535.773.81 - Acoustical Oceanography

Mechanical Engineering
Fall 2023


Acoustical Oceanography will cover how active and passive use of sound can be used to study physical parameters and processes, as well as biological species and behaviors, in the ocean environment. The first half of the course will focus on the underlying physics of sound propagation, generation, reception, and scattering in the ocean environment. This foundation will then be leveraged and expanded upon to explore applications of acoustical oceanography for physical, geological, and biological insight through both direct and inverse methods. Throughout the course current research topics will be presented including acoustic tomography, geologic bottom inversion, and marine mammal characterization.


Profile photo of Shane Lani.

Shane Lani


Course Structure

The course materials are divided into modules which can be accessed by clicking Modules on the course menu. A module will have several sections including the overview, content, readings, discussions, and assignments. You are encouraged to preview all sections of the module before starting. Most modules run for a period of seven (7) days, exceptions are noted in the Course Outline. You should regularly check the Calendar and Announcements for assignment due dates.

Course Topics

  1. Course Outline & Math Review
  2. Sound Propagation
  3. Reflection & Transmission
  4. Ray Methods (for underwater propagation modeling)
  5. Mode Methods (for underwater propagation modeling)
  6. Sources & Receivers
  7. Scattering Theory
  8. Bubbles & Biologic Scatterers
  9. Seafloor Mapping
  10. Passive Signal Processing Methods
  11. Active Signal Processing Methods
  12. Sources of Underwater Noise, Pt 1
  13. Sources of Underwater Noise, Pt 2
  14. Hot Topics: Soundscapes, Machine Learning, TBD

Course Goals

Student will become familiar with the primary goals and challenges regarding the use of sound to explore the ocean environment. Through exposure to a balance of technical background and applications within the acoustical oceanography domain, students will develop tools which they can apply to their own problems of interest.

Course Learning Outcomes (CLOs)


Clay, C. S., & Medwin, H. (1977). Acoustical Oceanography: Principles and Applications. Wiley-Interscience.

ISBN-10: 012487570X ISBN-13: 978-0124875708


Kinsler, L. E., Frey, A. R., Coppens, A. B., & Sanders, J. V. (2000). Fundamentals of Acoustics (4th ed). John Wiley & Sons.

ISBN-10: 0471847895 ISBN-13: 978-0471847892


Jensen, F. B., Kuperman, W. A., Porter, M. B., Schmidt, H., & Tolstoy, A. (2011). Computational Ocean Acoustics (Vol. 794). New York: Springer.

ISBN-10: 1441986774 ISBN-13: 978-1441986771


Lurton, X. (2002). An Introduction to Underwater Acoustics: Principles and Applications (Vol. 2). London: Springer.

ISBN-10: 366249969X ISBN-13: 978-3662499696


Bjørnø, L., Neighbors, T., & Bradley, D. (2017). Applied Underwater Acoustics. Amsterdam: Elsevier.

ISBN-10: 0128112409 ISBN-13: 978-0-12-811240-3

Required Software


You will need access to a recent version of MATLAB. A license is provided at no cost to you, through JHU.

Student Coursework Requirements

It is expected that each module will take approximately 6–9 hours per week to complete. Here is an approximate breakdown: reading the assigned sections of the texts (approximately 3–4 hours per week) as well as some outside reading, listening to the audio annotated slide presentations (approximately 1-2 hours per week), and writing assignments (approximately 2–3 hours per week).

This course will consist of the following basic student requirements:

Weekly Discussion Activities
(15% of Final Grade Calculation)

Students will be expected to participate in scheduled 1 on 1 time with the instructor(s) at weeks 2, 8, and 12 as well as asynchronous weekly discussions on topics related to the module learning objectives. Students are responsible for reading all assigned material and being prepared for discussion. The majority of readings are from the course text. Additional reading may be assigned to supplement text readings.

Asynchronous weekly discussions will be held on Canvas. A brief initial conceptual quiz will be administered before the weekly discussion can be joined. This quiz will not be evaluated for correctness, but for completion. Posting a response to the discussion question is part of the grade for module discussions. Evaluation of weekly discussion activities is based on the student’s contribution to discussions.

Assignments (30% of Final Grade Calculation)

Assignments will include a mix of conceptual and computational problem sets along with some MATLAB-based exercises (students are welcome to work in other languages though some code handouts will be specific to MATLAB). If computer code is submitted with a homework, provide comments so that your code can be interpreted.

All assignments are due according to the dates in the Calendar. Late submissions will be reduced by one letter grade for each week late. Assignments extensions may be granted provided coordination with the instructors at least 24-hours before the assignment due date.

Course Project
(20% of Final Grade Calculation)

A course project will be assigned several weeks into the course. The project is designed to allow the student to “own the class” by allowing the student to dive deep into an Acoustical oceanography topic of interest to the individual. Students’ projects will be showcased to the class via a 10-15 min presentation. Each presentation is expected to cover the project motivation, review of the relevant acoustical oceanography concepts, description of the added complexity to the project, summary of results, and relevant conclusions.

(35% of Final Grade Calculation, combined from 15% for Midterm and 20% for Final)

Graded timed exams will be given after Module 7 and at the conclusion of the course. These exams focus on the conceptual application of acoustics and there will be limited derivations or computations. The midterm will focus on the first half of the lectures and the final exam will cover the entire class (35% of total grade, 15% for midterm and 20% for final). Students will have one week to complete the exams; they will be due by 5PM exactly one week from their release. Students may use the course text to complete the exams.

Grading Policy

EP uses a +/- grading system (see “Grading System”, Graduate Programs catalog, p. 10).

Score RangeLetter Grade
100-97= A+
96-93= A
92-90= A−
89-87= B+
86-83= B
82-80= B−
79-77= C+
76-73= C
72-70= C−
69-67= D+
66-63= D
<63= F

Academic Policies

Deadlines for Adding, Dropping and Withdrawing from Courses

Students may add a course up to one week after the start of the term for that particular course. Students may drop courses according to the drop deadlines outlined in the EP academic calendar (https://ep.jhu.edu/student-services/academic-calendar/). Between the 6th week of the class and prior to the final withdrawal deadline, a student may withdraw from a course with a W on their academic record. A record of the course will remain on the academic record with a W appearing in the grade column to indicate that the student registered and withdrew from the course.

Academic Misconduct Policy

All students are required to read, know, and comply with the Johns Hopkins University Krieger School of Arts and Sciences (KSAS) / Whiting School of Engineering (WSE) Procedures for Handling Allegations of Misconduct by Full-Time and Part-Time Graduate Students.

This policy prohibits academic misconduct, including but not limited to the following: cheating or facilitating cheating; plagiarism; reuse of assignments; unauthorized collaboration; alteration of graded assignments; and unfair competition. Course materials (old assignments, texts, or examinations, etc.) should not be shared unless authorized by the course instructor. Any questions related to this policy should be directed to EP’s academic integrity officer at ep-academic-integrity@jhu.edu.

Students with Disabilities - Accommodations and Accessibility

Johns Hopkins University values diversity and inclusion. We are committed to providing welcoming, equitable, and accessible educational experiences for all students. Students with disabilities (including those with psychological conditions, medical conditions and temporary disabilities) can request accommodations for this course by providing an Accommodation Letter issued by Student Disability Services (SDS). Please request accommodations for this course as early as possible to provide time for effective communication and arrangements.

For further information or to start the process of requesting accommodations, please contact Student Disability Services at Engineering for Professionals, ep-disability-svcs@jhu.edu.

Student Conduct Code

The fundamental purpose of the JHU regulation of student conduct is to promote and to protect the health, safety, welfare, property, and rights of all members of the University community as well as to promote the orderly operation of the University and to safeguard its property and facilities. As members of the University community, students accept certain responsibilities which support the educational mission and create an environment in which all students are afforded the same opportunity to succeed academically. 

For a full description of the code please visit the following website: https://studentaffairs.jhu.edu/policies-guidelines/student-code/

Classroom Climate

JHU is committed to creating a classroom environment that values the diversity of experiences and perspectives that all students bring. Everyone has the right to be treated with dignity and respect. Fostering an inclusive climate is important. Research and experience show that students who interact with peers who are different from themselves learn new things and experience tangible educational outcomes. At no time in this learning process should someone be singled out or treated unequally on the basis of any seen or unseen part of their identity. 
If you have concerns in this course about harassment, discrimination, or any unequal treatment, or if you seek accommodations or resources, please reach out to the course instructor directly. Reporting will never impact your course grade. You may also share concerns with your program chair, the Assistant Dean for Diversity and Inclusion, or the Office of Institutional Equity. In handling reports, people will protect your privacy as much as possible, but faculty and staff are required to officially report information for some cases (e.g. sexual harassment).

Course Auditing

When a student enrolls in an EP course with “audit” status, the student must reach an understanding with the instructor as to what is required to earn the “audit.” If the student does not meet those expectations, the instructor must notify the EP Registration Team [EP-Registration@exchange.johnshopkins.edu] in order for the student to be retroactively dropped or withdrawn from the course (depending on when the "audit" was requested and in accordance with EP registration deadlines). All lecture content will remain accessible to auditing students, but access to all other course material is left to the discretion of the instructor.