KE5003 - Meteorology and Oceanography

What will I learn on this module?

IIn this module you will develop a broad grounding in the sciences of meteorology and oceanography from a physical geography perspective. In particular you will develop knowledge and understanding of:
• The operation of local and global scale meteorological and oceanographic processes, their simulation using numerical models and their measurement through in situ and satellite observations.
• How atmospheric processes and surface conditions give rise to weather, including meteorological extremes and hazards
• Ecosystems of the oceans and palaeoceanograpic proxies
• The role of the oceanic circulation in climatic variability over a range of temporal and spatial scales.

You will develop field skills in meteorological measurement using sensors and data loggers, analysis and data presentation skills using specialist software and gain first-hand practical experience of real world environmental measurement and data visualisation techniques used widely in research and industry.

You will be assessed through: (i) a report on the practical exercises in meteorology in Semester 2 (up to 2000 words, 50% weighting); and (ii) an online test on the subject knowledge and practical exercises in oceanography, towards the end of semester 1 (2 hours, 50% weighting). You will receive formative feedback in practical classes and summative feedback on submitted coursework. This will provide positive criticism, identifying areas for improvement and highlighting good practice.

On completion of the module your enhanced ability to link theory and practice, confidence to approach research questions and use sophisticated tools in data analysis, and ability to communicate research results in a clear, concise and professional manner will serve to improve your future employability.

How will I learn on this module?

You will learn through direct teaching (lectures, IT and practical workshops and local fieldwork), guided independent study (workshops, fieldwork and project) and private study outside of timetabled classes, through your engagement with a range of learning resources. The lectures are associated with taught practical sessions. You will be introduced to the fundamental issues, concepts and principles in lectures, and you will develop your comprehension and apply career-related skills during structured practical sessions covering:
• Collection of meteorological observations using data loggers, research-grade sensors and hand-held instruments, developing an awareness of professional practice, measurement errors and their treatment.
• Manipulation, analysis and presentation of meteorological and oceanographic observations, using a high-level programming language (Matlab), Microsoft Office packages, e.g. Excel, and online software
• Modelling of surface energy budgets and simple oceanographic processes
• The interpretation of proxy data on past oceanographic conditions
• Application of a simple oceanographic box model to understand drivers of ocean convection and biogeochemical cycling, such as fluxes of nutrients.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

During lectures you will encouraged to engage through question and answer sessions to comment on, and interpret, visual materials displayed by the lecturer. Lectures will often include short quizzes, based on previously delivered material, enabling you to gauge your progress and level of understanding regularly throughout the course. During practical IT classes you will receive formative feedback on your work from both lecturing staff and postgraduate demonstrators. In both IT practicals and local fieldwork exercises you will be encouraged to work in groups to encourage peer-support in problem solving and data collection and analysis.

Your class materials will be further supported by on-line resources available via the module eLP site. These resources include an interactive reading list with on-line access to a number of key articles and online sources.

What will I be expected to read on this module?

All modules at Northumbria include a range of reading materials that students are expected to engage with. The reading list for this module can be found at:
(Reading List service online guide for academic staff this containing contact details for the Reading List team –

Ahrens, C. D. (2007) Meteorology today: an introduction to weather, climate and the environment. Belmont, CA, Thomson Brooks/Cole, 537p.
Barry, R. G. and Chorley, R. J. (2010) Atmosphere, weather and climate. London, New York, Routledge, 516p.
Kattan, P. I. (2008) MATLAB for beginners: a gentle approach. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.
Neelin, J. D. (2011) Climate change and climate modelling. Cambridge, CUP, 282p.
Oke, T. R. (1990) Boundary layer climates. Routledge, 435p.
Pinet, P. R. (2009) Introduction to oceanography. Sudbury, Jones and Bartlett Publishers, 625p.
Wells, N. (2012) The atmosphere and ocean: a physical introduction. Oxford, Wiley-Blackwell, 411p.

What will I be expected to achieve?

Knowledge & Understanding:
• MLO1: Appraise the key concepts and principles of the sciences of meteorology and oceanography.
• MLO2: Assess and apply contemporary observation and simulation techniques in these fields.

Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:
• MLO3: Apply and evaluate skills in the use of a range of computational, field and analytical tools and their application to investigation of oceanic and atmospheric processes.
• MLO4: Develop and demonstrate a professional standard of written and verbal communication skills.

Personal Values Attributes (Global / Cultural awareness, Ethics, Curiosity) (PVA):
• MLO5: Work effectively as part of a group or team, displaying confidence and motivational skills in problem solving.

How will I be assessed?

• The summative assessment is made up of: (i) a report on the practical exercises in meteorology in Semester 2 (up to 2000 words, 50% weighting); and (ii) an online test on the subject knowledge and practical exercises in oceanography, towards the end of semester 1 (2 hours, 50% weighting).
• The report will enable you to demonstrate your understanding of the controls on variation in meteorological variables; your skills in meteorological measurement and in the organisation, analysis and visualisation of data (MLOs 1,2,3,4,5)
• The online test will enable you to: (i) demonstrate your ability to apply and interpret output from a simple ocean-atmosphere model, and interpret a proxy paleo-environmental record in terms of changing oceanographic and/or climatic parameters; and (iii) demonstrate your knowledge and understanding of key concepts and principles, and contemporary observation and simulation techniques in the sciences of both meteorology and oceanography. (MLOs: 1, 2, 3, 5)

• Quizzes in lectures and completed in your own time, will provide you with an opportunity to gauge your understanding and progress on the module (MLOs 1,2). You will receive formative feedback on work to be submitted for your report and examined in the online test during practical classes (MLOs 3, 4, 5). This will provide guidance on the expected style and standard of work, and engender confidence and engagement. Sample questions will be provided in advance of the online test (MLOs 1, 2, 3).


Introduction to the Physical Environment (KE4000); Exploring Geographical and Environmental Data (KE4005)



Module abstract

Meteorological and oceanic processes directly impact on human activities and exert a fundamental influence on other parts of the earth system and climatic variability. This module develops a broad knowledge and understanding of meteorological and oceanographic processes, their simulation using numerical models and their monitoring using direct and indirect measurement techniques. Key topics include: atmospheric processes and the development of weather systems; climate and climatic extremes at both global and local scales; the principles of weather modelling and forecasting; the drivers and consequences of changes in oceanographic circulation, the influence of oceanic biological communities on global climate and the interpretation of palaeontological and geochemical proxies to understand past oceanographic change. The module in underpinned by Technology Enhanced Learning and Research-Rich Learning through the use of research-grade sensors and data-loggers to collect observations, and student-led data processing and presentation using specialist software and computer models to enhance students’ future employability.

Course info

UCAS Code F840

Credits 20

Level of Study Undergraduate

Mode of Study 3 years Full Time or 4 years with a placement (sandwich)/study abroad

Department Geography and Environmental Sciences

Location City Campus, Northumbria University

City Newcastle

Start September 2024 or September 2025

Fee Information

Module Information

All information is accurate at the time of sharing. 

Full time Courses are primarily delivered via on-campus face to face learning but could include elements of online learning. Most courses run as planned and as promoted on our website and via our marketing materials, but if there are any substantial changes (as determined by the Competition and Markets Authority) to a course or there is the potential that course may be withdrawn, we will notify all affected applicants as soon as possible with advice and guidance regarding their options. It is also important to be aware that optional modules listed on course pages may be subject to change depending on uptake numbers each year.  

Contact time is subject to increase or decrease in line with possible restrictions imposed by the government or the University in the interest of maintaining the health and safety and wellbeing of students, staff, and visitors if this is deemed necessary in future.


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