AMS Ocean Studies Course Overview

What is the course?

AMS Ocean Studies is an introductory oceanography course provided by the American Meteorological Society to undergraduate institutions for local offering. The course is prepared by an experienced team of oceanographers and science educators. AMS Ocean Studies is produced in cooperation with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

AMS Ocean Studies examines the world ocean from an Earth system perspective. The course emphasizes (1) the flow and transformations of water and energy into and out of the ocean, (2) the physical and chemical properties of seawater, (3) ocean circulation, (4) marine life and its adaptations, (5) interactions between the ocean and the other components of the Earth system (i.e., hydrosphere, atmosphere, geosphere, and biosphere), and (6) the human/societal impacts on and response to those Earth System interactions. AMS Ocean Studies is modeled after the highly successful AMS Weather Studies course, which has been licensed by over 400 institutions. AMS Ocean Studies has been implemented at over 130 institutions.

At the instructor's option, students are introduced to the dynamic ocean:

How can the course be implemented?

>>Go to the Options for Using Course Materials page to learn more.

Who can offer the course?

AMS Ocean Studies can be offered by experienced science faculty or those new to teaching the ocean sciences. Collegial assistance is available to all new instructors.

This course has been successfully offered by faculty from many scientific disciplines, including oceanography, geology, meteorology, geography, biology, and physics.

During course implementation and instruction, collegial assistance is available from faculty members who have already offered AMS Ocean Studies. Also, AMS science educators will answer any questions on all aspects of course delivery and content. This course enables faculty members to expand and/or update their curriculum and join the ranks of colleagues teaching with the latest technology.

What are the course components?

Textbook - The full-color, hardcover, 15 chapter Ocean Studies: Introduction to Oceanography Second Edition (© 2008) text features up-to-date comprehensive descriptions of oceanographic phenomena and research topics from an Earth System perspective. Oceanographers M. Grant Gross of Washington College (MD) and Elizabeth Gross of the Scientific Committee on Oceanic Research were major contributors to the writing of the textbook's first edition. The editor for the second edition of the text is Joseph M. Moran (AMS education program), author of several leading meteorology and environmental science textbooks at the introductory college level. Topical coverage is similar to that found in most introductory oceanography texts. The textbook contains ten Questions for Review and ten Critical Thinking Questions per chapter.

At the instructor's option, the Ocean Studies textbook may be used as part of the turnkey AMS Ocean Studies course package (including the Investigations Manual, globe, and Course Website) or by itself. Textbook-Only users have access to a special Internet website that delivers the Weekly Ocean News and current ocean products. A license is not required for this text-only option.

>>Go to the Ocean Studies Textbook page to view the table of contents and a sample chapter.

Investigations Manual - A set of student learning investigations is coordinated with the text chapters. Investigations lead the student through analysis and interpretation of real-world oceanographic data. Weekly Current Ocean Studies posted to the Course Website during fall and spring semesters may be used to reinforce Manual investigations using more current ocean data and information.

The Investigations Manual is designed to function as a self-contained course for those wishing to have all course material in their hands before the course starts, those wanting to preload all course material into their institution's e-learning course management system at the beginning of each term and/or those whose academic calendars do not match the AMS Ocean Studies delivery schedule.

The Investigations Manual is packaged with an inflatable globe (to represent the ocean in true three-dimensional spatial relationships) used in many investigations.

The current weekly ocean investigations are prepared by Joseph M. Moran (AMS education program), Robert S. Weinbeck (State University of New York - Brockport and AMS education program), Ira W. Geer (Senior Education Fellow, AMS education program), and oceanographer H. Joseph Niebauer (University of Wisconsin - Madison). All have extensive experience teaching introductory environmental science courses and conducting NSF- and NOAA-funded faculty and teacher enhancement projects.

>>Go to the AMS Ocean Studies Investigations Manual page to to view the list of investigations and sample activities.

Course Website - The Course Website delivers Weekly Ocean News, current ocean data and graphics, and satellite imagery throughout the year and Current Ocean Studies in real time during the fall and spring semesters and as archived material throughout the year. To access the Course Website, a Login ID and Password are required by all licensed students and faculty. A special site is available for all faculty considering this course offering, where the course website and course delivery mechanisms may be previewed. Go to the Course Website Preview to view sample of the website components described below.

Faculty Resource CD and Website- The CD contains the faculty manual, Investigations Manual answer forms compatible with course management systems, test bank questions, and textbook images. The faculty manual describes the course and its components and contains suggestions for course implementation in a variety of classroom settings. Included for each text chapter is an outline, summary, and learning objectives.

The CD Investigations Manual answer forms are files compatible with Respondus, test-generating software for which your institution may have a license. This program opens formatted files and converts them to various course management system files.

Test bank questions are available in a variety of formats, including Microsoft Word, text, PDF, and Respondus-compatible files. The CD also contains Investigations Manual answer forms and keys in Word, text, and PDF formats, and the electronic versions of textbook chapter Review and Critical Thinking Questions found in the Investigations Manual.

A secure faculty website delivers answers to chapter Review and Critical Thinking, Investigations Manual, and Current Ocean Studies questions. The website includes Respondus-formatted answer forms for Current Ocean Studies.

When are the real-time course components delivered?

The real-world case studies in the Investigations Manual allow the combination of Manual and textbook to function as a full course. Many institutions offering the course during fall and spring semesters may choose to use Current Ocean Studies on the course website to expand on important concepts using current or recent oceanographic data.

Current Ocean Studies are posted by about noon Eastern Time on Mondays. During fall and spring semesters, Current Ocean Studies files accumulate in the "Archives" section of the course website as the semester progresses. "Current Ocean Studies" activities for Chapter 13, 14, and 15, designed for use at any point during the course, are updated at the beginning of each fall semester and available year-round. Current Ocean Studies answer keys and Respondus-compatible files will be posted to the faculty website on the same schedule.

>>View the real-time course delivery schedule.

How do I integrate this course with my Course Management System?

The Investigations Manual, Current Ocean Studies learning investigations, and test banks can be ported into your system’s quizzing function for automated scoring and immediate student feedback. This feature allows for full integration into an e-learning environment. We provide course management system-compatible files in Respondus format, software for which many campuses are licensed.

>>Go to the Course Management System Integration page to learn about the easy three step process for porting our files into your system.

How do I host this course at my college?

If you would like to use the entire AMS Ocean Studies course package, which includes the Textbook, Investigations Manual, and access to our Course and Faculty Websites, your college will need to have a completed Course License on file with the AMS Education Program. The Course License fee (from August 15th to August 14th) is $149 per institution, regardless of number of sections or number of students.

If you would like to use the Textbook-Only Option, a license is not required, but please contact us to request instructor materials.

With an AMS Ocean Studies license, your college receives:

If you have any additional questions or concerns, please visit our "Frequently Asked Questions" page or contact us at 1-800-824-0405.

To license the course:

  1. Call us at 202-737-1043 or toll free at 1-800-824-0405 (ask for the AMS Ocean Studies Coordinator)
  2. Download the License Order Form and fax to us at 202-737-0445 or toll-free at 1-800-258-1176 or mail to us at
    AMS Ocean Studies
    American Meteorological Society
    1120 G Street, NW, Suite 800
    Washington, DC 20005
  3. Send us e-mail at