INFOMAR (Integrated Mapping for the Sustainable Development of Ireland's Marine Resource), Ireland's marine mapping programme, a partnership between the Geological Survey Ireland and the Marine Institute, has developed a Level 9 post-graduate module at Masters Level in collaboration with the Department of Geography at Maynooth University. The module focuses on seabed mapping and is called Marine Remote Sensing - INFOMAR. This module comprises both lectures and practicals, and is intended for delivery as part of a post-graduate offering in the areas of marine and geospatial science.
Following months of collaborative preparation and development, the INFOMAR team delivered a series of lectures and practicals over the course of a week, starting on the 20th January, 2020. The module was offered to the students of the University's MSc. in GIS (Geographical Information Systems) and Remote Sensing, along with the MSc. in Climate Change and a number of remote sensing PhD students based in the Department of Geography and the National Centre for Geocomputation. In mid-February 2020 the students will then get the opportunity to carry out mapping work in person onboard the R.V. Celtic Voyager through the experiential learning component of the module.
This 10 ECTS (European Credit Transfer System) module covered a broad range of topics, with lectures including; the fundamentals of oceanography, seabed features, survey technology and planning, coastal remote sensing and the future of ocean science. The accompanying practical sessions then gave the students the chance to work on a range of topics including coastal profile studies, satellite derived bathymetry data and integration of marine mapping data using GIS. At the end of each lecture the students were invited to do an online quiz in order to assess whether they had achieved the learning outcomes and also to help the INFOMAR and Maynooth University team to refine content for future delivery.
A survey compiling formal student module feedback has been very positive and the 2020 cohort are now looking forward to their practical experience at sea. Following this offshore component of the course, they will be assessed through an essay and a reflective report documenting their learnings. The essay topics will test the student's understanding of elements of seabed mapping.
A notable feature of the course is that all the lecturers, being part of the INFOMAR team, have direct experience of mapping in the offshore environment and so were able to engage the students with their own interesting experiences of this fascinating sector.
The module has arrived at a good time as we face into the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development, along with the drive to spread Ocean Literacy.