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Environmental Biology

The need to restore and sustain Australia's natural environment is more important than ever as we face an uncertain future driven by land degradation, climate change, increasing resource extraction and increasing numbers of threatened species. A strong scientific understanding of the complexities of natural ecosystems is developed alongside the skills to apply relevant practical and technological tools toward conservation, restoration, and environmental management.


Environmental biology students

Curtin’s Bachelor of Science (Environmental Biology) reflects the ongoing need to protect and manage Australia’s natural environment. In your first year you will complete core foundation units that provides an appropriate basis for studying the physical, chemical and biological conditions of various environments and their effects on organisms. This foundation year leads into a 2nd year that develops your understanding of the diversity, evolution and ecology of plants and animals. The course culminates with a 3rd year applying your skills to environmental management (conservation, restoration, environmental impact assessment) and research (Walpole field project unit).

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Why study Environmental Biology?

  • Undertake extensive fieldwork skills including a final year 5 day project-based field trip to WA’s southwest;
  • Network with researchers active in a wide range of environmental specialities including ecology, physiology, animal behaviour, and restoration;
  • Graduates from this major are sought in numerous industries and organisations due to their specialist science training, critical thinking skills and problem solving abilities;

You can make a difference to the future the natural environment.

Student experience

In your second and third year, you will study the complexity of natural environments, why they are vital to our existence, and how they might be protected through hands on practical experiences, relative global and local examples, and a sound theoretical understanding. Third year students travel to Walpole for a five day field trip during which time they undertake an independent study project. Other disciplines studied throughout the degree include climate change, behaviour, physiology, genetics, ecotoxicology, zoology, plant diversity, conservation biology, advanced marine science and technology, experimental design and analysis, habitat mapping, ecology, restoration, and environmental impact assessment. There is also opportunities to undertake work experience, engage with your peers in the Curtin Environment and Agriculture Club, and use elective units to build complimentary skills.

Government and industry partnerships

You will interact with people working in environmental management such as the Department of Environment and Conservation, Botanic Gardens and Parks Authority, the WA Environmental Protection Authority, Perth Zoo, WaterCorp, the mining industry, and Curtin’s Sustainability Policy Institute.

Career opportunities

Graduates will be equipped with skills aligned to the needs of a number of government agencies: 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. Graduates will be suited to employment within the private sector, including companies involved with resource extraction and post-extraction restoration, environmental consultancies, eco-tourism enterprises, and environmental restoration.

If you’d like to speak with somebody about studying Environmental Biology at Curtin please contact us.

Undergraduate Profile: Ashleigh Wolfe

Snake

As a child I was very fond of animals and the environment. I spent most of my life in the less developed Perth suburbs, where natural vegetation was everywhere and I could hear the frogs every night. In high school I was a part of the agricultural program, and I loved every moment of it. Naturally, I have always been inquisitive of the environment.

After high school I decided to study environmental biology at Curtin as the course offered a look at the environment from every angle, including plants, animals, ecology, and sustainability. The range of different disciplines all fell together neatly and helped me gain an in-depth understanding of the environment as a whole. This was particularly useful when working on case studies for rehabilitation and my two research projects. I also had opportunities to go on field trips around Perth, the wheatbelt, and the rural south-east of WA. My lecturers were my role models who inspired me to keep studying. I have completed my degree and am starting a PhD looking at the ecology of Perth’s snakes. I hope to become a world expert in this area and continue working with my diverse set of skills.

Meet your lecturer!

Lecturer

An ecologist by training, I have dabbled in projects looking at our impact on the natural environment.  I can happily debate with my students the pitfalls of our current management of the environment and the challenges that lay ahead. When not out enjoying the fascinating natural environment we are surrounded by in Western Australia you can find me teaching ecology, conservation, sustainability and restoration.

Teaching is the focus of my activities and I strive to challenge and engage students in both classroom and practical activities in order to develop critical thinking, problem solving, and communication skills essential for their lifelong learning journey.

— Richard Harris

Walpole Field Trip

Walpole trip

The one week trip to Walpole for third year students is the highlight of the Environmental Biology degree. The students spend one month planning their research projects before embarking on five full days of data collection at Walpole, in the midst the south west biodiversity hotspot. Students spend their time in the field learning how to observe or monitor species, populations, or communities. Samples are collected for identification and analysis to address specific research questions. These skills provide the foundation for future careers in research, environmental conservation or governmental monitoring agencies.