Syllabus - Spring Qtr, 2004
Oceanography - GS-4W
Prof William Prothero


••• Lab Section Meets the first week of class ••• The lab book is REQUIRED for the first lab session. Buy it in the bookstore.

All assignments are on the class web pages <Assignment Schedule>

Class site:

This class is about how the earth works. I hope it will inform you of vital issues and the science behind then in this rapidly changing world, where global warming and environmental degradation seem to be an inevitable part of our future. The ocean plays a key role in the earth's climate system, not only as a producer of food and source of recreation, but as a transporter of heat energy, sink for greenhouse gases, and moderator of the climate. Decisions that irreversibly affect the health of our Earth environment are made on the basis of scientific findings that have significant political and economic implications. Computer literacy and communication skills are also vital for the literate 21'st century citizen. In this course you will access Earth data, ponder on its meaning, work with your fellow students, critically evaluate science issues, write two science papers, and participate in an "Earth Summit Conference." I hope for you to learn how to gather your own information and make your own informed conclusions about the implications of scientific research.

This course is different from GS-4 taught by other professors. The use of real Earth data and science writing are emphasized instead of memorization of lecture material. My course requires more of your time than other versions. You will use the computer for data access, writing, and Internet access to information on the World-Wide Web. These skills will be very useful to you in your future college courses and career.

•• This course satisfies an L&S Writing Requirement ••

The subject matter for this course:

  • ocean basins and processes which shape them,
  • atmosphere and oceans
  • climate
  • ocean waves and beaches
  • world fisheries

How hard is this class?

The class grade average is generally higher than other versions of this course. Any student willing to put in the effort can get a good grade this class. In the past, grades were on the curve and 12% got D's or lower. In this class, grading is on an absolute scale and theoretically, all students could get A's. However, students put in a great deal of work on their assignments.

Required course material:

  • Textbook (optional): Introductory Oceanography, by Thurman and Burton (Bookstore). Note: The textbook is optional this quarter. I have assigned readings from the web. However, you may find the textbook useful as a supplement.
  • Lab Workbook: Introduction to Oceanography, Spring 2004, by W. Prothero (UCSB Bookstore): Bring the lab workbook to your lab section.
  • Lecture Helper Course info and self-graded in-class activities (UCSB Bookstore). Bring the Lecture Helper to lecture.
  • EarthEd Online CDROM: Handed out in class. Install this on your own computer to access homeworks and other online activities from your home.
  • Scientific Calculator: Bring to lab section.


TR, 11:00-12:15 AM, Embarcadero Hall, IV. Bring your textbook (if you have one), Lecture Helper, and calculator.

URL for class assignments, readings, and other resources:


  • 2 hrs/week, PSB 2712, scheduled time
  • The computer lab - Phelps hall will have the EarthEd software available.

Every student is required to attend every section meeting.

There are substantial penalties for missed sections.

If you miss 2 sections, you get F for the course, regardless of your other grades.

Office Hrs:

  • See PSB lab schedule for my office hrs, or by arrangement.
  • Please feel free to stop by my office (Webb 1051) any time, to see if you can find me. TR- afternoons are the most likely. Invite me to lunch! Sometimes I buy!
  • Phone: 893-3308, email:
  • Home phone: 687-1005. This is for emergency! Please don't call me for info contained in the syllabus or lab workbook. Find PSB-2712 yourself. Please DO call me to solve problems caused by anxiety, or if you can't get hold of me any other way.

TA Office Hrs will be posted when they are available.

Exams and grading:

Grades will be assigned to (see the course web pages for the percentage breakdowns) <link>:

  • Weekly homework assignments
  • Lab activities
  • Writing assignments)
  • In-class activities
  • Weekly online thought problems
  • Weekly online quizzes
  • Final Exam: June 9, 12-3 PM (no special exams)