The optional Signature Seminar is an exciting opportunity to expand your learning beyond the classroom and outside city borders.

The seminar is worth three credits and will be an introduction to the new language, culture, and surroundings that will be your home during the semester. We expect those of you who opt to take the Seminar to be active participants: reading articles, asking questions, taking pictures, and exploring the cities and the sites in your free time.

Note: As of spring 2024, only “BIO312: Marine Ecology of the Mediterranean Sea” is offered as an optional Signature Seminar. BIO312 is offered in the fall and spring semesters, not in the summer.

Marine Ecology of the Mediterranean Sea


The Mediterranean Sea, the world’s largest enclosed body of water, has a high level of biological diversity. The coastal shelf below the 46,000 kilometers of coastline contains a wide variety of rich and important habitats: seagrass meadows, rocky intertidal zones, and estuaries. All these ecosystems are spawning and nursery areas for some of the main fish species used by ancient and modern civilizations. Surrounded by 27 countries and territories, the management of the sea has become a challenge for environmental groups, NGOs, and governments.

This course will study the main coastal and marine ecosystems and physiology, behavior, and ecology of marine and coastal organisms. It will also cover the uses and misuses, the protection measures implemented, and how interactions of different civilizations have shaped and “humanized” the Mediterranean environment. During the seminar we will learn about management practices practiced throughout the Mediterranean basin, we will visit key ecosystems, research facilities, and special interest areas.

Integrated throughout the course will be the skill set for earning an SNSI Diving Certification. The diving instruction will combine theory in the classroom setting and dives in the surrounding bodies of water: the Minor Sea and the Marine Reserve of “Islas Hormigas.” During these dives, you will also apply theoretical terms acquired in the classroom. This course will be taught in English. 

Enrollment priority goes to biology and related science majors and others with a demonstrated academic need (e.g., this course will fulfill a specified degree requirement).

This seminar will explore the coastal ecosystems of Valencia and Murcia. The seminar schedule, itinerary, and procedures are subject to change without notice.

REQUIREMENTS: Ability to swim 200 meters without swim aids or 300 meters with aids such as fins, mask, and snorkel, plus the ability to float without the assistance of a flotation device for 10 minutes. Students placed in this seminar must submit a medical statement signed by their physician and a liability waiver.


The seminar is led by Mónica Pérez-Bedmar, who teaches Oceanography, Marine Ecology, and Earth Science, focusing on global change and sustainable development.  She is pursuing a Doctorate in Ecology, specializing in Environmental Education. She’s also a member of several national and European environmental education organizations.