This is a formative, intensive course intended to inform, train
and empower students on marine data sourcing,
exploration, elaboration, valorisation and added-value creation.
It delivers skills to participants in the professional, holistic
and augmented interpretation of data for and beyond research and
assessments, namely on how to transform data into knowledge and
added value products, envisaging the merging of diverse datasets
such as from earth observations and numerical models, and including
the use of newer techniques such as artificial intelligence which
integrates machine learning capabilities into data driven modelling
The course provides the background on the value of data and its
transformation into information and knowledge in the context of
the digital age which spearheads the evolution of marine services
to serve stakeholder demands and boost research and innovation
applications, such as within the ambit of Blue Growth and Mission
Ocean– the European Commission’s initiatives to further harness
the potential of Europe’s oceans, seas and coasts, for sustainable
development, jobs and value. The importance of data is interpreted
as the essential ingredient for the monitoring, management and
sustainable use of resources such as in the context of marine
spatial planning, informed decision-making, strategy planning
and in policy formulations. Sustainable development in a
knowledge-based society goes in parallel with the process of
extracting essence from data, together with value addition by
a wide range of downstream services that are fitting to the
user needs, especially in the local scale application scenarios.
The course tackles the full range of data types covering the
different data acquisition and generation platforms (e.g.
observations and models), and including the merging of data of
diverse nature (e.g. socio-economic and ecological) including
non-scientific and qualitative data (eg resource tracking and
mapping, demography, performance statistics, etc).
Data management, quality control, archival and publishing over
different production and dissemination platforms is a further
important component in the course. This introduces students to
international standards on data keeping, exchange and interoperability,
highlighting the INSPIRE and FAIR criteria, to the concept of open data,
and to the organisation of data to be shared widely through dedicated
national, regional and European frameworks and services.
The course adopts a practical and hands-on approach throughout
so that concepts and methods are delivered through examples and
real applications. In its ideal format it is delivered in a computer lab environment
(merging physical and virtual settings) offering the participants
an individualised learning experience through practice. Dedicated
sessions in the programme link to the CMEMS and EMODnet portals,
and to other specialised data platforms (such as for ARGO floats
and earth observations). Furthermore specialized tools for data
extraction and sub-setting, data visualisation, and data analysis
provide the essential skills needed to use and interpret data
appropriately and unambiguously.
Marine research requires hands-on skills to visualise, process
and analyse scientific data, especially oceanographic and marine
meteorological data, GIS-based marine and coastal data, 2D and 3D
fields from numerical models and satellites, and biological and
ecosystem data. These skills are basic ingredients especially
for the marine professionals of tomorrow. The course is intended
to provide the essential foundations for data literacy, enabling
students to achieve the necessary standards in their post-graduate
endeavours, and eventually in their professional career. The targeted
skills can be broadly applied to data in general, serving to empower
students with a broad insight on the marine environment, and with
training in the professional technical skills necessary for the most
efficient and broad sourcing and use of data.
The objectives of the course follow two main overarching aspects:
Students are introduced to the concepts underlying the
integrated, multi-disciplinary assessment and sustainable
management of the coastal and marine domains defining the
seaward extent of the coast and its biological and socio-economic
importance. They are introduced to overarching concepts of
sustainable development, the blue economy, and the need for
science to meet the needs of society. The approach caters for
the regional seas, European and International efforts in
aspects such as for (i) assessing and monitoring marine
ecosystem health, (ii) sustaining fisheries resources, and
many other aspects in applied oceanography. The intention
is to stress the link between science and management, and
on how policy undertakings and decision making can be
supported by science. The importance of data in a
knowledge-based society is presented from the perspective
of diverse applications (such as in artificial intelligence)
that render data an asset for innovation, smart products and
services, and economic benefits in the marine/maritime industry.
The course provides students with the necessary practical
skills that will allow them to visualize, process and analyse
scientific data using professional software packages. Students
are introduced to different types and formats of met-ocean data
and will be trained in hands-on sessions to use such data to
identify, understand, and quantify marine ecosystem processes
and forcings, identify their temporal and spatial evolutions,
and extract knowledge for assessments and management. The
students will be also engaged in learning how to draw
conclusions and prove theories on the basis of scientific
data. These practical skills constitute a basic element
of the course and will prove useful for the further studies
in which the students will engage at post-graduate level.
Students are introduced to various software packages that
are typically used for oceanographic and scientific data
processing and analysis. The course deals with the basic
usage of these software packages in dedicated practical sessions.
In summary the training objectives are to:
Acquire skills to source, use and manage data proficiently
Learn about best practices on data exchange and FAIR
principles including the organization, formats,
documentation, storage and security of data following
Learn about the legal principles of data sharing
Learn about reliable data sources through a practical
approach on the use of existing databases/services
(especially CMEMS and EMODnet) and on how they can be
accessed and used
Practise the efficient use of data in applied research
and data-based assessments such as through visual
analysis and professional data analysis toolboxes.
LEARNING OUTCOMES & SKILLS
Identify different types and formats of available scientific data;
Understand the basics of data processing and extraction of
knowledge from data;
Understand the basics of coastal resource management:
mainly ICZM utilising an ecosystem-based approach;
Use timely delivery of routine, reliable, quality-assured
marine data assists in meeting expected standards of
environmental monitoring, assessments and management
in support of sustainable development;
Understand how relevant data may be acquired to fit
the needs of users such as in fisheries resource
assessment and management, water quality monitoring
and the general state of health of the sea;
Give appropriate importance of data to prove theoretical
concepts and/or draw scientific conclusions.
Apply the scientific method in the design of studies
and assessments, in establishing feasible sampling
and surveying protocols, in the sound interpretation
of data, and in deriving meaningful conclusions;
Handle several data sources (models, in-situ instruments
and remote sensing); different types of data (time series,
gridded data, etc.); data formats (ascii vs binary formats);
Convert between different data types;
Gain practice in data processing and analysis through
the use of various software packages;
To source and use available scientific resources –
using climatologies, catalogues and databases;
Adopt data processing methodologies to prove scientific
theories and/or draw conclusions on the basis of a dataset;
Process and analyse scientific data using software typically
used in oceanographic (and other types of scientific) research;
Understand the data needs of environmental managers to perform
coastal zone management using an ecosystem-based approach.
Mainly Master and PhD students in the marine sciences, seeking
to consolidate their approach to applied oceanography within
the context of evolving demands and concepts, as well as to
build the solid base needed to apply data and the scientific
method in their research. In general, the course also appeals
to postgraduate students from other disciplines, (including
engineering, IT, geosciences, geography, environmental management),
whose studies rely on the use of data.
In its first run, the course is limited to a maximum of ten
students from each of the SEA-EU universities, for a total of
60. Students from universities outside the SEA-EU alliance
may be considered. The limit of 60 students does not apply
to the introductory phase of the course consisting of the
initial background lectures which will be open to a wider
audience. The course Board of Studies will select the participants
according to merit based on qualifications and a number of
set criteria taking into account the background of the applicants
and the nature of their postgraduate studies.
Students joining the course do not need any initial programming
skills, but are expected to have acquired the necessary backgrounds
from their first degree courses.
The course is organised as a SEA-EU introductory course and
principally offered to students registered in any of the six
SEA-EU universities, although enrolment from third party
universities is also permitted. A coordinator or contact point
from each SEA-EU partner university is engaged to plan and
execute the course programme. The Board of Studies (BoS) is
tasked to detail the course content, link to contributing
academics from the respective partner universities, coordinate,
prepare and run the course, as well as promote and consolidate
the course within the SEA-EU framework.
The Course Faculty is composed of the contributing academics
delivering lectures or practicals in the course programme.
It is not mandatory to have teachers from the six universities,
neither students from the six universities. The course is open
to all and will be offered every year.
The delivery of the course is expected to apply a blended approach
where students would be normally offered options with a mix of online and
physical delivery. The course is planned in three linked but
distinct components, for a total of 109 hours spread over a period
of three months, typically October/November/December each year. The core
of the course is an intensive one week physical meeting (25.5h)
with theoretical lectures and principally dedicated to practical
sessions. The intensive one-week component can be optionally
followed remotely so as to offer a wider participation of students.
This is preceded by an introductory phase (13.5h) consisting of online
lectures spread over two or three weeks. The final component of the
course (70h) is dedicated to the course project in which the course
students are given individual and group work to accomplish remotely
with mentoring by assigned lecturers and following both scheduled
and ad hoc assignments/projects. This component is expected to run
over a period of eight weeks.
The execution of the course is done jointly by the partner
universities together. The hosting and organisation of the
intensive week is done on a roster basis, with the host/lead
university rotating every year between the participating universities.
For 2021, a fully online delivery is being planned and the intensive part
of the course will be spread over four weeks instead. Once the COVID-19
restrictions are over, the course can follow the structured components
as outlined above.
PERIOD OF DELIVERY
It is recognised that the needs may differ between SEA-EU Universities
especially in the fitting of the course to existing curricula and master
course programmes, but the course should ideally be followed in the
early stages of a post-graduate course. The first delivery of the
course is being offered for October-December 2021. If there is
sufficient demand the course can be offered twice every year so
that students can more easily slot this course within their
programme of studies.
Again for this first exceptional year the course will spread over a
longer period with the project mode being delivered in the second semester
of the academic year, that is over the period March/ April 2021.
The course is organised in three planned phases.
First part: lectures (13.5h); second part: intensive course (25.5h);
third part: project mode (70h)
Introduction mode (13.5h - setting the data concepts and foundations)
Marine data / introduction (different data types,
importance of data ; why need of data literacy)
Types of data: physical, biogeochemical, ecological models; observations (in situ + remote); Big Data; Artificial Intelligence
Data sharing and FAIR principles
Open Science and Open Research Data; FAIR principles; Data archaeology
Best practices for working with data (data organization and management,
documentation, and storage and data security) (metadata standards)
Data Management; metadata; interoperability ; SeaDataNet; IOC/IODE
Combining data from multiple sources (interoperability and
Distributed databases; THREDDS; cloud resources and services
Reliable oceanographic data sources (overview of oceanographic databases)
Data Mining; CMEMS and EMODnet
Intensive mode (25.5h - 1 week module with physical meeting)
The emphasis on the course delivery during this week is on
practical sessions, giving to students a hands-on application
and acquisition of skills through problem solving of set
practical activities through the search and use of real data.
Major content concerns the acquisition of technical skills for:
Data retrieval and visualisation
This week is organised in a dedicated computer lab with facilities
for individual computing units to each student and availability
of all the necessary technical facilities including software and
applications. The practical sessions are delivered through an
agreed format following the same method of exchange with the
students and a common technical platform. The initial part of
the week is dedicated to the introduction of some common essential
tools to the students so that they gain a good handle on the
use and application of such tools in the rest of the course.
The option is to use open source software applications such
that the students would not necessarily need to rely on any
university systems to follow and execute the course programme.
For students following remotely, the delivery will be done through
a virtual toolkit which can be used on personal laptops.
Part of this week is dedicated to kick start the students on
the course project. Methodology will be given during this week
to let students have the time to think on it and start on the job.
For the academic year 2021/22, this will be conducted complete by remote
sessions to all the participants, and organised in eight sessions spread
over four weeks.
Project mode (70h - module to be continued remotely)
The project mode is intended to take the form of a practical
assignment where the emphasis is on the learning experience
and the students have the opportunity to show their skill to
put into practice some of the knowledge and know-how that they
will have gained during the preceding components of the course.
Assignments for the project mode consist of sea-related challenges
which students will be expected to address by proposing, planning
and developing a prototype solution to tackle, resolve or understand
better a given problem or situation. The nature of the exercise will
focus on the use and merging of data to provide a solution or
assessment to resolve the challenge. Students are expected to
engineer solutions to a specific pre-defined problem that requires
data to be transformed into useable information. A set of challenges
will be proposed to the students, and each challenge will be
supported by a group of at least two mentors; the mentors for
each challenge should ideally be coming from different universities.
A challenge can be taken by more than one team or student.
The choice of a challenge and assignment of students or team
members to each challenge will be done during the intensive
week when the students will come to know each other,
and during which special sessions will be held to introduce
the project mode to the participating students. The students
will be offered a number of challenges prepared by the course
organisors, but it is also possible for students to propose
their own challenges and projects provided that assigned
mentors deem the proposals to be fitting to the course and
feasible in their scope and implementation.
The tackling of challenges by teams is encouraged, favouring
a mix of students from different universities, and with different
academic backgrounds (eg. science + management + legal aspects)
to nourish a multi-disciplinary approach.
The performance of the students in the course is assessed through
all the three course components which can be taken individually,
except for the project mode which can only be taken in combination
with the intensive one-week practical component of the course. The
project mode carries the greater weighting on the project mode.
Students can opt to take either (i) an individual project or
(ii) a team project. The team project is expected to carry a
more elaborated delivery in which each student will need to
have a specific and unique well identified delivery. The individual
project might be most appropriate for those students who could only
follow the course, especially the intensive part, in remote mode.
The assessment of the projects will be done in two steps carrying
equal weighting. The first assessment is done by the mentors on the
basis of a report prepared by the students, and using common agreed
criteria for evaluation. The second part of the assessment is done
through a short online presentation and assessed by an expert panel
composed of members from the course BoS. In the case of challenges
tackled by a team of students, each student will have a separate
and distinct role/aspect to tackle in the challenge, and will be
expected to report and present on that aspect.
The course will be initially accredited by the respective SEA-EU
universities, although different Universities can opt to offer
the course without carrying any credits. Even without the gain
of any credits, students are expected to benefit and gain from
such a course which will boost their individual studies. In the
first year this accreditation will thus be optional and on an
individual SEA-EU university basis, but subsequently it is
intended that a common accreditation will be applied across
the board as a SEA-EU course.
Typically two, three and five ECTS will be accredited to the intro,
practical and project modes respectively.The assessment of the
students will be done at each phase of
the course so that accreditation can be assigned on the individual
course components as well as on the whole course. Credits will
be mainly assigned through the project mode which will be shaped
to enable individual student contributions; these contributions
will serve to assess the student’s performance in the course
according to established assessment criteria. In the case of
a team effort, each student member of a team will need to submit
an individual report and take part directly in the final
presentation of the selected project.