University of Sydney Handbooks - 2020 Archive

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Marine Science

Study in the discipline of Marine Science is offered as an interdisciplinary major. Units of study in this major are available at standard and advanced level.

About the major

The Marine Science major draws together relevant material to create a multi-disciplinary curriculum that provides you with in-depth knowledge in a range of marine science disciplines. The major is explicitly science-based but seeks to provide you with a broader range of capabilities and an interdisciplinary mind-set to service the large and growing demand for coastal and marine experts in a range of fields. You will take both biological and geological marine science units of study but with flexibility to choose your level of exposure within either of those broad disciplines.

Requirements for completion

A major in Marine Science requires 48 credit points, consisting of:

(i) 12 credit points of 1000-level selective units
(ii) 12 credit points of 2000-level core units
(iii) 12 credit points of 3000-level core units
(iv) 6 credit points of 3000-level core interdisciplinary project units
(v) 6 credit points of 3000-level disciplinary selective or interdisciplinary projective units

A minor in Marine Science requires 36 credit points, consisting of:

(i) 12 credit points of 1000-level selective units
(ii) 12 credit points of 2000-level core units
(iii) 12 credit points of 3000-level core units

First year

In first year you will be need to complete 12 credit points from a selection of bio- or geo-sciences units: BIOL1XX6 Life and Evolution, BIOL1XX7 From Molecules to Ecosystems, GEOS1X01 Earth, Environment and Society, GEOS1X03 Introduction to Geology

As these units form the basis of your knowledge in second year, you are advised to complete at least one BIOL and one GEOS unit. If you can accommodate it in your schedule you could consider taking both units from your area of emphasis (GEOS or BIOL) as well as one unit from the other area.

Second year

Your second year units provide the knowledge base for your third year units. We have identified one unit from each of the discipline areas that are considered as fundamental and you must take each of these: GEOS2X15 Oceans, Coasts and Climate Change and BIOL2X22 Biology Experimental Design and Analysis

The geology unit introduces you to the physical processes shaping our oceans and coasts, presenting them within the context of climate change. The required biology unit will provide you with the basis in experimental design and analysis which is fundamental to scientific research in either discipline.

Third year

In your third year you are required to take MARS3888 Marine Science Interdisciplinary Project, GEOS3X09 Coastal Environments and Processes and BIOL3X13 Marine Biology.

As well as 6 credit points from a selection of: GEOS3X14 GIS in Coastal Management, BIOL3X08 Marine Field Ecology, BIOL3X16 Coral Reef Biology, AVBS3009 Aquaculture and SCPU3001 Science Interdisciplinary Project.

This structure ensures you are exposed to core concepts in marine science including coastal and environmental processes as well as marine biology. You also then have a wide variety of other relevant units from which to choose including field classes, GIS techniques, aquaculture and sedimentary geology.

In your third year you must take at least one designated project unit.

Fourth year

The fourth year is only offered within the Bachelor of Advanced Studies course.

Advanced coursework
The Bachelor of Advanced Studies advanced coursework option consists of 48 credit points, with a minimum of 24 credit points at 4000-level or above. Of these 24 credit points, you must complete a project unit of study worth at least 12 credit points.

Meritorious students may apply for admission to Honours within a subject area of the Bachelor of Advanced Studies. Admission to Honours requires the prior completion of all requirements of the Bachelor's degree, including Open Learning Environment (OLE) units. If you are considering applying for admission to Honours, ensure your degree planning takes into account the completion of a second major and all OLE requirements prior to Honours commencement.

Unit of study requirements for Honours in the area of Marine Science: completion of 36 credit points of project work and 12 credit points of coursework.

Contact and further information

T +61 2 9036 9245


The University of Sydney Marine Studies Institute
Room 308, Madsen Building F09
University of Sydney NSW 2006

School of Life and Environmental Sciences
Level 5, Carslaw Building F07
University of Sydney NSW 2006

School of Geosciences
Room 348, Madsen Building F09
The University of Sydney NSW 2006

Undergraduate advisors:

A/Prof Will Figueira (SOLES)
T +61 2 9351 2039

A/Prof Ana Vila-Concejo (GEOS)
T +61 2 9351 5190

Learning Outcomes

Students who graduate from Marine Science will be able to:

  1. Exhibit a broad and coherent body of knowledge of marine processes and habitats, including their importance in sustaining biodiversity and life on the planet.
  2. Exhibit a deep understanding of the principles, concepts and methods of marine science and assess the role of inquiry in furthering knowledge within the discipline.
  3. Recognise the multidisciplinarity of marine science and the complex interlinkages between bio- and geosciences in understanding biophysical processes.
  4. Evaluate the geological and biophysical processes that shape and influence marine and coastal environments.
  5. Collect, analyse and visualise data using state-of-the-art technology such as big data, numerical modelling and geographic information systems.
  6. Source, synthesise and critically evaluate marine and coastal information, data and observations from a range of relevant sources.
  7. Communicate concepts and analyses in marine science to diverse audiences from a range of backgrounds through a variety of modes, using evidence-based arguments that are robust to critique.
  8. Work effectively, responsibly and ethically in individual and peer or team contexts and be independent, self-directed learners.
  9. Design and carry out field, laboratory, or virtual experiments, selecting appropriate hypothesis testing or modelling techniques, and interpret, analyse and evaluate outcomes.
  10. Address real-world problems in marine science, working professionally and responsibly within collaborative, interdisciplinary teams.
  11. Recognise the social and cultural context within which marine and coastal environments exist and describe how these contexts can influence scientific and management practice.