Explore the half of our world covered by deep ocean, and how our lives affect the hidden face of our planet.

60,702 enrolled on this course

A deep ocean giant isopod
  • Duration

    4 weeks
  • Weekly study

    3 hours

The first astronauts to leave the Earth’s orbit saw our “blue planet” for the first time. But what lies in the half of our world covered by water more than two miles deep? How are our everyday lives connected to the ocean depths, and what challenges and opportunities does this previously hidden realm hold for our future?

In this course you will join scientists exploring the ocean from the deepest undersea vents to the chilly waters of the Poles, going deeper, longer, and more often than ever before - and find how what we now know about the ocean depths is as amazing as the unknown that remains. By taking this course, you will see how the deep ocean is no longer out of reach, and join a global debate about the future of our “blue planet”.

The course consists of four structured weeks, each dealing with a different aspect of exploring our oceans, but brought together by a common narrative. The course content includes a variety of videos, articles, discussions and assignments.

The course provides a taster of the subject and we hope the topics we have chosen give you an overview of this fascinating area. For those requiring further depth, we’ll be providing external links and additional resources each week.

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Skip to 0 minutes and 12 seconds The first astronauts to leave the Earth’s orbit saw our blue planet for the first time, but what lies in the half of our world covered by deep ocean? How do our lives affect it, and what challenges and opportunities does it hold for our future?

Skip to 0 minutes and 45 seconds Join our team of world class researchers on a mission to explore the hidden face of our world and see our planet as never before. Our scientists at the University of Southampton are exploring the ocean, from the deepest undersea vents to the chilly waters of the poles, mapping previously uncharted depths, discovering new species of marine life, and investigating the role of the oceans in how our planet works. Working with the latest underwater technology and colleagues around the world, our team are going deeper, longer, and more often than ever before, and what we now know about the ocean depths is as amazing as the unknown that still remains.

Skip to 1 minute and 28 seconds Ocean science is as big as the oceans themselves and crucial to understanding our planet. In this course, you’ll investigate an underwater realm that’s been unknown for most of human history. You’ll see how the ocean depths are no longer out of reach and how they’re connected to our everyday lives. By taking what you’ve learned and discussing it with other people who may be taking the course, or your friends or family, even government organisations and charities, you can join in a global debate about the future of our blue planet. The oceans control the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the food we eat, but 64% of the oceans aren’t protected by national law. So who does own the oceans?

Skip to 2 minutes and 8 seconds How are the oceans connected to our everyday lives, and who’s responsible for their future?

What topics will you cover?

  • History of ocean exploration
  • Modern mapping of the oceans
  • The movement of ocean currents
  • The composition of the ocean
  • Ocean biodiversity
  • Characteristics of life in the deep sea
  • Deep ocean resources and ownership
  • Human impacts on the deep ocean

When would you like to start?

  • Date to be announced

Add to Wishlist to be emailed when new dates are announced

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Evaluate the degree to which humans have mapped the deep ocean and its habitats
  • Identify key controls on seawater composition and circulation
  • Assess the distribution of salt in the ocean
  • Interpret Collector's Curves to estimate numbers of undiscovered new species
  • Explain some adaptations to life in deep ocean habitats
  • Reflect on personal effectiveness in limiting potential impacts on deep ocean environments

Who is the course for?

Everyone is welcome to take this course, and no previous knowledge is required or assumed.

What do people say about this course?

"Thank you again for that wonderful course.I am even more in love with the ocean now and would like to continue my commitment in marine conservation.I am very keen on hydrothermal vents topic and I will read more about it.Thank you also for all extraordinary additional materials like videos and articles. Cannot wait to participate in more courses like this one."

"Best course ever. I do it often but I always seem to pick up new things. Thought it was my memory, but understandable now I learn the course is regularly updated. Good choice - got to keep your *Star* in top notch condition!"

Who will you learn with?

Professor of Ocean Exploration & Science Communication,
University of Southampton

Author of "Ask an Ocean Explorer", 2019: http://bit.ly/oceanxplr

Science advisor for BBC Blue Planet II


Senior Vice President Academic at King’s College London. Former member of Exploring our Ocean team,



Who developed the course?

University of Southampton

Southampton is a place for ambitious people keen to stretch their intellectual abilities and help change the world.

Learning on FutureLearn

Your learning, your rules

  • Courses are split into weeks, activities, and steps to help you keep track of your learning
  • Learn through a mix of bite-sized videos, long- and short-form articles, audio, and practical activities
  • Stay motivated by using the Progress page to keep track of your step completion and assessment scores

Join a global classroom

  • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
  • Share ideas with your peers and course educators on every step of the course
  • Join the conversation by reading, @ing, liking, bookmarking, and replying to comments from others

Map your progress

  • As you work through the course, use notifications and the Progress page to guide your learning
  • Whenever you’re ready, mark each step as complete, you’re in control
  • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

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