Short courses

We offer two short courses, both of which offer unique, once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to explore some of the most spectacular places in Western Australia while you learn.

Tropical Marine Biology

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.

Date29 June to 20 July 2020
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%)
Cost2020 cost AUD$6,480

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)

Apply for Tropical Marine Biology

Add the Tropical Marine Biology short course to the unit selection form when applying for the Study Abroad and Exchange program.

Find out how to apply

Storytelling in Australia

Australians have been telling stories for thousands of years, from the Dreamtime stories of the creation of the Indigenous world to digitally produced contemporary narratives.

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 diverse disciplines. These include forms of fiction and non-fiction writing, photography, cinema, and other digital media.

In this course you will be immersed – imaginatively, culturally and geographically – in Australia, and you’ll be challenged creatively to develop your voice as a storyteller.

Storytelling in Australia offers international students and domestic and international onshore students the opportunity to learn about these stories and storytellers, and to travel deep into the Western Australian outback to learn how landscape has always inspired them.

Create your own story

The course covers the traditions of Australian storytelling, including Indigenous stories (past and present), Australian literature and cinema, and critical contemporary issues in Australia.

You will be encouraged to develop your own narrative style and to choose an appropriate genre and form to work in. If you are technically proficient in a particular field (for example, in screen production, audio production, or photography), you may wish to create a story in one of those modes. But you don’t need to be a production specialist to undertake the course. If you can write and represent your experiences, thoughts and feelings, you are telling stories.

The course involves on-campus workshops and a 10-day regional tour of north-west Western Australia, with its UNESCO-listed natural coastal wonders and its rugged interior. Along the way you’ll be encouraged to reflect on the places, the experiences and the people you encounter.

The 10-day tour

The Pilbara, the region where you’ll be spending some time, is rugged, hot and dusty, yet will mesmerise you with its beauty and splendour. The mountainous outcrops are the oldest on earth, impressive in their majesty. The Pilbara also has some of the most hardy fauna and flora, and you may come across a shy rock wallaby, the perentie lizard, the grey and the red kangaroo, and other animals unique to Australia.

Undoubtedly, the highlight of the tour is Karijini National Park. Hidden among Western Australia’s mining towns, this area is pristine. The gorges, sparkling freshwater pools, and awe-inspiring landscape will simply take your breath away.

The program

Date22 June to 10 July 2020
Credit value3 Murdoch Credit Points

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

  • preparatory online reading
  • 15 hours of classroom workshop on campus
  • 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:

  • critical analysis (20%)
  • creative project (40%)
  • presentation (20%)
  • participation and journal keeping (20%).

Study abroad students: AUD$4,500
International students: unit tuition fee, plus up-front cost AUD$1,185
Domestic students: unit tuition fee (HECS-based) plus up-front cost AUD$1,185.

What's included in the cost?

The cost includes:

  • tuition
  • airport pickup (for study abroad students only)
  • fully serviced apartment on campus at Murdoch University Student Village while in Perth and some food (for study abroad students only)
  • 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).

Apply for Storytelling in Australia

Study abroad students

Add the Storytelling Australia short course to the unit selection form when applying for the Study Abroad and Exchange program.

Find out how to apply

Domestic and international students

Contact Anne Surma, English and Creative Arts program on