Oceanography Syllabus


Click here for Professor and Student Assistant office hours

Click here for the in-depth on-line class schedule (includes the reading)

Click here for a pdf of the one page information sheet I hand out on the first day of class.

Course Description: Geology 130

A survey of geological, physical, chemical and biological oceanography including the sea floor; waves, tides, currents; the physical and chemical properties of seawater and their distribution in the sea; planktonic life and its relation to nutrients. 3 units. Satisfies GE Area B5.

General Area B5 Learning Outcomes

Cite critical observations, underlying assumptions and limitations to explain and apply important ideas and models in one or more of the following: physical science, life science, mathematics, or computer science.

Recognize evidence-based conclusions and form reasoned opinions about science-related matters of personal, public and ethical concern.

Discuss historical or philosophical perspectives pertaining to the practice of science or mathematics.

Specific Learning Outcomes of this class

Manage data to reach scientific conclusions about the oceans

Discuss some historical highlights of the development of marine science

Describe ocean basins and sea floor features, and the geologic processes that form them

Appreciate the unique chemical and physical properties of water

Recognize the relationship between Earth's oceans and its climate

Understand how water circulates through the oceans (including surface and deep water currents)

Discuss the causes and characteristics of waves and tides

Explain how ocean processes affect our shorelines

Understand the impact of human activity on the oceans

Appreciate the great variety of marine life

Getting Help

I am on campus Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday this semester with official office hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:15 to 10:15. if you need help, but cannot meet during my official office hours, then e-mail me to set an appointment for a different time to meet (click here for my fall schedule so that you know when I might be available). Here is my information:

e-mail: bjmunn@csus.edu
office hours: Tuesdays and Thursdays 9:15-10:15, or e-mail for appointment
office: Placer Hall 1018

Alternatively, I have some Student Assistants who are available to help you, here are their office hours:

Dave Hart (also helps during class on selected Tuesdays)
email: dbhart06@gmail.com
Dave is a geology tutor for the Peer and Academic Resource Center, which is in Lassen Hall (second floor, 2200). Dave's hours at PARC are:     Tuesdays 1 - 3pm    and    Thursdays 11am - 2pm

Marianne Lehnert (also helps during class on selected Thursdays)
Mondays 10-11 in Placer Hall, room 1005.
email: mtl79@csus.edu

Matt O'Neal
Wednesdays 10-11 in Placer Hall, room 1005.
email: Mattdoneal@gmail.com

Finally, remember that your classmates also are good resources - be sure to make connections with others in the class when we do group work - those connections will come in handy when you do the exercises and study for exams.

Textbook Information

Required textbook: Oceans: An Illustrated Reference by Dorrick Stow (ISBN 9780226776644)

This is not a typical textbook - I am trying it out this year as an alternative to the more pricey textbooks I have used in the past. I expect everyone to get this book - my lectures and many of the class exercises and activities will reference information in the book (including figures). Directly from the publisher, it costs $55, however, you can buy it for as little as $4

Here are a few links where you can find used/new copies of the textbook (feel free to do your own search!)

If you are unused to reading science textbooks or have trouble studying effectively, here are some links to help you develop those skills:

Accessing your grades on SacCt (Blackboard)

I will be using SacCt so that you can keep tabs on your grades and also for announcements. You can log in to SacCT at https://sacct.csus.edu/. You will need your saclink account and password in order to log in. If you are new to SacCt, then you can get information about it at this link: http://www.csus.edu/sacct/.


Grading will be broken down as follows:

I use the traditional breakdowns for your letter grades:

A: ≥93                     B+: 87-90                    C+: 77-80                  D+: 67-70                    F: <60
A-: 90-93                B:   83-87                    C:   73-77                   D:   63-67
                                B-:  80-83                    C-:  70-73                   D-:  60-63     

Click here for a general description of final letter grades.

Exams » 60%

Basic Exam Information

There will be three in-class non-cumulative exams, each worth 20% of your grade. Tests 1 and 3 will consist of short answer questions with some multiple choice, true/false questions. Test 2 and the optional final will be run as pyramid exams. Pyramid exams will consist of only multiple choice and true/false questions; you must bring bring two scantrons (Form No. 882-E) to Test 2 and to the Optional Final. No electronic devices of any kind (mp4 players, cell phones, etc.) may be used during Test 1 and 3 or during the first part of any pyramid exam. If you miss a test you will receive a zero for that test, however, you may take the optional comprehensive final exam to replace this score.

The Optional Comprehensive Exam

If you missed a test or did not do as well as you would have liked on a test, then you will have an opportunity to improve your average exam grade by taking the comprehensive final exam. This final exam can be used to replace any single previous test grade, including one that you may have missed due to unforeseen circumstances. The optional final will be administered during the second hour of the final exam period and will be run as a pyramid exam (just like Test 2). If your score on the comprehensive final is lower than the test score you wish to replace, it will not be counted. Taking the optional final exam cannot hurt your course grade.

Exercises » 30%

Basic Information

You will be responsible for completing eight exercises over the course of the semester; some class time will be devoted to each exercise. The exercises are designed to (1) help you understand the lecture material with greater clarity and (2) give you some practical experience with analyzing data and making calculations in order to understand ocean processes. It is your responsibility to download the exercise, print it, and bring it to class on exercise days - each exercise should be posted several days before the exercise day.

Your exercises should be done in PENCIL so that you can easily erase should you change your mind as you complete the exercise. In addition, you must bring a CALCULATOR to class on exercise days (a ruler and colored pencils also may be useful). See the Class Schedule for the designated exercise days. Some lecturing will occur at the start of these days, however, at least 30 minutes will be allowed for in-class exercise work. This will give you the opportunity to discuss the exercise problems with your classmates and to get feedback from your instructor. The exercises will take longer than the class period to complete, however, you can get a good start on them in class where you have access to your peers and instructors to answer questions. As questions are asked or if problems arise about each exercise, I will update the Exercise Page with helpful tips about each exercise; be sure to check this page if you are stuck, or e-mail me.

You must turn in every exercise whether you attended class on exercise day or not. It is YOUR responsibility to make sure that you finish the exercises and turn them in on time. Due dates for the exercises are noted on the Class Schedule; I will grade them and hand them back by the next class period (for example, if due on a Friday, you will get them back the following Monday). Once graded and returned, exercises will not be accepted for full credit.


All exercises will be graded on a 100 point scale and will be equally weighted. I will make comments on your exercises and record your grade at the bottom of the last page. All 8 exercises will be averaged for your final exercise grade. Because the exercises are worth a big chunk of your final grade, it is well worth expending the energy to do a good job on these - they will help you understand the material and will improve your overall grade in this class (especially if you do not test well). You will hurt your grade by not doing the exercises, or by doing them poorly. If you find that you are struggling to complete them, then you should e-mail me at once or come see me as soon as possible so that I can help you stay on track in the class.

Late Exercises

I highly recommend that you do not turn in your exercises late - if you do, it will put you behind and it is a pain for me to grade late work. However, I do understand that other things in your life may take priority over your Oceanography assignments. Therefore, I allow a short grace period for you to hand in the exercises and still get full credit. The absolute latest that you can turn in an exercise for full credit is by the BEGINNING of class on the day that I hand back the corrected exercises. For example, if an exercise is due on Thursday, then I will turn back the corrected work on the following Tuesday - if you did not get the exercise done by the Thursday due date, then you can still turn it in to me by the BEGINNING of class on Tuesday. Remember, it MUST be turned in by the BEGINNING of class (or slipped under my office door, Placer Hall 1018, any time prior to class). Once I return corrected exercises to everyone else, the late designation begins for all exercises turned in after that. All exercises not turned in by that time (including by the end of that class period) will be marked as "LATE." Late deductions are as follows:

If you have extenuating circumstances that prevent you from meeting this course's deadlines, please explain your situation to me as soon as possible (preferably before the due dates). Delays in discussing your concerns may negatively impact your grade. It is YOUR responsibility to make sure that you finish the exercises and turn them in on time.

In-Class Work » 10%

Basic Information

In-class work consists of occasional simple assignments that help you to clarify your thinking on a topic and help me to keep track of what you do or do not understand about the lecture material. If you are absent when in-class work is done, then you will receive a zero for that work - you can only get credit if you are actually present in class to participate. In-class work will be graded on a √-, √, √+ scale, which translates into these numbers:

Potential Types of In-Class Work

Attendance on Exercise Days
Please do not skip class on exercise days, your classmates need you to be there so that you can help each other out. Attendance lists will be used at the end of exercise days to ascertain who is in class and participating, anyone who is not in class on these days will receive a zero for that day.

Think-Pair-Share Questions or Free-writing
I may pause during lectures to ask you to confer with your neighbors or write for a minute or so about some question related to the lecture material. I may randomly call on students by name to answer - you can receive credit for your answer only if you are in class to answer. If you are called and are not in class to answer the question, then you will receive a zero.

Group Activities
You will be asked to participate in a number of short group activities during class. If you have a problem with group work, you should come talk to me. The answers worked out by each group will be collected, reviewed, and returned the next class period.

Video Questions
When videos are shown in class, I may ask you to answer a few questions about the video either as you watch or immediately afterward. Your written answers will be collected, reviewed, and returned the next class period.

This is a technique used to assess your previous knowledge about a concept before a concept is introduced during lecture, you cannot "fail" these quizzes as long as you provide an honest answer. Your answers to these occasional pre-quiz concept questions will be collected, reviewed, and returned the next class period.

Reasonable Accommodation Policy

If you have a disability and require accommodations, you need to provide disability documentation to Services for Students with Disabilities (SSWD).  For more information please visit the Services to Students with Disabilities website. They are located in Lassen Hall 1008 and can be contacted by phone at (916) 278-6955 (Voice), (916) 278-7239 (TDD only) or via email at sswd@csus.edu.
Please discuss your accommodation needs with me after class or during my office hours early in the semester.

Classroom Etiquette

I expect respect to be shown both to me and to your peers in the classroom.  Please, avoid private conversations while I am talking up front and turn off electronic gadgets during class - this includes laptops, tablets, cell phones and other mobile devices.  Your conversations and electronic pastimes distract students around you who are trying to pay attention.  I will not tolerate private conversations during class time and I will ask you to leave if you persist in distracting those around you.  I do not mind if you arrive late to class as long as it is not a chronic problem and you enter the class discretely.  If you need to leave class early, please tell me before class starts (thank you).

Academic Honesty

I expect you to do your own work in this course and act with integrity in completing all assignments and in-class work. I encourage you to confer with other students during the in-class activities and while doing your exercises or studying for exams. HOWEVER, all of your written work MUST be your own - plagiarism (including copying from each other) is dishonest. Zeroes will be given to all parties who turn in identical answers on any work, who copy directly from each other, from the book, from my web site, or from any other source. See http://library.csus.edu/content2.asp?pageID=353 for more information about plagiarism. Academic dishonesty may result in a referral to the Office of Student Affairs for disciplinary action.

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