Explore Ningaloo reef

At Murdoch University, we’re proud to have earned an outstanding reputation for marine and environmental science. We were the first university in Australia to offer an undergraduate degree in Environmental Science and the first in Western Australia to offer Marine Science.

In this short intensive program, you’ll cover three main areas:

  • The diversity and physical processes of Western Australia’s marine habitats
  • A focus on coral reef environments and the biodiversity of reef organisms
  • Biological processes, with a focus on coral reef ecosystems

Is this program for me?

The course will suit you if you’re an undergraduate student and have already completed at least two classes of animal or plant biology, with a focus on ecology.

If you don’t have this background, you can still do this program. You can simply start in our February intake, complete the required two prerequisite classes (Marine Botany and Marine Ecology) and qualify to complete the Tropical Marine Biology program in June.

Visit Ningaloo Reef

As part of this course, you’ll visit the Ningaloo Marine Park. Located 1100km north of Perth, the marine park runs almost 300km along the coast of the Cape Range National Park:

Lying just north of the Tropic of Capricorn, the waters are warm for most of the year and the beaches, like most in WA, are white, undisturbed and beautifully clean.

Coral Bay lies midway along the Ningaloo Marine Park, with easy access to the reef, and close to the shore forming a natural lagoon.

You can snorkel, scuba dive or explore the reef by tour.

You’ll have the chance to explore more than 200 species of hard corals, 500 species of fish, 650 species of molluscs, plus turtles and manta rays.

The area is also a part of the migration route of the famous Whale Sharks.

Ningaloo is as spectacular as the Great Barrier Reef, but is much more accessible. The iconic status of Ningaloo Reef was recognised internationally when it was added to the World Heritage Register in 2011.

The program

This year, our program will run over June and July. Here are some important details to know.

Date23 June to 19 July 2023 (indicative dates)
Credit Value3 Murdoch Credit Points

These details are subject to change but you can expect:

  • A 10-day intensive field camp
  • 15 hours of theory classes (lectures and videos taught in blocks)
  • Two laboratory classes and computer workshops
  • One tutorial.

Theory classes (lectures and tutorials) will be presented at the Perth campus before the field camp. On our return to Perth, you will have time to complete field reports and presentations, and prepare for your final assessment.


The course is assessed by:

  • Tutorial participation (10%)
  • Theory examination (30%)
  • Group presentations (30%)
  • Final project reports (30%)
Cost2023 indicative cost A$7,665

The lecture series

You’ll start with a series of lectures and educational videos to get a physical and biogeographical background to WA coral reefs, an introduction to WA reef biodiversity and details of key biological and ecological processes of coral reefs.

On the field trip, you’ll work as part of a group on a choice of topics. You will need to complete two projects over a period of three days each. To expand your Ningaloo Reef experience, you’ll join a wildlife interaction cruise complete with snorkelling activities on the reef.

There’s also time to spend at your leisure, where you can enjoy a range of tourism activities in Coral Bay.

You will also attend non-assessed lectures on data analysis and the Ningaloo Marine Park and other special lectures. Your laboratory classes and tutorials will address aspects of reef ecology and processes, including a mixture of biodiversity and techniques-based exercises.

You will be assessed by a range of methods, including a theory exam at Murdoch University and tutorial participation, while your fieldwork will be assessed by a report and group presentations after the field camp.

What's included in the cost?

The cost includes:

  • Airport pick up
  • 15 nights accommodation at fully serviced apartment on campus at Murdoch University Student Village while in Perth
  • return Transfer to Coral Bay on an overnight bus coach
  • 10-day field trip to Coral Bay
  • accommodation during field camp
  • all food while away in Coral Bay
  • glass bottom boat tour while in Coral Bay
  • charter boat wildlife cruise
  • whale watching cruise (subject to conditions)
  • snorkelling trip and snorkelling equipment (if required).


Places are limited, with high demand!

The application deadline is 15 March 2023, with an acceptance deadline of 30 April 2023 to secure your place.

You’re able to study the Tropical Marine Biology short course as a solo Study Abroad experience.

If you want to combine the Tropical Marine Biology short course to your semester experience, simply add this unit to the unit selection form when applying for the Study Abroad and Exchange program.

Find out how to apply

Have a question? Talk to us

+61 8 9360 6063


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