extraction, the labs will cover a wide range of organisms and techniques. We will investigate the impact of environmental stressors on the physiology and performance of algae and assess the toxin producing potential of different cyanobacterial strains.

Students who learn successfully in this paper will:

  • Be familiar with the diversity and evolution of marine and freshwater photosynthetic organisms
  • Understand the importance of marine and freshwater primary producers in carbon sequestration and nutrient cycling
  • Understand the role of these organisms in marine and freshwater ecosystems including the impact of toxic bloom formation, invasive species, and global climate change
  • Become familiar with relevant methods, experimental design and analysis
  • Extend skills in written and oral communication


Section I (8 lectures) - Aquatic photosynthesis: Diversity and evolution
Section II (8 lectures) - Marine botany: Coastal ecosystems
Section III (8 lectures) - Freshwater botany
Revision Lectures (2 lectures)


The practical component of BTNY203 consists of three modules, phytoplankton, macroalgae and freshwater. In each module laboratory experiments will be conducted to make you familiar with the organisms and to improve your laboratory skills, experimental planning, data collection and critical thinking.


Project Course Percentage
Lab 1 Phytoplankton Diversity Report 5%
Phytoplankton Project 15%
Macroalgae Project 10%
Freshwater Lab Project 20%
Final Exam 50%

Course Downloads

Download a copy of the course information sheet as a PDF.

Additional Course Information

More BTNY203 course and timetable information is available on the Courses and Subjects website.