AEW-22806 Marine Systems


Credits 6.00

Teaching methodContact hours
Field practical26
Group work4
Course coordinator(s)dr. MJA Christianen
dr. IA van de Leemput
Lecturer(s)dr. MJA Christianen
dr. R Osinga
dr. MJ Baptist
dr. IA van de Leemput
dr. HM Toonen
Examiner(s)dr. IA van de Leemput
dr. MJA Christianen

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, AEW-30306 Complexity in Ecological Systems


Note: This course has a maximum number of participants. The deadline for registration is one week earlier than usual. See Academic Year ( -> Registration for Courses.

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 this course we analyse both the ecological and the social complexity of systems ranging from coral reefs to the Wadden Sea, addressing questions such as what are the key factors challenging resilience of the marine social-ecological system, how is the system governed, and what would be needed to ensure its sustainability. 
During the course, students will collectively investigate marine cases dealing with prominent issues in the management of the social-ecological system. Students will play an active role in this course. Activities include tutorials, role-playing games, and carousel teaching. Students will also experience a few days on the island of Texel including a monitoring from a research vessel on the Wadden Sea with limited capacity. As this course serves as an entrance course for the MSc Aquaculture and Marine Resource Management (MAM), students of this programme are given priority; the same is true for students for the MSC Biology (MBI) with specialisation Marine Biology, and the BSc Minor Seagriculture (WUSEA).

Learning outcomes:

After successful completion of this course students are expected to be able to:

·      explain the key concepts related to marine ecology, governance, using exemplary marine ecosystems;
·      apply and interprete key tools: map a social-ecological system (SES), perform a resilience assessment, perform a stakeholder analysis, and make a policy arrangement approach;
·      discuss effects of environmental and social changes on SES dynamics and governance;
·      assess how a particular social-ecological marine system could potentially be steered into a desired direction;
·      present and report in-depth analysis of a particular social-ecological marine system;
·      apply sampling techniques commonly used in sea research;
·      analyze and discuss field data.


- attending lectures;
- reading and studying background material;
- attending tutorials;
- active participation in group assignments and field work;
- report and present.


- group work (25%);
- written examination (closed book) (75%);
Results of partial interim examinations (deelcijfers) are valid for three years.


Course guide and scientific articles.

Compulsory for: MAMAquaculture and Marine Resource ManagementMSc1AF
Restricted Optional for: MBIBiologyMScD: Ecology and Biodiversity1AF
Compulsory for: WUSEABSc Minor Seagriculture1AF