AEW-22806 Marine Systems


Credits 6.00

Teaching methodContact hours
Field practical26
Group work4
Course coordinator(s)dr. IA van de Leemput
Lecturer(s)dr. R Osinga
dr. IA van de Leemput
dr. MJA Christianen
prof. dr. M Scheffer
prof. dr. SR Bush
prof. dr. HJ Lindeboom
prof. dr. ir. PJH Reijnders
prof. dr. ir. JPM van Tatenhove
dr. ir. ing. NJ Diepens
Examiner(s)dr. IA van de Leemput

Language of instruction:


Assumed knowledge on:

ENP-52806 Ocean and Coastal Governance; AFI-20306 Aquaculture and Fisheries; AEW-51806 Introduction Marine and Estuarine Ecology.

Continuation courses:

AFI-32806 Marine Resources Management, ENP-35806 Marine Environmental Quality and Governance.


Note: This course has a maximum number of participants. The deadline for registration is one week earlier than usual.
This course focuses on unraveling the key mechanisms that determine sustainability of the human use of marine ecosystems. Traditionally natural sciences have seen humans as an external driver of nature, whereas social sciences have considered nature as a resource for humans. However, such separate views are no longer sufficient if we want to understand what drives the complex interplay of humans and their environment. There are no natural systems without people, nor social systems without nature. Social and ecological systems are truly interdependent and constantly co-evolving, and dynamics are often complex. In the course we analyze both the ecological and the social complexity of systems ranging from coral reefs to the Wadden Sea, addressing the question what are the key factors challenging resilience of the marine social-ecological system, and asking what would be needed to ensure its sustainability.
The lectures deal with key concepts and the principles of (marine) ecology and the governance of marine systems. The course also includes training of academic and communication skills. A core element of the course is a case study, performed by small groups of four to five students dealing with prominent issues in the management of marine systems all over the world. Students will also experience a few days on the island of Texel (12-16 September 20156) including a boat trip on the Wadden Sea with limited capacity. As this course serves as an entrance course for the MSc Aquaculture and Marine Resource Management, students of this programme are given priority; the same is true for students for the specialization Marine Biology in the MSc Biology.

Learning outcomes:

After successful completion of this course students are expected to be able to:
- analyze complex marine social-ecological systems from a systemic perspective, based on an in-depth understanding of ecosystem dynamics, and social/political dynamics;
- point to key factors that impact the resilience of a particular social-ecological system;
- assess how a particular social-ecological system could potentially be steered into a desired direction;
- evaluate state-of-the-art concepts regarding complex social-ecological systems, such as complex adaptive systems, regime shifts, and safe operating space, in the context of a particular marine system;
- integrate and apply obtained knowledge by an in-depth analysis of a particular social-ecological marine system;
- apply sampling techniques commonly used in sea research.


- attending lectures - reading and studying background material - attending tutorials - active participation in a group assignment and field work - report writing and presentation.


- case study reports and presentations (group) (40%);
- written exam (closed book) (60%);
Results of partial interim examinations (deelcijfers) are valid for the period of three years.


A reader will be available.

Compulsory for: MAMAquaculture and Marine Resource ManagementMSc1AF
Restricted Optional for: MBIBiologyMScG: Marine Biology1AF
Compulsory for: WUSEABSc Minor Seagriculture1AF