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OCEN201 Physical Oceanography

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An exploration of topical global and local oceanographic, chemical and geological issues important for understanding and managing the marine environment.

Want to understand the fundamental processes that govern the physical state of the world’s oceans? This is the paper for you. We focus on giving a solid foundation in the physical oceanic processes that shape our oceans: from the processes that drive large-scale ocean circulation, which takes years or centuries to traverse the globe and plays a critical role in our changing climate, to the dynamic near-shore processes within the estuarine, coastal and shelf environments, which are key to addressing many environmental and geophysical problems. We also examine complex oceanographic signals locked in seafloor sediments, which can provide records of oceanic currents and sea-level in the distant past and help to predict future climate change.

Paper title Physical Oceanography
Paper code OCEN201
Subject Oceanography
EFTS 0.15
Points 18 points
Teaching period Semester 1 (On campus)
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $1,092.15
International Tuition Fees (NZD) $5,004.75

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MARI 112 and one of (COMO 101, MATH 160, MATH 170, PHSI 131, PHSI 132 and PHSI 191)
MARI 201
Schedule C

Dr Robert Smith (

Teaching staff

Course Co-ordinator: Dr Robert Smith



  • Ocean Circulation, Second Edition by the Open University, 2001.
  • Descriptive Physical Oceanography: An Introduction, Sixth Edition by Talley et al., 2011.


  • Oceanography: An Invitation to Marine Science, Eighth Edition, 2013.
Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Global perspective, Interdisciplinary perspective, Lifelong learning, Scholarship, Communication, Critical thinking, Information literacy, Research, Self-motivation.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes
Students will improve their skills in data collection, data management, data analysis and modelling, presentation of results, written communication, critical thinking and problem solving and apply these skills to oceanography.

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Semester 1

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system


Stream Days Times Weeks
A1 Monday 09:00-09:50 9-13, 15-16, 18-22
Friday 10:00-10:50 9-12, 15-22


Stream Days Times Weeks
A1 Tuesday 14:00-15:50 22
Tuesday 14:00-17:50 9-13, 15-21