Geology Cafe

Oceanography 101

Syllabus for Spring, 2016 (MiraCosta College)

Course description: This course explores the major processes and features of the world's oceans, including plate tectonics, the origin and history of the ocean basins, atmospheric circulation, weather and climate, ocean circulation, and the dynamics of waves, ties, and coastlines. The course also reviews marine life (including plankton, nekton, benthos, and marine mammals), explores the oceans as a resource for people, and considers human impacts on marine environments.

Contact Hours/Week
OCEA101 - 1124 - T/R 10:20-11:35am

Phil Stoffer
Office Hours: before & after class, and by appointment
Office and mail stop location:
SEC Admin/Student Services Bldg M/S 17A
Students can also reach me with e-mail.

Home Page:
Course Text: (On-line textbook is on the website)
Course announcements, quizzes, assignments, and exams will be posted on BLACKBOARD.
There will be 4 assignments (1 each quarter of the class). Assignments involve recording field-trips observations (see below)
Up to 10% of the in-class portion of the course may be substituted for an online component at instructors discretion.


Field trips are an important component to learning oceanography. We have exceptional locations near the college campuses where coastal processes and geologic features are well exposed. I will be announcing field trips once approval has been granted by the Dean of Sciences.
Dates and times for field trips may be changed based on weather and tide conditions. Note that students are not "obligated" to attend field trips if walking on beach sand or hiking trails are a problem, or if transportation, timing, or other conflicts in student schedules are a problem. If approved, I will be offering additional field trips options for students that will be scheduled on weekend dates. Assignments will be linked to field trips, but for those who cannot attend, other assignment options will be made available.


3 Exams (50 points each) and one 50 point final 200 points
16 weekly “quizzes” (10 points each) 160 points
Four 10 point "assignments" 40 points
attendance/participation (instructor’s discretion) 40 points

Weekly quizzes and exams will be on posted on Blackboard and can be taken within a "time window" (typically a week) which will allow ample time for students to complete. Be aware of time windows! -- 10% of grade will be lost for turning in late exams, quizzes, and assignments.

A final course grade can be calculated from point values: A =90%+ // B = 80%+ // C = 65%+ // D = 50%+ // F = <50%

To calculate your grade take the number of points you have received and divide it by the total points possible at that point. Then compare your calculation to the percentages above. Anytime your average drops below 65% (C), I will want to meet with you to see if there is any way to help you in the class.

The material for the tests and assignments will come from the lecture, course notes and reading assignments. All information on quizzes, exams, and assignments are posted on the class website ( and on BLACKBOARD. You will not be able to do the assignments without access to the Internet. The campus library has computers available to student use for Internet access if student do not have access of their own. I expect you to take all exams at the scheduled times unless you have a valid conflict. You must inform me before the scheduled exam time (in person, by phone, or by e-mail) or you will forfeit the exam.

Regular class attendance and punctuality is essential to doing well in this course. Attendance is an essential for discussion, announcements, and activities. In addition to just showing up to class, you must be prepared in advance for each topic by doing the assigned reading. I like students to be engaged and active in the class discussions. Four assignments focus on field-trip activities and alternative assignment for those who cannot attend.

I give a 48 hour "grace" period, for all regular assignments (not exams or quizzes). Late assignments may not be accepted.

I will make every attempt to treat everyone equally in this class.
Do not expect "special treatment" because you have other commitments outside of class, such as rigorous school schedule, work, or sports. I reserve the right to take corrective action if any of the following become a problem.
Attendance involves participation: students missing more than 4 classes may be dropped from the class.
Excessive absences:
if you have a problem that affects your attendance, please let me know.
Tardiness: if you have a valid reason that affects your punctuality, please let me know.

Student behavior: disrupting the class, interfering with other student participation, or disrespecting others in any way will not be tolerated.
This includes texting, use of social media, or other inappropriate behavior during class and may result in disciplinary action which may include recommendation for dismissal.
I will not tolerate any intentional racist, sexist, or homophobic remarks in my classroom.
If I make you uncomfortable or offend you in anyway please come talk to me about it.
I am obligated to report any hostile and inappropriate behavior to campus authorities.

Students with disabilities, whether physical, learning, or psychological, who believe that they may need accommodations in this class, are encouraged to contact Disabled Students Programs & Services as soon as possible to ensure that such accommodations are implemented in a timely manner. Authorization from DSP&S is required before any accommodation can be made. Their phone number is 795-6658 and they are located in Building 3000-Student Services, adjacent to Parking lot 3C.

Explain the origin of Earth in the solar system, the origin and character of the world’s ocean basins, including their physical geography.
Explain the theory of plate tectonics and relate it to the occurrence of earthquake, volcanic eruptions, the nature of igneous rocks and how they occur into ocean crust.
Explain the chemical and physical properties of seawater.  
Explain the origin and processes associated with of ocean sediments.
Explain the character of the global and regional atmospheric and oceanic circulation systems, and their impact on weather, climate, both in the oceans and on land.
Explain the processes associated with shorelines, coastal environments, and coastal erosion.
Explain the nature of ocean primary production, food webs, and the character of marine animals associates with the open ocean, shoreline, and seabed environments.

THE COURSE CALENDAR SCHEDULE is posted both on BLACKBOARD and on ( I reserve the right to change the policies or schedule in this syllabus at anytime. In addition, the time required for final presentations depends on the number of students in class, therefore the schedule may need be adjusted near the end of the course.

Student Honesty Policy: Students are expected to exercise academic honesty and integrity. Violations such as cheating and plagiarism will result in disciplinary action which may include recommendation for dismissal.