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Award in Applied Marine Physics – Introduction

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Award in Applied Marine Physics - Introduction


MQF Level
Twice Weekly
18:00 - 20:00
Mode of Delivery
Face to Face 20%; Online 80%


This is a primer course on the physics of the sea with a focus on the descriptive and scientific aspects of the marine physical environment, its relevance and linkages to other earth system components and to the marine ecosystem itself, as well as its practical relevance in marine engineering and maritime affairs. The course covers basic knowledge on physical oceanography with an applicative approach that empowers participants to build sound literacy in marine foundation topics relevant to other courses, serving them to prepare for higher level marine-related studies, and to provide them with knowledge and basic skills as they embark or wish to consolidate on their various professional careers. 

The main emphasis of the course will be on the principles governing the motion of the oceans including tides, sea currents and waves, sea-water column properties and characteristics, water masses, air-sea interaction and ocean heat balances, the role of the ocean in climate, and insights on marine observations and forecasting. The course will focus on the Mediterranean Sea with special emphasis on the phenomenology of the sea around the Maltese Islands with seasonal variability and cycles, and relate to the importance of the marine physical environment for an integrated approach to the study of the sea. More specifically the course will deal with:

– introducing basics about ocean systems

– ocean dimensions, bathymetry and seabed configuration

– temporal and spatial scales in the ocean and atmosphere

– earth’s climate

– interpretation and use of navigational charts

 – methods in ocean observations

– principles of operational oceanography

– satellite oceanography

– marine meteorology

– physical properties of sea water

– temperature, salinity and density

– heat balance of the oceans

– sea waves 

– role of the oceans in climate change

– understanding and predicting tides

– basics of ocean circulation – thermohaline circulation of the Mediterranean Sea

– wind induced circulation

– Interpretation of basic marine data for safer navigation

– applied oceanography for mariners and engineers


Career Paths

The course appeals to students aspiring to different careers such as in sea faring, shipping and coastal construction and engineering, amongst others. It also targets participants who are already engaged in their professional endeavours and wish to consolidate their knowledge about the sea.


Structure and Assessment

The course is expected to be mainly delivered by face-to-face lessons if COVID related measures permit. The option of an online delivery will be considered if the need arises.

Duration – 25 hours


Lecturing Schedule

Part-Time Evenings

One Session a Week on Fridays

Each Session starts at 6pm and typically ends at 8pm depending on the lecturing schedule.

Note: Additional hours as directed by the Lecturer need to be dedicated by way of Self-Study / Research / Assignments / Projects / Presentations / Group-Work or similar.


These may be either Home-Based Assignments or Time-Constrained Assessments, on both an Individual Basis, as well as on a Group-Level Basis according to the Units being assessed, and may also include evaluation of hands-on practice.


Learning Outcomes

  • Apply the basic concepts underlying the physical characteristics of the oceans and the main drivers of its circulation;
  • Analyse the available technologies and methods to observe the sea and to make linkages to the other components of the marine ecosystem;
  • Use marine data from satellite observations including the use of t marine numerical modelling and forecasting data;
  • Assess different time and spatial scales of ocean processes including a general idea on the functioning of the Mediterranean basin-scale circulation, and the role of the oceans in the earth’s climate.
  • Evaluate data and information sources on physical oceanography including basic literature referring to the marine physical environment;
  • Assess how relevant scientific knowledge and data about the sea for applications such as maritime contexts, safer navigation and coastal engineering, can be used in risk assessment and decision making.


Entry Requirements

No particular entry requirements are required to follow the course, but the students should have preferably followed mathematics and physics at O level. Basic mathematical and physical concepts will be revised and re-elaborated during the course.

Maturity Clause:

Applicants who do not meet all the minimum eligibility criteria, and who have attained the age of 21 years, may submit an application under the maturity clause. A Curriculum Vitae and a Motivation Letter (the latter clearly indicating what motivates the applicant to apply for this particular course) are required.


These applicants must demonstrate that they stand to benefit and show that they are able to follow the programme through an interview held for the purpose. Additionally, applicants under the maturity clause may be evaluated through an assessment.


The Admissions Department may suggest pre-eligibility courses any applicant would be required to follow before being considered eligible for this course.



Course participants may be awarded either an MCAST Certificate of Attendance or an MCAST Certificate of Achievement.

MCAST Certificate of Attendance

  • An MCAST Certificate of Attendance will be awarded to those candidates who attend at least 80% of the lessons.

MCAST Certificate of Achievement

  • An MCAST Certificate of Achievement will be awarded to those candidates who satisfy the 80% attendance criteria AND ALSO choose submit course assignments / or sit for assessments and achieves a Pass mark or higher.
  • Students who opt not to submit assignments or sit for the assessments or fail to achieve a Pass mark will however be awarded an MCAST Certificate of Attendance provided that they fulfil the minimum attendance criteria as stated above.


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