Courses & Units

Marine Biogeochemistry QMS512

Start and finish dates may change subject to staff availability, refer to the QMS website for further details.

QMS units are designed for postgraduate students with a strong background in quantitative analysis, mathematics, physics and chemistry.


Biogeochemistry describes the cycling of carbon, nitrogen, sulfur and much more through the Earth system. Marine biogeochemistry is a relatively young science which over the past 50 years has grown from the application of chemical analyses of environmental samples to problems of material transports and transformation, to now encompass the influence of these chemical processes on the biosphere and conversely the influence of biological processes on chemical distributions. The overall field is very broad, ranging from questions such as the origin and possible extraction of important resources from seawater (e.g. rare earth elements, gold or uranium) to the impact of new substrates such as plastics on water quality. In this brief introductory unit, we focus on just one small subset of the field – the interactions of ocean productivity and biogeochemical processes with climate processes at the global scale, with a particular focus on oceanic control of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide and the incorporation of these processes in the next generation of Earth system models.


Unit name Marine Biogeochemistry
Unit code QMS512
Credit points 12.5
College/School College of Sciences and Engineering
Institute for Marine & Antarctic Studies
Discipline Oceans and Cryosphere
Coordinator Mr Tyler Rohr
Delivered By University of Tasmania
Level Postgraduate


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Unit census dates currently displaying for 2024 are indicative and subject to change. Finalised census dates for 2024 will be available from the 1st October 2023. Note census date cutoff is 11.59pm AEST (AEDT during October to March).

About Census Dates

Learning Outcomes

  • Describe the distribution of carbon and nutrients in the ocean and the processes that generate these distributions
  • Describe the interactions between physics, chemistry and biology that determine biological productivity in the oceans.
  • Obtain and manipulate ocean biogeochemical data to improve an understanding of biogeochemical processes.
  • Describe how isotopes are measured and used to quantify biogeochemical cycles and processes.
  • Explain the process of constructing a biogeochemical ocean model to inform its operation and limitation.

Fee Information

The 2024 Commonwealth Supported Place (CSP) rates are still being finalised by the Government and we will update the domestic fee information as soon as we have more details.


Mutual Exclusions

You cannot enrol in this unit as well as the following:



Teaching Pattern

This is an intensive unit taught over 5 days. There are lectures for 3 hours in the morning and then computer based practicals in the afternoons. Students are required to attend all lectures and laboratory sessions. A student who fails to attend at least 80% of the lectures and laboratory sessions will, unless there are extenuating (e.g., medical) circumstances, be ineligible to pass the unit

AssessmentReflective Journal (15%)|Questions from practicals (35%)|Project (50%)
TimetableView the lecture timetable | View the full unit timetable


  1. Ocean Biogeochemical Dynamics, Jorge L. Sarmiento and Nicholas Gruber, 2006, Princeton University Press.
  2. Chemical Oceanography and the Marine Carbon Cycle, Steven R. Emerson and J. L. Hedges, 2008, Cambridge University Press.

  1.  Biological Oceanography, C. L Miller, P.A. Wheeler, Wiley-Blackwell, 2nd edition, 2012. Available as eBook
  2. The textbook below provides useful mathematical background/review:

Mathematical Methods for Oceanographers: An Introduction, E. Laws, 1997


  1. You might also find this useful:


Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis. The fifth assessment report of the IPCC. The whole document is relevant, but particularly Chapter 6, Carbon and Other Biogeochemical Cycles. Available here

LinksBooktopia textbook finder

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