Master of Science (Professional)

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Master of Science (Professional)

Take your undergraduate degree in science further and work in leadership roles within public or private organisations. With the advanced knowledge gained throughout this professional master’s program, you will be equipped to address many of the world’s current environmental issues.

Get practical experience in world heritage listed reef and rainforest environments. You will learn from lecturers who are experts in their field and will challenge you to develop your problem solving skills.

Choose to specialise in one of seven majors; Aquaculture Science and Technology, Environmental Earth Science, Environmental Management, Fisheries Science and Management, Geology, Marine Biology or Tropical Biology and Conservation.

Townsville; Cairns
Start dates
February, July
2 years full-time
Study mode
On campus
AQF Level 7 bachelor degree in science with minimum GPA of 5; or equivalent

Career opportunities

Have the opportunity to work as a science professional nationally and internationally with this postgraduate science course.

Advance your career in the public or private sector with organisations concerned with the management and use of environmental resources.

You could work in non-government organisations specialising in international aid and development, or focus on addressing environmental planning and educational issues.

Alternatively, get a job working in environmental consulting firms or become a science communication expert.

Course highlights

Diversify your knowledge studying the unique environments of North Queensland such as coral reefs, seagrass beds, mangroves, dry savannahs and tropical rainforests.

Receive advanced research training that you can apply to an industry-based project. You can also choose to conduct an independent research project, which could lead into future, post doctorate studies.

Enhance your studies with access to world-renowned research facilities such as:

Course overview

Learn how to apply the advanced analytical skills necessary for leadership positions within the industry.

You will have the chance to study subjects from outside of your chosen discipline, or further your knowledge of your chosen field.

Apply your advanced skills gained throughout the degree to your minor research projects, professional placement, or choose to conduct a major research project.

If you choose to select a major in the same field of study as your undergraduate Bachelor of Science degree, you may be eligible to receive up to six months advanced standing. This means that you could complete this master’s degree in 1.5 years.


Students choose from seven majors and can select elective subjects within the same major, or from another discipline to enhance their learning.

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.

How to apply

Take note of the duration, cost and campus availability of your selected course. You may wish to include a second course preference.

  1. Register using your full legal name as it appears on your passport.
  2. Gather electronic copies of your documentation including advanced standing application if relevant. You will need to provide original certified copies of your documents once your application has been approved.
  3. Complete all the questions and upload all your documents. You can save and continue the application later if you need to.
  4. Submit your application.
Apply now

Pathway into 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.


Master of Science (Professional)

Handbook year


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 with a minimum GPA of 5 (65%) or equivalent.

Entry requirements for this course are consistent with the Pathways to Qualifications in the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF level 9) Guidelines for Masters degrees.

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

48 credit points as per course structure

Course learning outcomes

On successful completion of the Master of Science (Professional), 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.
  • Critically reflect on current skills, knowledge and attitudes to manage professional learning needs and performance, autonomously and in collaboration with others within a professional workplace environment.
  • 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 within a professional workplace environment.

Course Structure


Select a major from Table A


Select  Option 1, 2 or 3

Option 1 – Research Stream

SC5912:06 Minor Project, Seminar and Literature Review (1 of 2)

SC5913:06 Minor Project, Seminar and Literature Review (2 of 2)


Option 2 – Professional Project Stream

SC5009:12 Professional Project


Option 3 – Research and Professional Project Stream

Select 12 credit points of subjects from:

SC5007:06 Professional Project

SC5008:03 Professional Placement

SC5900:06 Special Topic

SC5901:03 Special Topic 1

SC5902:03 Special Topic 2


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

2 years full-time or 4 years part-time

Maximum time to complete

6 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

A student who has failed the final subject towards the award and who gained 40% or more of the marks for that subject, may be granted a supplementary examination in that subject.

Advanced Standing


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

Advanced Standing will only be granted for subjects aligned to the current course’s learning outcomes and if the applicant demonstrates sufficient prior knowledge and skills to achieve the course learning outcomes in the time available in the course.

Up to 12 credit points may be granted for an AQF Level 7 qualification in a Cognate* Science discipline as determined by the College of Science and Engineering.

Up to 24 credit points may be granted for an AQF Level 8 qualification in a Cognate* Science discipline as determined by the College of Science and Engineering.

*Cognate discipline: Applicants must have degree qualifications for a discipline that is closely aligned or related with the major being undertaken.

Maximum allowed

24 credit points

Where a student transfers from one JCU award to another, then advanced standing may be granted for more than two-thirds of the new award, where there is subject equivalence between the awards.


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


Advanced standing gained for any subject shall be cancelled 16 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

Studies and/or professional experiences undertaken to fulfil the entry requirements to JCU awards may not be used for advanced standing

Award Details

Award title


Approved abbreviation

MSc (Prof)

Inclusion of majors on

Majors will appear on the testamur

Exit with lesser award

Students who exit the course prior to completion, and have successfully completed 36 credit points of appropriate subjects, may be eligible for the award of Master of Science.

Students who exit the course prior to completion, and have successfully 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 exit with the Graduate Certificate of Science.

Course articulation

Not applicable

Special Awards

Not applicable

Application deadlines

Applications must be submitted by:

  • 31 January for commencement in teaching period 1 (semester 1)
  • 30 June for commencement in teaching period 2 (semester 2)

Entry requirements

Completion of a recognised, appropriate undergraduate degree, or equivalent prior learning including appropriate professional experience.

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

If you meet the academic requirements for a course, but not the minimum English requirements, you will be issued a JCU degree offer conditional upon achieving the required scores in an approved English test. You can undertake an English program at JCU to improve your skills prior to sitting your English test. If you are interested in doing this please contact

Fees and costs

Annual Tuition Fee: AUD$37,600 (Estimate only.)

For more information, refer to the relevant course fee information in the 2019 International Postgraduate Guide (PDF, 8038 KB)

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

Student Visa holders must have Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) for the duration of their Student Visa (except Norwegian and Belgian citizens). Costs depend on the length of study and the number of dependants accompanying the student. For more information see Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC).

Help with your application

If you need help with your application, or would like to change your preferences (e.g. course, campus, commencing semester) after you have submitted your application please contact JCU International Admissions:

Phone +61 7 4781 5601

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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.