Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Academic Year
Semester 1
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Lecture 24 x 1 hour lectures
Practical 2 x 3 hour practicals


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Continuous Assessment: Lab/field work and/or coursework.  40%
Semester Exam 2 Hours   Written examination  60%
Supplementary Assessment 2 Hours   Students must take elements of assessment equivalent to those that led to failure of the module.  100%
Supplementary Assessment 2 Hours   Supplementary Assessment  100%

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

1. Appreciate the diversity of macro and microphyte phyla present in aquatic ecosystems.

2. Evaluate the physio-chemical characteristics in aquatic habitats, and describe the influence these characteristics have on the physiology, ecology, biology and primary production of macro and microphytes.

3. Conduct and report surveys in the aquatic habitat employing standard techniques used by botanists.

Brief description

The aim of this module is, through a series of integrated lectures and practicals, to introduce students to the diversity of macrophytes (multicellular algae and angiosperms) and microphytes (phytoplankton) inhabiting fresh, marine and brackish water habitats. The module will cover a variety of different topics, however, emphasis will be on taxomony of multicellular and unicellular algae, angiosperms, mangroves, seagrasses, saltmarsh, physiological adaptations, primary production, macrophyte-herbivore interactions, invasive species and anthropogenic impacts.


The module will begin by introducing the two main types of aquatic photosynthetic organisms: macrophytes (multicellular algae and angiosperms) and microphytes (phytoplankton) found across the aquatic habitats. Photosynthesis will also be revisited.

Freshwater macrophytes will be introduced by firstly discussing the different types of freshwater aquatic habitats; this will include standing water (wetlands, ponds, lakes etc), flowing water (streams, rivers etc) and brackish water (estuaries, lagoons etc). Each habitat will then be investigated separately by examining the physio-chemical characteristics and substratum type found in each, and the implications on plants/algae. This discussion will be coupled with primary production, physiology, reproduction, tolerance to anoxia, nutrient cycling, food webs etc. The importance of fresh and brackish water macrophytes will be discussed in the context of the fauna that depend on these habitats. The freshwater lectures will conclude with a discussion of anthropogenic impacts. Topics to be discussed will include climate change, eutrophication, invasive species, pollutants etc.

The marine environment will be introduced with a discussion on phytoplankton and their importance in marine food webs. The lecture content will then progress onto macrophytes. The main phyla will be investigated in detail: Rhodophyta, Chlorophyta, Heterokontophyta (including: Phaeophyceae), covering zonation, physiology and adaptation, reproduction, biogeography, chemical ecology, primary productivity, nutrient cycling etc. The marine lectures will conclude with a discussion on angiosperms. Only two types of angiosperms are found in the marine environment: mangroves and seagrasses. Both form extremely important biological marine communities. Their adaptations to waterlogged sediment, salinity tolerance, primary production, reproduction and physiology will be examined in detail. The importance of marine macrophytes will be discussed in the context of the fauna that depend on these habitats for shelter and food. Finally anthropogenic impacts on these habitats, together with the use of macroalgae and microalgae as biofuels will be discussed.

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number Collection of data in terms of quality and quantity. The students will be expected to scrutinise their techniques and interpret their results.
Communication Listening and oral skills during the lectures and subsequent discussions will be encouraged. The students will be expected to produce coherent written documentation for their examinations and field trip/practical reports.
Improving own Learning and Performance Outside the formal contact hours, students will be expected to research materials, manage time and meet deadlines. The practical classes/field trip will provide an opportunity for students to explore their own learning styles and preferences, and identify their needs and barriers to learning. Students will be able to review and monitor their progress and plan for improvement of personal performance through self-awareness and reflection.
Information Technology The students will be required to access online databases such as ISI Web of Knowledge and Google Scholar to find primary literature. They will also be expected to be competent in the use of word processing programs and spreadsheets for delivery of assessed work.
Personal Development and Career planning Students will gain confidence and self-awareness of their personal skills and of their ability to evaluate biological problems and objectively assess the quality of proposed solutions. Feedback will be given where appropriate.
Problem solving Students will be encouraged to critically analyse information provided during the lectures and orally identify appropriate solutions where problems arise. Feedback will be given where appropriate.
Research skills Students will research topics beyond the depth and scope of the lecture material during their independent study using a variety of literature sources. They will be expected to produce academically appropriate reports, and where necessary comment, evaluate and scrutinize the information obtained/experiment conducted. Practicals will enable students to develop standard identification/surveying skills at an early stage of their academic careers.
Subject Specific Skills Subject specific concepts/techniques relating to aquatic macro/microphytes will be developed.
Team work Students will work effectively in pairs/small groups during field trips/practical classes. They will be expected to contribute to the planning and organization of the practical exercises, delegation of tasks through persuasion and negotiation, and the execution of techniques relevant to the practicals/fieldtrips with the cooperation of group members.


This module is at CQFW Level 5