Marine Sciences? New course starting January 2021
Russell Stevens
Russell Stevens is the Head of Education at the Two Oceans Aquarium Education Foundation, and held that title at the Two Oceans Aquarium since the year 2000. Russell has many dreams around education, one of which was realised recently by successfully launching Marine Sciences as a national FET subject in South Africa.

Offering Marine Sciences as a subject in schools has been our dream for many years. Our education team took it upon themselves to write a Marine Sciences curriculum which was approved by the South African Minister of Education in 2019. We are delighted that the subject has been successfully offered at a Grade 10 level at six pilot schools in the Western Cape province. Students at these schools will be the first South Africans to write Marine Sciences as a Grade 12 Matric subject in 2022.

Progressing from the recent challenges to education, and on the unprecedented successes of our Online Marine Sciences Academy courses during the lockdown period, Marine Sciences will be offered as an online course to interested students starting January 2021.




Who should take the course?

  • Grade 10 students in 2021, from any province within South Africa, who have a real interest in the ocean. By arrangement with their school, such students may take the subject as one of their 7 Matric subjects or as an additional 8th Subject
  • Adults currently working in the Marine Tourism or similar workspace, inside or outside of South Africa



What does the Marine Sciences subject entail?

Marine Sciences is made up of a range of topics, woven together in a transdisciplinary subject designed to educate students who have an interest in the ocean, its workings and the ocean’s influence on marine and land-based life. It is an ideal subject for those wishing to be employed in ocean-based industries after Matric or study further in the field of Marine Sciences.

It connects the realms of water, rocks, sediments, air, living organisms that inhabit the ocean, and their engagements with each other. It draws attention to ocean ecosystems and their sensitivity to human activity and resource use. Decision makers and the public need an increased awareness about the complex relationships that affect the ocean. The course will equip students with a thorough understanding, to think about ways to conserve and sustain the ocean for the future and is informed by the following four strands.

1. Oceanography: Marine geology, geography, chemistry and physics that explains:

  • chemical composition and properties of sea water, and the effects of pollutants on ocean life
  • ways in which the ocean acts as a driver of weather and climate
  • diving science, waves, tides and currents

2. Marine biology: investigates classification, fundamental biology, marine biodiversity, evolutionary processes and organism adaptations to their environments.

3. Ecology: explores ecosystems such as rocky shores, kelp forests and sandy beaches through ecological concepts including nutrient cycles and food chains.

4. Humans and the ocean: highlights:

  • Marine careers
  • Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) as a model for sustainably managing ocean resources
  • Harvesting of renewable and non-renewable ocean resources
  • The importance of research in understanding the ocean and the effects that human activities
  • Climate change and ocean acidification

Sustainability is foregrounded in the teaching of the entire subject.


The subject will run after school hours as an online course and there will be practical sessions that will be arranged by the Two Oceans Aquarium Education Foundation team for three or four days, for example during two school holidays of each year.

The cost of the course is R6 255 per annum and will run for three years. Those interested should email education@aquariumfoundation.org.za or fill in this form so that we can send you more information.