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MB5350 - Evidence and Controversy in Marine Science

Credit points: 3
Year: 2023
Student Contribution Band: Band 2
Administered by: College of Science and Engineering

This subject will explore some of the most pressing, relevant, and - in many cases - controversial topics in marine science and conservation today. Emphasis will be on controversial issues, proposed and implemented solutions, and the scientific evidence - or, in some cases, lack thereof - underpinning each. Examples will come from issues related to climate change and other anthropogenic stressors, food security, human safety, tourism, education, science communication, and health, each of which will be integrated into weekly discussions. Students will not only develop an understanding as to why these issues are relevant in marine science today, but also the evolving scientific evidence to support or refute the ideas. Through the two-hour tutorial each week, students will develop an in-depth knowledge of these controversial topics and the science underpinning them. Students will learn to review and critically evaluate these ideas and will be encouraged to delve into the scientific evidence to offer support for or to refute these ideas. During the discussions, students will develop their communication and critical thinking skills, especially those necessary to evaluate controversial issues in marine science and to engage in a healthy and productive debate about a topic. Students will learn how to weigh different aspects of controversial topics and lines of evidence (or lack thereof) and how to constructively ask the types of questions needed to form sound logic and arguments. In addition to the weekly discussions, students will also develop opposing sides to debate a particular topic with their peers, build an individual multi-media presentation about another topic, and provide a constructive critique of a weekly JCU seminar of their choosing. Students will be mentored throughout the process of all three of these tasks as well as supported and encouraged during all discussions.

Learning Outcomes

  • deep and broad knowledge of controversial topics in contemporary marine science and marine conservation, and of the science that underpins these topics;
  • skills for reviewing, synthesising and critically evaluating marine science theories, concepts and knowledge;
  • ability to apply knowledge and skills to evaluate different aspects of controversial topics in marine science and to communicate the evidence (or lack thereof) that supports different perspectives in written and oral formats.

Subject Assessment

  • Oral > Presentation 1 - (40%) - Individual
  • Oral > Debate - (30%) - Group
  • Seminar diary and critique - (30%) - Individual.


Townsville, Study Period 1, Internal
Census Date 23-Mar-2023
Coord/Lect: Professor Jodie Rummer.
Workload expectations:

The student workload for this 3 credit point subject is approximately 130 hours.

  • 11 hours tutorials
  • 2 hours seminars
  • assessment and self-directed study

Note: Minor variations might occur due to the continuous Subject quality improvement process, and in case of minor variation(s) in assessment details, the Subject Outline represents the latest official information.