Master of Science, majoring in Marine Biology and Ecology

Courses and Study Australian courses Master of Science, majoring in Marine Biology and Ecology

James Cook University (JCU) is the premier research and education institution for Marine Biology in the Tropics. Our program is taught by leading experts in coral reef science, marine conservation, tropical fisheries science, reef and estuarine ecology, and marine and coastal resource management.

Studying at JCU will enable you to develop your professional skills to address the critical challenges facing marine and coastal ecosystems. Our Marine Biology courses are designed around field experiences, including studying on location in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area, and are informed by our world leading research findings.

Campus
Townsville
Duration
1.5 years full-time
Part time available
Study mode
On campus

Career opportunities

This course is ideal for students wanting to develop careers as research scientists, educators, environmental managers, consultants, biologists, ecologists, conservation agents, science communicators, or as field and laboratory technicians with a marine emphasis.

Our graduates are sought after by a broad range of employers, nationally and internationally, including high profile environmental management and consultant agencies, government departments, scientific research institutes, commercial ventures, education, tourism and media groups.

JCU's Master of Science in Marine Biology graduates may find jobs in the following areas:

  • Scientific research institutes
  • Regional and national government bodies
  • Non-government and/or not for profit organisations locally, regionally and internationally.
  • Environmental consultancies
  • Fisheries and environmental management
  • Education organisations, ranging from tertiary institutes to community based organisations.
  • Commercial industry and resource developers
  • Environmental advocacy groups
  • Local, regional and international business and tourism operators.

The Asia-Pacific region is experiencing unprecedented economic and population growth. The demands on marine and coastal resources are similarly enormous. Equip yourself as a premier marine biologist, manager or scientist capable of addressing the grand challenges of the tropical world and beyond.

Course highlights

JCU is the leading education and research institution for Marine Biology in the Tropics. Our unique location enables students from Australia and overseas to study in a diverse physical environment unparalleled by any university in the world.

The postgraduate degree program in Marine Biology is internationally recognised. We focus on developing career professionals who can address the grand challenges for marine and coastal ecosystems, particularly in the tropical Asia-Pacific region. You will be researching and tackling issues such as:

  • Climate change, ecosystem resilience and adaptation
  • Ecosystem restoration
  • Environmental and ecological sustainability
  • Biodiversity and conservation challenges for marine organisms and ecosystems
  • Sustainable marine resource management
  • Global and regional food security
  • Sustainable livelihoods for coastal and island based societies.

Our course integrates the latest research from our prestigious research groups in the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Science, the Centre for Tropical Water and Aquatic Ecosystem Research (TropWATER), and the Centre for Sustainable Tropical Fisheries and Aquaculture. Our students make the most of their opportunities to actively engage with our research programs and our global research leaders. Many of our graduates go on to develop their skills and become leading researchers in organisations around the world.

Here in tropical northern Australia we work in collaboration the world’s premier practitioners in marine research, reef, coastal and island management, Indigenous and traditional resource management, commercial and recreational fisheries, eco-tourism operations, marine educators, and coastal resource development industries. Throughout your degree you will be directly engaging with these partners to learn and apply skills relevant to the ‘real world’ and develop your own professional networks.

Course overview

The course enables graduates to develop their knowledge and skills in quantitative marine ecology, conservation biology, and the biology, life history and taxonomy of tropical marine organisms. You will study tropical marine systems with emphasis on coral reefs and surrounding waters, seagrass, mangrove assemblages and the adjacent sandy and rocky shores. There is an emphasis on whole organism biology, the ecology and biogeography of tropical marine organisms, and the evolutionary mechanisms that underlie their diversity.

In this degree you will acquire the following core knowledge and skills:

  • Understanding of marine biology with a focus on tropical ecosystems and organisms
  • Quantitative analytical skills, including data management, quantitative statistics, ecological modelling and sampling design.
  • Practical laboratory and field skills for doing innovative research and biodiversity assessments in marine and coastal ecosystems.
  • Understanding and experience in best-practice marine conservation and management applications
  • Research innovation and project management
  • Interdisciplinary communication skills, with specialisations in scientific communication.

Our proximity to the Great Barrier Reef, and our location in the Asia-Pacific region provides students with unparalleled opportunities for investigating ecological and evolutionary questions for reef fish, corals, and other marine organisms. Our students regularly utilise these research facilities and locations during their studies:

This major is currently only offered in Townsville.

The course architecture is comprised of both intensive and semester-long subjects. Advanced research skills are embedded in all our subjects, and we include options for independent research projects and/or vocational placements with our research, management and industry partners.

For more information regarding this course, contact Dr Naomi Gardiner.

How to apply

Complete an online application through our Online Application Portal.

Subjects

MSc – Marine Biology Major

Major code

MSC-MBY

Credit point value

48 credit points

Other details

Available part-time

Major Structure

CORE SUBJECTS

MB5300:03 Sampling and Experimental Design or SC5502:03 Design and Analyses in Ecological Studies

PLUS

Select 12 credit points of subjects from List 1

List 1

Knowledge

MB5004:03 Marine Conservation Biology

MB5055:03 Biological Oceanography

MB5070:03 Marine Evolution and Biogeography

MB5160:03 Evolution and Ecology of Reef Fishes

MB5190:03 Coral Reef Ecology

MB5270:03 Coastal, Estuarine and Mangrove Ecosystems

MB5400:03 Life History and Evolution of Reef Corals

PLUS

Select 9 credit points of subjects from List 2

List 2

Skills

AQ5004:03 Aquaculture: Stock Improvement

AQ5012:06 Aquaculture: Hatchery Techniques

BC5203:03 Introduction to Bioinformatics

BS5260:03 Modelling Ecological Dynamics

BS5470:03 Evolution

BZ5001:03 Quantitative Methods in Science

BZ5450:03 Ecological and Conservation Genetics

BZ5990:03 Toolkit for the Field Biologist

EA5018:03 Field Studies in Tropical Water and Soil Science

EV5502:03 Advanced Geographic Information Systems

EV5505:03 Introduction to Geographic Information Systems

EV5506:03 Remote Sensing

MA5405:03 Data Mining

MB5450:03 Molecular Approaches to Marine Ecology and Evolution

SC5232:03 Marine Sensor Technologies and Applications

SC5502:03 Design and Analyses in Ecological Studies

PLUS

Select 24 credit points of subjects from Lists 1, 2 and/or 3

Note: Subjects have been grouped by themes for guidance only

List 3

Extensions

MB5380:03 Invertebrate Biology

MB5001:03 Tropical Marine Ecology & Coastal Impacts

EV5203:03 Conserving Marine Wildlife: Sea Mammals, Birds and Reptiles

AQ5007:03 Aquatic Animal Ecophysiology

EV5406:03 Coral Reef Geomorphology

MI5003:03 Advanced Marine Microbiology

CH5041:03 Environmental Chemistry

BC5101:03 Advanced Genes, Genomes and Development

BS5460:03 Fundamentals of Ecology

Applications

MB5003:03 Fisheries Science

MB5310:03 Marine Reserves as Fisheries Management Tools

EV5014:03 Managing Tropical Fisheries

AQ5015:03 Sustainable Aquaculture

AQ5006:03 Aquaculture:  Principles and Practices

EV5701:03 Managing Coastal & Marine Environments

EV5020:03 Human Dimensions of Nature, Environment & Conservation

EV5110:03 Environmental and Social Impact Assessment

EV5401:03 Coastal and Catchment Geomorphology

EV5209:03 Principles and Practices of Protected Area Management

Research and Placement

SC5901:03 Special Topic 1

SC5902:03 Special Topic 2

SC5912:06 Minor Project, Literature Review and Seminar (Part A)

SC5913:06 Minor Project, Literature Review and Seminar (Part B)

SC5008:03 Professional Placement

SC5009:12 Professional Placement

Other choices: Students wishing to study a Level 5 subject not included in the options lists should consult with their course adviser.

Pathway into course

For prerequisites and pathways into this course visit the admission requirements section in the Handbook

Handbook

Master of Science

Course code

106904

Course type

Masters Degree (Coursework) (AQF Level 9)

Division

Tropical Environments and Societies

Award Requirements

Admission Requirements

Course pre-requisites

Completion of an AQF level 7 bachelor degree in science; 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 at block mode subjects on either the Townsville or Cairns campus.  Students may be required to attend block 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 theirprofessional 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

OPTIONS

Select a discipline area (major) from Table A

TABLE A (MAJORS)

Type of major

Mandatory, Single

Credit points in major

36 credit points

MAJOR

AVAILABLE AT

NOTES

Aquaculture Science and Technology

Townsville

 

Environmental Earth Science

Cairns

Townsville

 

Fisheries Science and Management

Townsville

 

Marine Biology

Townsville

 

Natural Resource Management

Cairns (Suspended 2017-2018)

Townsville

 

Protected Area Management

Cairns (Suspended 2017-2018)

Townsville

 

Tropical Biology and Conservation

Cairns

Townsville

Campus

COURSE AVAILABLE AT

NOTES

Cairns

Not all majors available at Cairns

Townsville

 

Candidature

Expected time to complete

18 months full-time or equivalent part-time

Maximum time to complete

5 years

Maximum leave of absence

2 years

Progression

Course progression requisites

Nil

Course includes mandatory professional placement(s)

No

Special assessment requirements

Nil

Professional accreditation requirements

Nil

Maximum allowed Pass Conceded (PC) grade

Nil

Supplementary exam for final subject

Not applicable

Advanced Standing

Eligibility

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

Maximum allowed

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

Currency

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

Expiry

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

Other restrictions

Nil

Award Details

Award title

MASTER OF SCIENCE

Approved abbreviations

MSc

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

Not applicable

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.