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Master of Science

Townsville, Cairns
February, July
1.5 years full-time
Part-time available
Attendance mode
Entry Requirements
AQF Level 7 bachelor degree in science with minimum GPA of 5.0; or equivalent
Not applicable
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Gain significant employability skills to work as a science professional in Australia and internationally. JCU graduates work across the public or private sector for business, government, educational, research and not for profit agencies.

Develop your career as a:

  • Biologist
  • Conservation agent
  • Educator
  • Environmental manager
  • Field or laboratory technician
  • Geologist
  • Research scientist
  • Resource consultant
  • Science communicator

JCU students increase their employability by either diversifying their portfolio of subjects or deepening their areas of specialisations.

JCU Science is a leader in experiential learning. JCU students learn through practical experiences in diverse environments and work in award-winning teaching facilities. To broaden their perspectives, students can choose to study subjects in Singapore, the Galapagos, Thailand or Vietnam.

By evaluating global challenges, and designing and communicating solutions driven by disciplined innovation, JCU Science graduates are prepared for a changing future.

Students choose from seven majors and can select elective subjects within the same major, or from another discipline to enhance their learning. Only the Environmental Earth Science and Tropical Biology and Conservation majors are available at the Cairns campus.

Aquaculture Science and Technology

Students learn the principals of tropical aquaculture and gain technical skills in the world’s fastest-growing food production sector. Focusing on fish, shellfish and pearls, students develop a theoretical and practical understanding of the science of fish farming.

Build professional skills for working in research, stock improvement, and the harvesting and processing of product. Experience learning in the state-of-the-art JCU Marine Aquaculture Field Station and participate in placements with industry partners.

Environmental Earth Science

Students access world-class lecturers and researchers to develop knowledge of the impacts of land use, land management, and climate change on the earth surface. Using current techniques, students investigate methods to control or minimise the harmful effects of human activity on the environment.

Learn from the diverse environments of the Tropics. Work in the Daintree Rainforest, fertile agricultural regions, the vast savannah outback, magnificent tropical rivers and diverse coastlines.

Environmental Management

Develop knowledge of how natural environments function and change over time. Students build an understanding of how societies can conserve, use and modify these environments and the resources they provide.

Benefit from gaining specialised technical skills such as remote sensing, Geographic Information Systems, and Environmental and Social Impact Assessment. JCU graduates comprehensively understand the interconnected ecological and social aspects of managing national and international ecosystems.

Fisheries Science and Management

Develop an understanding of how to protect and manage marine resources. Gain practical experience in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and build skills in stock assessments, subsistence industrial fishing practices and technology development.

Learn from leading researchers and engage with JCU’s local and international partners in research, industry practice and governance. Graduates have an interdisciplinary perspective and understand marine resource management processes.


Students develop an advanced understanding of global issues including mining, energy and ground water resources, environmental problems and climate change. Build practical experience studying rocks and minerals in the Great Artesian Basin, the Savannah and the areas surrounding the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

Learn to find feasible and sustainable ways to extract resources, or evaluate geologic natural hazards that may threaten communities. JCU graduates create innovative solutions using natural resources to develop sustainable energy solutions.

Marine Biology

JCU students learn from lecturers and researchers who are global leaders in their field. Understand how to inform best practice outcomes for communities, industry and resource management agencies globally, particularly in the Tropics.

Access the JCU Orpheus Island Field Station and award-winning laboratories. Participate in practical activities on the Great Barrier Reef’s coral reefs, coastal and oceanic environments. JCU graduates explore and deliver scientific, innovative solutions for the marine environment and its dependent communities.

Tropical Biology and Conservation

Integrate diverse disciplines such as zoology, ecology, botany, behaviour and evolution biology with a range of terrestrial and marine habitats. Students observe, explore and understand the diversity of the biological world.

Analyse the theoretical and applied ecological aspects of rainforests, the savannah, desert landscapes and tropical wildlife. Students benefit from the surrounding environments including savannahs, the World Heritage Daintree Rainforest, and coastal marine habitats.

View the handbook and for detailed subject information.

Complete an online application through our Online Application Portal.

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Master of Science

Handbook year


Course code


Course type

Masters Degree (Coursework) (AQF Level 9)


Division of Tropical Environments and Societies

Award Requirements

Admission Requirements

Course pre-requisites

Completion of an AQF level 7 bachelor degree in Science with a minimum GPA of 5 (65%) or equivalent.

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.

Post Admission requirements

Some majors require attendance in intensive mode subjects on either the Townsville or Cairns campus.  Students may be required to attend intensive mode classes at a campus other than that at which they are enrolled, at their own expense.

Academic Requirements for Course Completion

Credit points

36 credit points as per course structure

Course learning outcomes

On successful completion of the Master of Science, graduates will be able to:

  • Integrate and apply an advanced body of theoretical and technical knowledge, including an understanding of recent developments, in one or more science disciplines.
  • Retrieve, analyse, synthesise and evaluate complex information, concepts and theories from a range of sources.
  • Plan and conduct reliable, evidence-based laboratory and/or field experiments/practices by selecting and applying methods, techniques and tools, as appropriate to one or more science disciplines.
  • Organise, analyse and   interpret complex scientific data using advanced mathematical,   statistical and technological skills.
  • Communicate theoretical propositions, methodologies, scientific data, arguments and conclusions clearly and coherently to specialist and non-specialist audiences through advanced written and oral English language skills and a variety of media.
  • Identify, analyse and generate solutions   to unpredictable or complex problems, especially related to tropical, rural, remote or Indigenous contexts, by applying scientific knowledge and skills with initiative and expert judgement.
  • Critically review regulatory requirements, ethical principles and, where   appropriate, cultural frameworks, to work effectively, responsibly and safely in diverse contexts.
  • Reflect on current skills, knowledge and attitudes to manage their professional learning needs and performance, autonomously and in collaboration with others.
  • Apply knowledge of research principles, methods, techniques and tools to plan and execute a substantial research-based project, capstone experience and/or piece of scholarship.

Course Structure


Select a 36 credit point major (discipline) from Table A


Type of major

Mandatory, Single

Credit points in major

36 credit points




Aquaculture Science and Technology



Environmental Earth Science




Environmental Management 



Fisheries Science and Management






Marine Biology



Tropical Biology and Conservation







Not all majors available at Cairns




Expected time to complete

18 months full-time or equivalent part-time

Maximum time to complete

5 years

Maximum leave of absence

2 years


Course progression requisites


Course includes mandatory professional placement(s)


Special assessment requirements


Professional accreditation requirements


Maximum allowed Pass Conceded (PC) grade


Supplementary exam for final subject

Not applicable



Students may apply for credit transfer for previous tertiary study in accordance with the Credit Transfer Procedure.

Maximum allowed

12 credit points, unless part of an approved articulation process.


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


Credit gained for any subject shall be cancelled 15 years after the date of the examination upon which the credit is based if, by then, the student has not completed the course of study prescribed for the degree.

Other restrictions


Award Details

Award title


Approved abbreviations


Inclusion of majors on testamur

The major studied shall appear on the testamur.

Exit with lesser award

Students who exit the course prior to completion and have completed 24 credit points of appropriate subjects, may be eligible for the award of Graduate Diploma of Science.

Students who have completed 12 credit points of appropriate subjects may be eligible to receive the award of Graduate Certificate of Science.

Course articulation

Students who complete the requirements for the Master of Science are eligible for direct entry into the 48 credit point Master of Science (Professional) and may be granted credit for all subjects completed under this course.

Annual Tuition Fee: $9,527. (Estimate only)

Student Services and Amenities fee is payable per subject up to a maximum amount per year.

A variety of Scholarships are available to suit different student types.

Consult the admission requirements section in the Handbook for prerequisites and pathways into this course.

Credit may be available upon completion of the Graduate Certificate of Science or Graduate Diploma of Science. The Master of Science degree is a pathway for direct entry into the Master of Science (Professional).

Students can undertake a substantive research project, or professional project aligned to an industry or management partner within the JCU Master of Science (Professional). The Master of Science (Professional) is the pathway towards a JCU PhD.

Explore JCU Marine Science

Study with the best in the world for Marine and Freshwater Biology. Meet Professor of Marine Biology, Colin Simpfendorfer, and Master of Science student Lindsey Leathers from the US.