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Coastal and marine science

The need to sustain Australia's marine environment is more important than ever as we face an uncertain future driven by climate change, increasing resource extraction and coastal development. A strong scientific understanding of the complexities of these sensitive ecosystems is developed alongside the skills to apply relevant practical and technological tools toward their sustainable management.

Coral reef

Curtin’s Bachelor of Science (Coastal and Marine Science major) reflects the growing need to protect Australia’s coastline, with an emphasis on marine biology, oceanographic sciences and resource management. In your first year you will complete an environment foundation year that provides an appropriate basis for studying the physical, chemical and biological conditions of various environments and their effects on organisms. This foundation year acts as a pathway to enrol in the major in Coastal and Marine Science in your second year.

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Why study Coastal and Marine Science?

  • Undertake extensive fieldwork including a final year 7 day project -based field trip to WA’s northwest
  • Network with researchers active in a wide range of marine science specialities including geomorphology, marine ecology, ecotoxicology and aquaculture.
  • Graduates from this major are sought in numerous industries and organisations due to their specialist science training, critical thinking skills and problem solving abilities.

Student experience

The Curtin Coastal and Marine Science course has been designed with industry input to deliver a learning experience focused on developing scientific and marine research skills. The course is delivered by staff actively researching a variety of fields including fish ecology, coral reef ecology, marine pollution, coastal geomorphology, sustainable fisheries and aquaculture. The result is a dynamic and engaging learning environment in which teaching is informed by current research. Our students are challenged to think as marine scientists, developing their initiative and intellectual curiosity to help understand and protect the marine environment.

Government and industry partnerships

You will interact with people working in marine and coastal science and management such as the Department of Environment and Conservation, the Department of Fisheries, the WA Environmental Protection Authority, marine science consultancies, the mining and petroleum industries, and Curtin’s Centre for Marine Science and Technology.

Career opportunities

Graduates will be equipped with skills aligned to the needs of a number of government agencies: Department of Fisheries; Department of Environment and Conservation; Office of the Environmental Protection Authority; Department of Transport and the Water Corporation. The course will also prepare students for employment as Environmental Officers in Regional Development Commissions and local governments, particularly those confronted with coastal management issues associated with meeting their development needs. Graduates will be suited to employment within the private sector, including companies involved with coastal and marine resource extraction, environmental consultancies, coastal tourism enterprises, and commercial and recreational fishing industries.

If you’d like to speak with somebody about studying Marine Science at Curtin, please contact us.

Undergraduate profile: Chynna Cahill

Chynna and Erin Pope snorkelling one of the many beautiful islands

Find out about Chynna Cahill’s time at the University of the South Pacific participating in the Colombo Short Term Mobility Program.

Video: My weekend passion has become my scientific career!


Curtin graduate Sam Payet has always loved the ocean: being in it, and getting close to the stunning diversity of life there.

Meet your lecturer!

Nicola Browne

I am a self-confessed coral lover and would quite happily chew my student’s ears off about why corals are amazing and how they are integral to a healthy coral reef ecosystem. When I’m not in water prodding and measuring corals, you can find me teaching about functional biology, ecological processes and data analysis. My teaching style focuses on engaging students in class discussion in order to develop critical thinking and problem solving skills. I also incorporate my own research into the class room environment by providing students with real data for analysis or by sharing my own experiences when it comes to designing and developing research projects.

— Nicola Browne

Coral Bay Field Trip

Whale shark

The one week trip to Coral Bay for third year students is the highlight of the Coastal and Marine Science degree. The students spend one month planning their research projects before embarking on five full days of data collection in the beautiful Bill’s Bay, located on the southern section of Ningaloo Reef. Students spend their time in the water learning how to lay transects for benthic data collection, observe fish for behavioural studies or collect samples for identification and analysis. These skills provide the foundation for future careers in research, environmental conservation or governmental monitoring agencies.