2019-2020 / OCEA0049-1

Pelagic oceanography


15h Th, 15h Pr, 2d FW

Number of credits

 Master in oceanography (120 ECTS)4 crédits 


Sylvie Gobert

Language(s) of instruction

French language

Organisation and examination

Teaching in the second semester


Schedule online

Units courses prerequisite and corequisite

Prerequisite or corequisite units are presented within each program

Learning unit contents

The pelagic environment encompasses the entire water column of the seas and of the oceans, it extends from the surface to the abyssal depths, iti s a 3 dimensional habitat, it is the most voluminous habitat on the Earth. The pelagic ecosystem is home to some of the most revered and reviled marine inhabitant: whales and jellyfish. Koowledge of biophysical patterns and processes in the pelagic environmnent, for managment of fisheries ecosystems, and will be key for predicting changes.   The course Pelagic Oceanography is a multidisciplinary approach of this ecosystem.
Outline contents:

  • Introduction
  • Definition and environmental features
  • Pelagic inhabitants: definition, size, adaptations
  • Pelagic ecosystem: description, patchiness, biomass, production, trophic web
  • Fisheries
  • The future for pelagic ecosystem
- A general view of the pelagic diversity and sampling and analysis methods are given thanks to simple taxonomic and analytic tools. The relations between key-species and habitat will be presented (visits of aquarium, museum, fieldtrip in Corsica) - The global functioning of some key oceanic ecosystems is developped on the base of function processes developped previously in the cursus of Biological Oceanography and Marine Ecology. - Elements of Fisheries Oceanography allows to determine the link between fish population, fisheries, plankton production and ocean circulation. - The impacts of environmental changes on pelagic ecosystem (and on fisheries) are developed.

Learning outcomes of the learning unit

To develop a practical knowledge of pelagic habitat and the understanding of the impact of the hydrology, the circulation, the climate and the Man on its functionning. Based on the knowledge acquired during the courses, from the observations made in the museum, in the aquarium and on based on scientific documents (bibliography, educational documents): develop a subject, learn to prepare a presentation and to present it orally.

Prerequisite knowledge and skills

To speak and understand french language
A good basic knowledge on processes in Biological Oceanology and Marine Ecology

Planned learning activities and teaching methods


  • Courses of 90 min, half dedicated to theoretical aspects, the other one dedicated to tutorial classes (study of documents, video).
  • A visit to the museum.
  • The equivalent of four half-days during the internship at STARESO (Calvi, Corsica) (training course) of ground (the methods of takings, study of the distribution(casting) of the bodies planctoniques (phyto, zoo) and nectoniques in connection with the physical and chemical structure of the bodies of water).        

Mode of delivery (face-to-face ; distance-learning)

Courses in face-to-face, in french
The attention of the student is regularly requested during tutorial classes, visits of museum.
Field trip at STARESO (Calvi-Corse)

Recommended or required readings

The ppt constitute the basis of the course, they contain the essential information and not all of the oral comments given during the course.

The ppt are accessible on myUlg or given at the end of each course. Some parts of ppts, videos, articles are in English but the whole course is given in French.

Assessment methods and criteria

The evaluation is based on 3 parts:

  • 1. A dissertation of 15 minutes on an aspect of the pelagic environment (20 % of the total score). The presentation is graded not only on its content but also on its quality , clarity, respect of the timing.
  • 2. An oral exam (after a preparation with ppts). (60 % of the total score) (2 questions).
  • 3. A practical exam (20 % of the total score).

Work placement(s)

Field trip During the field trip (at the marine station STARESO of the University of Liège- Calvi Corsica) the concepts to a practical study of the distribution of pelagic organisms in relation to the physiscal and chemical structure of the water masses are applied. These approaches are made from a boat (net, CTD, bottles Niskin), in snorkelling, in scuba diving followed by determinations under binocular, photographic documents taken by the student, by the spectrophotometry...

Organizational remarks

  • Respect class times. 
  • If you contact the secretary or the professor by e-mail,  do not expect the replies to be immediate. Please, be patient.
  • University-assigned student e-mail is the Official means of communication with all students.


Prof Sylvie Gobert Océanologie Institut de Chimie. B6c-2/49 Tél: 04 3663329 e-mail:sylvie.gobert@uliege.be
Secretariat M Lunetta: 04 366 50 62
http://labos.ulg.ac.be/oceanologie/ http://www.stareso.ulg.ac.be/ https://www.facebook.com/oceanbioulg/

  • Meeting with my secretary: Mrs Mariella Lunetta is in her office  (B6C, room 1/21 , Sart Tilman) the Tuesday from 8:30 -10:30 am and the Thursday from 13:30-15:00 pm.
  • Meeting with me: I will make time available during and directly after the classes for your questions. I rarely can be available for unscheduled meeting. To make appointment , call 04 366 50 62 (Mrs Lunetta) or send an email: M.Lunetta@ulg.ac.be. 
  • My malbox is in the room 2/48.
  • We ask for your co-operation with these regulations.