Master of Science in Tropical Biology and Conservation

Courses and Study Australian courses Master of Science in Tropical Biology and Conservation

Your studies make full use of the wide variety of natural tropical environments surrounding JCU. You can structure your course to specialise in the ecology of rainforests, savannah, tropical freshwater systems, tropical wildlife, or tropical insects.

Townsville, Cairns
Start dates
February, July
1.5 years full-time
Part time available
Study mode
On campus

Course highlights

James Cook University is a leading education and research centre for biology in the tropics.

  • Internationally-recognised undergraduate, postgraduate and research programs in biological sciences
  • dedicated research vessel, and research stations at Orpheus Island and Paluma
  • more tropical courses and subjects than any other institution in the world
  • teaching and research facilities including the Advanced Analytical Centre and the Aquaculture Research Facility.

Course overview

All aspects of theoretical and applied ecology are considered in these courses, making full use of the wide variety of natural tropical environments surrounding JCU including savannahs, rainforests, wetlands, and coastal marine habitats.

These tropical biology programs offer a wide range of electives. Students can structure their courses to specialise in the ecology of rainforests, savannah, tropical freshwater systems, tropical wildlife, or tropical insects.

How you will study

This course is available in Townsville. It is available part time (domestic students only) and full time.

For more information regarding this course, please contact Professor Lin Schwarzkopf.

How to apply

Complete an online application through our Online Application Portal.


MSc – Tropical Biology and Conservation Major

Major code


Credit points

36 credit point

Major Structure


BZ5001:03 Quantitative Methods in Science or MB5230:03 Design and Analysis in Ecological Studies

BZ5215:03 Conservation Biology

SC5055:03 Research and Communication Skills in the Natural Science


Select 3 credit points of specified level 5 science subjects from List 1

List 1

BZ5740:03 Wildlife Ecology and Management

BZ5220:03 Population and Community Ecology

BZ5225:03 Field Ecology

BZ5230:03 Ecological Research Methods

BZ5440:03 Ecology and Conservation


Select 6 credit points of specified level 5 science subjects from List 2

List 2

BZ5061:03 Behavioural Ecology

BZ5210:03 Ecology of Tropical Forest Ecosystems

BZ5220:03 Population and Community Ecology

BZ5225:03 Field Ecology

BZ5230:03 Ecological Research Methods

BZ5420:03 Ecological Genetics

BZ5440:03 Ecology and Conservation

BZ5450:03 Ecological and Conservation Genetics

BZ5480:03 Restoration Ecology

BZ5615:03 Plant Survival in a Land of Fire, Flood and Drought

BZ5620:03 Tropical Flora of Australia

BZ5725:03 Herpetology

BZ5740:03 Wildlife Ecology and Management

BZ5745:03 Tropical Entomology

BZ5755:03 Biodiversity and Climate Change: Impact, Mitigation and Adaptation

BZ5808:03 Adapting to Environmental Challenges

BZ5820:03 Evolutionary Biology

BZ5880:03 Ecology: Distribution, Abundance and Diversity

EV5110:03 Environmental and Social Impact Assessment

EV5020:03 Human Dimensions of Nature, Environment and Conservation

EV5505:03 Introduction to Geographical Information Systems

MB5230:03 Design and Analyses in Ecological Studies


Select 18 credit points of AQ, BC, BZ, EV, MI, MB or SC level 5 science subjects. This list includes research options.

Pathway into course

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

The Diploma of Higher Education is a one-year course (or two years, part-time) designed to help people who may not meet the academic requirements for entry into a Bachelor degree course. The course is also designed to help students develop the necessary skills to be successful university students.

The Diploma consists of a combination of introductory and first year degree subjects.  Successful completion of the Diploma will give you a recognised qualification in its own right.

Graduating with the Diploma will also allow you to enter many JCU Bachelor degree programs and may give you credit, for some of the subjects you successfully complete.

Please contact if you have any questions or call Anne Chatelain (07) 47815740 in Townsville or Gabi Newman (07) 4232 1155 in Cairns.


Master of Science

Course code


Course type

Masters Degree (Coursework) (AQF Level 9)


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, graduates will be able to:

  • Demonstrate an advanced level of scientific knowledge from with their chosen major

  • Critically analyse scientific theory, models, concepts and techniques from within their chosen major

  • Critically read and evaluate quantitative and qualitative research findings from within their chosen major

  • Apply analytic tools and methodologies to define and describe scientific problems from within their chosen major

  • Communicate effectively and persuasively, both orally and in writing.

Course Structure


Select a discipline area (major)


Type of major



Credit points in major

36 credit points




Aquaculture Science and Technology



Environmental Earth Science




Environmental Marine Science

Townsville (Suspended 2015-2017)


Fisheries Biology and Management



Marine Biology and Ecology



Natural Resource Management


Cairns (Suspended 2017)


Protected Area Management


Cairns (Suspended 2017)

Tropical Biology and Conservation







Not all majors available in 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

Advanced Standing


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.


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 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


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 the appropriate number of credit points, may, depending on the subjects studied, be eligible to receive the award of either the Graduate Certificate of Science or the Graduate Diploma 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.