Bachelor of Marine Science

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Bachelor of Marine Science

JCU introduced marine science studies to Australia, and today we continue to break new ground in the field. You will too when you study with us.

At JCU you will study with the best marine scientists in the world. We rank number one in Marine and Freshwater Biology out of 26,000 degree-granting institutions in the world on the Centre for World University Ranking scale. With six of the world's top ten tropical marine biologists on staff you will be right there as new discoveries that impact the marine world are made. JCU introduced Marine Science studies to Australia, and continues to take the lead by redeveloping the Marine Science course to focus on developing skills in sensor technology — exciting new tools enabling marine science research into the future.

JCU's Bachelor of Marine Science focuses on developing the high-level skills technologically enabled professionals need if they are to address the challenges facing the world’s oceans over coming decades. A diversity of rapidly evolving technologies are providing marine scientists with increasingly powerful ways to collect diverse data from above and below the waves; data that support and direct solutions to previously insoluble problems. These methods include: water quality sensors, seabed mapping and fish assessment sonar, sensors for detecting underwater mineral deposits and wrecked ships, oceanographic sensors, acoustic tagging and tracking equipment, sensors for monitoring the activity and physical environment of marine mammals, reptiles and fish.

Start dates
February, July
3 years full-time
Part time available
Study mode
On campus
Assumed knowledge
Assumed knowledge: English (4,SA), Maths B (4,SA), Chemistry (4,SA). Recommended: at least one of Biology, Earth Science, Geography, Maths C or Physics (4,SA)

Career opportunities

JCU’s Marine Science degree has been developed in consultation with private corporations and federal, state and local government marine professionals from disciplines as diverse as marine geologists, physical and biological oceanographers, marine biologists and marine chemists. That means that the technological skills you develop with be broadly applicable in addressing today's and tomorrow’s challenges facing the world’s oceans. So your field-leading Marine Science qualification will give you a head-start in an exciting career locally or internationally in a diversity of fields including:

  • Fisheries Science and Management
  • Marine Conservation Research and Conservation Policy
  • Environmental Research and Management
  • Marine Geoscience and Hydrography
  • Physical and Biological Oceanography
  • Marine Technology
  • Marine Data Acquisition and Analysis
  • Marine Impact Assessment

Completing the JCU Bachelor of Marine Science can also open career options in:

  • Tourism
  • Education

You will also automatically become a member of the Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology (IMarEST).

Course highlights

This inspiring JCU course will see you studying with a university that is recognised as a world leader in marine science research. While you study, you'll be doing practical work and using up-to-the-minute research and real data. And choosing JCU means you'll be studying right at the doorstep of the World Heritage Great Barrier Reef and among some of the world's most pristine waterways. For example, at JCU you will learn about

  • Managing human impacts on marine environments
  • Protecting Australia's marine reserves
  • Safeguarding the world's largest natural resource - the ocean.

The practical nature of the course will allow you to

  • Use advanced marine technology to measure aspects of the marine environment
  • Gain experience with a wide range of marine sensors in field work at sea
  • Learn how to analyse large marine data sets to extract important information
  • Work on Orpheus Island Research Station and the spectacular Hinchinbrook Channel
  • Participate in practical work aboard research vessels
  • Research on-site at coral reefs, islands, seagrass beds and mangroves
  • Study in JCU's advanced research aquariums and laboratories.

You may also have opportunities to undertake an exchange program with an international university.

Course overview

This is a degree that focuses on giving you practical skills in advanced marine science and technology. It is different from most other marine biology or marine science degrees as there is an additional focus on technology and its application. You'll learn from JCU's experts how to manage human impacts and preserve dynamic marine environments. Among the fascinating and very relevant core subjects and options available to you are:

  • Fundamentals of Biological Processes
  • Environmental Processes and Global Change
  • Marine Measurement Technology
  • Sensors and Sensing
  • Geographic Information Systems
  • Physical Oceanography
  • Functional Ecology
  • Chemistry of the Ocean
  • Marine Geology
  • Managing Coastal and Marine Environments
  • Conserving Marine Wildlife: Sea Mammals, Birds, Reptiles
  • Biological Oceanography
  • Fisheries Science.

Professional recognition

When you graduate, you will automatically become a member of the Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology (IMarEST). You'll also become a Registered Marine Scientist, with the opportunity to become a Chartered Marine Scientist. As well, you will be eligible to apply for membership of professional organisations including the Australian Marine Science Association and the Australian Coral Reef Society.

How to apply

Check the QTAC information and apply by clicking on the relevant link below depending on where you wish to study.

Take note of the QTAC code for this course in the location you've chosen because you'll need to enter it as part of your QTAC application.

Townsville (316251) - Apply now

OP Score/Rank is indicative only. Entry scores will be finalised in the major offer round.

Pathway into course

JCU offers pathway courses to help you move into a degree at JCU. Pathway courses provide you with an individualised study plan and specialised support as you transition to university. Contact us for more information.


Bachelor of Marine Science

Handbook year


Course code


Course type

Bachelor Degree (AQF Level 7)


Tropical Environments and Societies

Award Requirements

Admission Requirements

Course pre-requisites

Assumed Knowledge: English (4,SA); Maths B (4,SA); Chemistry (4,SA)

Recommended Study: At least one of Biology, Earth Science, Geography, Maths C or Physics

Minimum English language proficiency requirements

Applicants of non-English speaking backgrounds must meet the English language proficiency requirements of Band 1 Schedule II of the JCU Admissions Policy.

Additional course requirements

Applicants who have not completed high school intermediate level Mathematics B (or equivalent) must select MA1020: Preparatory Mathematics as part of their study plan to successfully complete the Bachelor of Marine Science.

Applicants who have not completed high school Chemistry (or equivalent) must select CH1020: Preparatory Chemistry as part of their study plan to successfully complete the Bachelor of Marine Science.

Students should undertake the above subject/s in block mode where available and be aware that restrictions may apply to electives if they wish to complete in the normal three (3) year time frame. These subjects typically start earlier than the standard course commencement date. Contact JCU on 1800 246 446 for more information.

This course involves mandatory field work and any costs associated with that field work will be at the student’s expense.

Academic Requirements for Course Completion

Credit points

72 credit points as per course structure

Additional course rules

Must complete a minimum of 18 credit points of Level 3 subjects.

Course learning outcomes

The graduates of James Cook University are prepared and equipped to create a brighter future for life in the tropics world-wide.

JCU graduates are committed to lifelong learning, intellectual development, and to the display of exemplary personal, professional and ethical standards. They have a sense of their place in the tropics and are charged with professional, community, and environmental responsibility.  JCU graduates appreciate the need to embrace and be acquainted with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples of Australia. They are committed to reconciliation, diversity and sustainability. They exhibit a willingness to lead and to contribute to the intellectual, environmental, cultural, economic and social challenges of regional, national, and international communities of the tropics.

Graduates of the Bachelor of Marine Science at James Cook University will be able to:

  • Integrate and apply a coherent body of theoretical and technical knowledge of the marine environment and sustainable management of marine and coastal resources, with depth in the underlying concepts and principles in at least two science disciplines

  • Critically appraise the role and relevance of marine sciences in the creation of sustainable futures, particularly in the tropics, worldwide

  • Demonstrate broad understanding of the methods of science, particularly as applied to marine sciences, including the creative processes involved in developing scientific knowledge and its contestable and testable nature

  • Retrieve, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information from a range of sources

  • Plan and conduct reliable, evidence-based laboratory and/or field investigations, by selecting and applying appropriate methods, techniques and tools

  • Organise, analyse and interpret scientific data using mathematical, statistical and/or technological skills

  • Convey scientific ideas, arguments and conclusions clearly and coherently through well-developed written and oral communication skills and a variety of media

  • Identify, analyse and generate solutions to unpredictable or complex problems relating to the behaviour and management of marine systems by applying knowledge and skills with initiative and well-developed judgement

  • Critically review regulatory requirements, ethical principles and, where appropriate, cultural frameworks, to work effectively, responsibly and safely in diverse contexts and interdisciplinary or multidisciplinary teams

  • Reflect on current skills, knowledge and attitudes to manage their professional learning needs and performance, autonomously and in collaboration with others.

Course Structure


Level 1

BS1007:03 Introduction to Biodiversity

CH1001:03 Chemistry: A Central Science

EA1110:03 Evolution of the Earth

MA1000:03 Mathematical Foundations

MB1110:03 Introductory Marine Science

SC1102:03 Modelling Natural Systems or SC1109:03 Modelling Natural Systems - Advanced

Level 2

SC2202:03 Quantitative Methods in Science or SC2209:03 Quantitative Methods in Science-Advanced

EV2502:03 Introduction to Geographic Information Systems

PH2006:03 Marine Physics

CH2042:03 Marine Chemistry and Chemical Ecology

MB2050:03 Functional Biology of Marine Organisms

Level 3

MB3050:03 Biological Oceanography

EV3406:03 Coral Reef Geomorphology

EA3110:03 Sedimentology and Stratigraphy

EA3640:03 Advanced Environmental and Marine Geoscience Technologies and Applications

MB3270:03 Coastal, Estuarine and Mangrove Ecosystems

SC3010:03 Sensors and Sensing for Scientists

SC3232:03 Marine Sensor Technologies and Applications


Applicants who have not completed high school intermediate level Mathematics B (or equivalent) must select MA1020 Preparatory Mathematics as part of their study plan to successfully complete the Bachelor of Marine Science.

MA1020:03 Preparatory Mathematics or any Level 1, 2 or 3 of AQ, BC, BM, BS, BZ, CH, CL, CP, CS, EA, EE, EV, MA, MB, ME, MI, PH or SC subjects

Applicants who have not completed high school Chemistry (or equivalent) must select CH1020 Preparatory Chemistry as part of their study plan to successfully complete the Bachelor of Marine Science

CH1020:03 Preparatory Chemistry or any Level 1, 2 or 3 of AQ, BC, BM, BS, BZ, CH, CL, CP, CS, EA, EE, EV, MA, MB, ME, MI, PH or SC subjects


Select 12 credit points of subjects from List 1 or a Minor from Table A or an Inter-disciplinary Minor

List 1

Note: Streams listed below are for guidance only


  • Chemistry
  • Earth Science
  • Environmental Science
  • Fisheries
  • Marine Biology
  • Maths
  • Physics


CH1002:03 Chemistry: Principles and Applications

CH2310:03 Syntheses and Mechanism in Organic Chemistry

CH2103:03 Analytical Chemistry

CH3041:03 Environmental Chemistry

Earth Science

EA2404:03 From Icehouse to Greenhouse

EA2900:03 Introductory Field Geology

EA3800:03 Earth and Environmental Geochemistry

EA3210:03 Structural Geology Tectonics or EA3650:03 Sedimentary Environments and Energy Resources

Environmental Science

Select 4 subjects from:

EV1005:03 Environmental Processes & Global Change

EV2401:03 Australian Landscape Processes and Evolution

EV3401:03 Coastal and Catchment Geomorphology

EV3502:03 Advanced Geographic Information Systems

EV3506:03 Remote Sensing


BS2460:03 Fundamentals of Ecology

MB2080:03 Invertebrate Biology

MB3014:03 Managing Tropical Fisheries

MB3150:03 Fisheries Science

Marine Biology

Select 4 subjects from:

BS2460:03 Fundamentals of Ecology

MB2070:03 Marine Biogeography

MB2080:03 Invertebrate Biology

MB3160:03 Evolution and Ecology of Reef Fishes

MB3190:03 Coral Reef Ecology

MB3260:03 Ecological Dynamics: An Introduction to Modelling


MA1003:03 Mathematical Techniques

Plus select 3 subjects from:

MA2000:03 Mathematics for Scientists and Engineers

MA2210:03 Linear Algebra

MA2405:03 Advanced Statistical Modelling

CP2404:03 Database Modelling

MA3405:03 Statistical Data Mining for Big Data


PH1005:03 Advanced Stream Physics 1

PH3006:03 Oceanography and Meteorology

Plus select 2 subjects from:

PH2002:03 Classical Mechanics and Quantum Physics 1

PH2019:03 Introduction to Electromagnetism Optics and Early Quantum

PH2240:03 Atomic and Nuclear Physics


Type of Minor

Optional, Single

Credit points in minor

12 credit points




Advanced Chemistry



Advanced Mathematics



Advanced Physics






Environmental Geochemistry






Field Studies in Earth Sciences






Marine & Environmental Science and Sensors






Physical Geography











Expected time to complete

3 years full-time or equivalent part-time

Maximum time to complete

9 years

Maximum leave of absence

3 years


Course progression requisites

Must complete 18 credit points of Level 1 and 2 science subjects before attempting any Level 3 science subjects.

Course includes mandatory professional placement(s)


Course includes mandatory fieldwork


Special assessment requirements


Accreditation requirements


Maximum allowed Pass Conceded (PC) grade


Supplementary exam for final subject

Not applicable

Advanced Standing


Students may apply for advanced standing for previous tertiary study in accordance with the Credit and Articulation policy and associated procedures.

Maximum allowed

48 credit points


Advanced standing will be granted only for studies completed in the 10 years prior to the commencement of this course.


Advanced standing gained for any subject shall be cancelled 19 years after the date of the examination upon which the advanced standing is based if, by then, the student has not completed this course.

Other restrictions

A maximum of 6 credit points of advanced standing may be granted at level 3.

Advanced standing will not be granted for CH1020, MA1020 or PH1001.

Award Details

Award title


Approved abbreviation


Inclusion of majors on testamur

Not applicable - this course does not have majors

Exit with lesser award

Students who have completed 24 credit points of their course award requirements, and withdraw from or fail to meet the requirements for progression in the later years, may be eligible for the award of Diploma of Tertiary Studies.

Course articulation

Not applicable


Honours availability

Honours is available as a separate graduate entry course.


Students must satisfy the college requirements relating to the standard of academic achievement necessary to proceed to the honours degree.


High achieving Bachelor of Marine Science students can continue their studies through the Bachelor of Science (Honours) degree. This course consists of extra study and the development of a personal research project and thesis. An Honours degree is usually essential for entry to research higher degrees. Refer to the Bachelor of Science (Honours) Handbook for eligibility information.

This website is intended as general guide. Prospective students should contact the university to confirm admission requirements and the availability of courses. James Cook University reserves the right to alter any course or admission requirement without prior notice.