Summer Program – Tropical Marine Biology program

Murdoch University has an outstanding reputation for Marine and Environmental Science. We were the first university in Australia to offer Environmental Science.

This summer program will cover three main areas:

  • The diversity and physical processes of WA marine habitats
  • A focus on coral reef environments; the biodiversity of reef organisms
  • Biological processes, with a focus on coral reefs ecosystems.

Who the program is suitable for:

The course will suit undergraduate students who have at least two classes of general biology background.

The field based experience

Ningaloo Marine Park, which includes Coral Bay  is located 1100km north of Perth.

Coral Bay’s great appeal is its access to the 280km Ningaloo Reef which lies close to the shore and forms a natural lagoon it is ideal for people wishing to fish, snorkel, scuba dive or explore the reef.

Lying just north of the Tropic of Capricorn, the waters are warm for most of the year and the beaches, like most of the beaches on the Western Australian coast, are white, undisturbed and beautifully clean.

Coral Bay lies midway along the Ningaloo Marine Park which runs along the coast from Red Bluff (100km to the south) to Bundegi on North West Cape just north of Exmouth. It includes all the coastline of the Cape Range National Park.

The Marine Park was declared in 1987 and expanded in 2005, to protect Western Australia's largest coral reef and to control public access to it.  The iconic status of Ningaloo Reef recognised internationally when it was added to the World Heritage Register in 2011. It is a unique area because the reef is so close to the shore and because it is here that the Australian continent is closest to the continental shelf. The dryness of the region means that there is little runoff and so the waters around the reef are crystal clear.

The reef boasts over 200 species of hard corals, 500 species of fish and 650 species of molluscs. In its own way it is as good as the Great Barrier Reef and it is much more accessible.

The course program

Tuition 2013: $AU 7,000 includes accommodation and field trips.
Date: middle of June to early July (2.5 weeks)


14 hours of theory classes (lectures and videos taught in blocks).,

  •  Two laboratory classes and computer workshops;
  •  One tutorial;
  • 10-day intensive field camp.


  • Tutorial participation (10%)
  • Theory examination (30%)
  • Group presentations (30%)
  •  Final project reports (30%)

What’s involved:

  • A 10-day field trip to Coral Bay, one of the most pristine marine parks in the world.
  • Lectures will be presented both at Murdoch campus and during the field camp.
  • A few days will be allocated on our return to Perth for tutorials, to complete write-ups and presentations, and for assessment.

The lecture series

A series of lectures supplemented with educational videos will provide a physical and biogeographical background to WA coral reefs, a run through of WA reef biodiversity and details of key biological and ecological processes of coral reefs.

Additional non-assessed lectures on data analysis and the Ningaloo Marine Park and other special lectures will also be presented.

Laboratory classes and tutorials will address aspects of reef ecology and processes, including a mixture of biodiversity and techniques-based exercises.

The field trip will principally consist of project work, with students working in groups on a choice of topics; students will be expected to undertake two projects for a period of three days each.

Assessment will include a theory exam at Murdoch University and tutorial participation, while the fieldwork will be assessed by a report and group presentation after the field camp.

Your steps to apply:

  • Complete the Study Abroad application form
  • Submit your academic results from your home institution
  •  Send them together to Murdoch International