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Fall Course Offerings

Fall 2019 Schedule

The fall semester is comprised of one 16 week term, and two 8 week terms. Standard full time status requires at least two courses per semester. The Halmos College of Natural Sciences and Oceanography program office reserves the right to cancel a course due to low registration. If canceled the students will have a choice of switching to a different course or receiving a full refund.

Course Schedule

Capstone, Thesis, Ph.D. Directed Study, Dissertation

M.S. students wishing to register for Capstone or Thesis Credits must have had their proposal accepted by the Oceanographic Campus Program Office. A student who has not had their proposal approved by the program office may have to register for a Directed Independent Study and must contact the Program Office ( for the Course Reference Number (CRN) associated with their major advisor.

Once a proposal has been approved by the Chair of the Department, MS students sequentially register for and complete credits in each succeeding semester until the capstone/thesis is complete and has been successfully defended.  If a student fails to register for any given term without written approval by the Chair of the Department, that student will be withdrawn from the program.

Ph.D. students register for directed study credits if their proposal has not been approved.

Capstone, Thesis, Ph.D. Directed Study, Dissertation Schedule

Course Descriptions

Learn more about each course below.

Core Courses:

MSMS 5010, BCOR 5570: Biostatistics

This graduate course will introduce the most commonly used statistical tests and procedures to analyze biological and ecological data. The main objective is to prepare the students to identify the most correct statistics to analyze biological data, perform the statistical analysis in R and correctly interpret the results. Lectures will consist of short theoretical presentations followed by a lab where students will do guided exercises in R. Students will be required to do readings prior to the class on the theoretical basis of the theme of the week, and perform unguided exercises (homework) to cement knowledge.

MSMS 5020: Marine Ecosystems

This class focuses on marine ecological processes and functions. It presents an overview of the basic concepts of marine ecology along with more detailed elements of the discipline including the diversity of marine ecosystems, trophic relationships, ecological roles, and nutrient cycling and biogeochemistry.

MSMS 5040: Marine Chemistry

This course is an introduction to marine chemistry. It describes the properties, composition, and origin of seawater; the importance, distribution, relationships, and biogeochemical cycling of the major inorganic nutrients, dissolved gases, trace metals, and organic compounds. Salinity, temperature and density distributions will be explained. Carbonate parameters (pH, Alkalinity, TCO2 and pCO2) and how these are influenced by uptake of anthropogenic carbon dioxide by the ocean will be a key topic. Material is presented through lectures and three laboratory sessions which cover the principles and application of selected analytical techniques.

MSMS 5050: Physical Oceanography

This course is intended to give students a view to how wind, radiation, gravity, friction, and the Earth's rotation determine the ocean's temperature and salinity patterns and currents. Some important process we will study include heat budget of the oceans, exchange of heat with the atmosphere and the role of the ocean in climate, surface mixed layer, waves in the ocean, geostrophy, Ekman transport, upwelling, Rossby waves, subtropical gyres, western and eastern boundary currents. Students will learn how to explain physical features of the ocean ranging from microscopic turbulence to global circulation.

MSMS 5060, BMME 8059: Scientific Communication

This professional development class is designed to broaden the graduate student’s career prospective and develop competencies in communication (written and oral), leadership/management abilities, and skills related to job acquisition. This class will benefit students at any stage of their graduate career or pursuing any degree type (capstone, thesis, and dissertation).  


MSMS 6005: Invertebrate Zoology

Invertebrate zoology including anatomy, physiology, phylogeny, and ecology of major marine animal phyla including major heterotrophic protists and non-vertebrate chordates. Prerequisites: Undergraduate Biology.

MSMS 6008: Biology of Sharks and Rays I

Although the study of sharks generally lags behind studies on bony fishes and many other animals, our understanding of the biology of sharks and rays has improved tremendously over the past several decades.  Despite much of the interest in sharks stemming from the fact that they occasionally bite humans, sharks are fascinating animals in many respects and they are highly specialized inhabitants of the sea.  Sharks and rays possess a variety of unique characteristics that are integral to their having existed for the past 400 million years. In this course we will explore the general biology of sharks and rays by examining topics that deal with their anatomy, physiology and biochemistry with the goal of understanding how exquisitely adapted these animals are to their environment and just how they have been able to persist for 400 million years. The course will consist of two lectures and readings each week over the twelve-week duration of the term and will follow the schedule below.   

MSMS 6011: Marine Avian Ecology

This course will cover the main biological and ecology aspects of avian species within the marine ecology, with a particular emphasis on coastal ecosystems. Particular emphasis is also placed on the policy and management aspects of water-associated bird species during the final third section of the course, including state and U.S. federal regulations. Students will be provided with several seminal, peer-reviewed articles and other supporting materials regarding the topic of the week and expected to read and comment to the class about their content.  In addition, students will be required to develop a field observation notebook of water-associated bird species in South Florida.

MSMS 6014: Marine Larval Ecology

 Most marine animals have a complex life cycle with a sessile or sedentary adult stage and a dispersive larval stage. This course will expose the students to the diversity of marine larval forms and increase their understanding of the environmental factors affecting larval survival, development, dispersal, settlement, recruitment and connectivity. We will study the implications of having a larval stage for the persistence and management of marine ecosystems, and how climate change and other human-induced disturbances on larvae may affect species persistence.

MSMS 6104: Communication Dynamics in Dispute Resolution: Human Factor

This course presents the human and emotional aspects of conflict, and includes such topics as the influence of anger, gender, culture, forgiveness, and linguistics as well as important conflict analysis/resolution models. It focuses on the body of work that studies essential factors and the dimensions of the intrapersonal and interpersonal dynamics that influence communication in dispute resolution, and enhance understanding, analyzing, and managing conflict. This course is pragmatic as well as theoretical, and presents communication and conflict resolution skills and models in a practice-based approach.

MSMS 6201, BMME 6000: GIS & Environmental Remote Sensing

This course assumes that you have an interest in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Remote Sensing. It is not intended to matter whether you consider yourself a chemist, physicist, biologist, geologist or geographer. The intention is to deliver practical experience in Geographic Information System (GIS) through analysis and visualization of spatial data gathered from tools to study the Earth, its processes, and its inhabitants. The course is designed to be accessible to anyone with a reasonable grounding in the Earth and Biological Sciences with basic computer skills and is tailored to give a general induction to a wide scope of relevant topics and spatial data. The syllabus introduces basic Earth observation principles and image classification is dealt with by providing a grounding in the basic theory underlying image processing. Analyses of commonly collected spatio-temporal biological data will be emphasized. Processing, visualization, and presentation of spatial data, generated from field studies and theoretical models, will be stressed for the purposes of analysis and publication in print and on the internet. This practical and real-world experience founded in RS and GIS theory can be brought forward to each student’s individual thesis topic.

MSMS 6209,  BCOR 5560: Biodiversity

Globally, biodiversity is being dramatically altered by human activities.  While many species remain undiscovered, and ecological roles of existing species poorly understood, the magnitude of the changes is difficult to evaluate.  This course will discuss multiple aspects of biodiversity including: the definition of biodiversity, threats to biodiversity, the role of biodiversity, and methods to study biodiversity, with an emphasis on marine conservation issues.  Management approaches such as marine protected areas, no take areas, and special management areas will be studied.

MSMS 6211, BCOR 5585: Genomics

The primary goal of this course is to introduce and describe the latest advances in molecular biology, genomics computational biotechnology, and their interrelationships through classroom and computer laboratory exercises.  Discussions will also place these topics in a marine and evolutionary context.  We will study the milestone discoveries, which led to the rise of genomics, characteristics of the wide spectrum of different genomes (prokaryotic, eukaryotic and organellar), innovative molecular techniques and computational tools used to study these genomes, and the impact of genomics on current biological issues and problems.

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