Within our region, world heritage rainforests, subtropical forests, and stunning coastal and marine ecosystems provide living laboratories for field studies. On campus, our students have access to fully equipped laboratories with advanced analytical equipment.
The Faculty of Science and Engineering places a strong focus on preparing our undergraduate students for employment after graduation. This preparation includes students undertaking fieldwork as part of their studies. Fieldwork provides hands-on environmental practice, interactive learning experiences, and the application of classroom knowledge and skills.
Fieldwork is a component of many of the units taught in our courses. Depending on the course and units undertaken, students participate in field trips in a variety of settings including:
- Accessing rivers, lakes and estuaries to study water quality and wildlife
- Exploring coastal formations to study rock pools and marine life
- Going out on boats to observe whales and dolphins
- Visiting native forests and plantations to hone land-management skills.
There are up to 40 excursions organised by the School throughout the year, from day trips to field camps of up to 10 days. All fieldwork activity involves comprehensive instruction on occupational health and safety responsibilities, and once in the field students are supervised by our staff who not only have expert knowledge of the unit content, but up-to-date training in first aid.
Environmental Science Field Trip
Richmond Range National Park
Associate Professor Ross Goldingay, Faculty of Science and Engineering: I take students on a very unique field camp where we camp out in tents and we stay in a national park that contains world-heritage listed rainforest. It’s a site where a variety of different species are in reasonable abundance, and it’s also a site where ascetically it has fantastic views of the surrounding landscape. Coming into an environment like this and being able to show the students, and show what that site contains is very rewarding.
Katie Clover, exchange student, Trent University, Canada: Today we woke up nice and early and we went to go check traps that we actually set out last night. There was a transect, pretty long one, probably over 200 meters with 25 traps, so about 10 metres apart on them. We went and collected the traps and put the animals out that we did catch, and we caught about 4 different mammals, and then we process them, weighed them, clipped their fur.
Eliza Belle Matthews, Bachelor of Marine Science and Management: It gives me an insight into wildlife conservation as a whole. Working with smaller animals gives [you] a stepping stone into something a little bit larger.
Jay Fowler, Bachelor of Forest Science and Management: We have a lot of PhD students and Ross and a couple of other staff members and they are all really inspired about nature and various animal species. It’s been great.
Katie Clover: I’ve been offered four different practicals, whereas at my home university back in Ontario we’ve maybe gone out on the field twice, whereas here I’ve come in and pretty much all my courses have a practical component. There is a lot of hands-on work that I wouldn’t normally get. Like actually handling the mammals – we are encouraged to go and grab this rat or this mouse, whereas previously there has been an instructor who really just show you how to do it, but here at SCU they really want you to get hands-on, get in the field and learning yourself, so it’s been really great.
Eliza Belle Matthews: If we didn’t do this then I probably wouldn’t have any idea about animal ethics or animal handling, protecting, that sort of stuff if I didn’t come on this trip, so that’s a massive benefit.
Jay Fowler: The future is going to be all about conserving our biodiversity and our forests.