Short courses

If you enrol in this short intensive course, you’ll have the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to visit the World Heritage listed Ningaloo Reef and study a living coral reef ecosystem.

Tropical Marine Biology Short Course

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 general biology as background.

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.

Date: 25 June 2018 to 17 July 2018.
Credit Value:3 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%)

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:

  • 10-day field trip to Coral Bay
  • Fully serviced apartment on campus at Murdoch University Student Village while in Perth
  • Accommodation during field camp
  • All food while away in Coral Bay
  • Airport pickup
  • 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)

Tropical Marine Biology brochure 2017

Story Telling in Australia Short Course

Australians have been telling stories for thousands of years, from the Dreamtime stories of the creation of the indigenous world to today’s communication using mobile digital technology.

These are stories of the land, of nature, of the city and the country, of experiences and ideas, of people and events - great and small.

To understand this place and its people, writers and artists have told stories, using traditions and techniques from a wide range of disciplines. These include forms of fictional and non-fiction writing, photography, cinema and various forms of digital media.

In this course you will travel and experience Australia and add your voice as a storyteller.

Create your own story

The course covers the traditions of Australian storytelling, including Indigenous stories (past and present); Australian literature and cinema; the classic themes that have excited and challenged artists and writers over generations; critical contemporary issues in Australia.

Students will be encouraged to develop their own narrative style and choose an appropriate genre and format to express it. Students who are technically proficient in a particular field (for example screen production, audio production or photography) may wish to create a story in that genre. But you don’t need to be a production specialist to undertake the course. If you can write and upload your experiences and thoughts and feelings, you are telling stories.

The course involves classroom workshops and a 10-day regional tour of north-west Australia with its UNESCO-listed natural coastal wonders and its rugged interior. Along the way students will be required to consider the places, the experiences and the people they encounter.

The 10-day tour

The region, called the Pilbara is rugged, hot and dusty, yet will mesmerise you with its beauty and splendour. The mountainous outcrops are the oldest on earth and they will impress you with their majesty. The Pilbara also has some of the most hardy fauna and flora and you may come across a shy rock wallaby, the perenti lizard, the grey and the red kangaroo and many other unique animals.

Monkey Mia in Shark Bay is one of the highlights of the field trip, Monkey Mia is World Heritage-listed and is one of only 12 places in the world to have satisfied all that is required for the honour. Here you will see dolphins swimming dolphins close to shore.

Undoubtedly, the highlight of the tour where you will draw inspiration from is Karijini National Park. Hidden amongst Western Australia’s mining towns, this area is untouched and pristine in beauty. So remote, you will truly feel in the middle of nowhere and at the same time feel like staying forever. The gorges, sparkling freshwater pools and landscape will simply take your breath away and have to be seen to be believed.

The program

Date:25 June 2018 to 13 July 2018.
Credit value:3 Murdoch Credit Points

These details are subject to change, but you can expect:

  • Preparatory online reading
  • 15 hours of classroom workshop on campus
  • A 10-day intensive field camp to regional north-west of Australia
  • Original, independent research
  • Creation of your own narrative work

This course is assessed by:

  • Written critique of readings (20%)
  • Story Project (40%)
  • Presentations (40%)

What's included in the cost?

The cost includes:

  • Tuition
  • Airport pickup
  • Fully serviced apartment on campus at Murdoch University Student Village while in Perth and some food
  • 10-day study tour of the North-West region of Western Australia
  • Accommodation and food during study tour
  • Use of media production facilities (where appropriate)

How to apply

Simply add the Tropical Marine Biology or StoryTelling Australia short courses to the unit selection form when applying for the Study Abroad and Exchange program.

Find out how to apply