Study Marine Science

Marine Science graduate and manager of Australia Seabird rescue, Olly Pitt cares for injured turtles at the wildlife rescue centre in Ballina.

Be the future of our underwater world

Southern Cross University is a world leader in marine science teaching and research, offering both undergraduate and research degrees in this fascinating and important field. 

Our Bachelor of Science with a specialisation in Marine Systems is taught at the National Marine Science Centre (NMSC) in Coffs Harbour or online. It combines marine science with contemporary management concepts and has a focus on conservation issues in coastal and marine ecosystems.  

There is also a strong practical component, enabling students to learn sampling techniques in different marine and coastal habitats in the Solitary Islands Marine Park, as well as gain experience with drone technology and spatial mapping. 

Postgraduate studies are also offered at the NMSC, a centre of significant and diverse research activity ranging from marine ecology and species preservation to climate change mitigation, ocean plastics and pollution removal, and aquaculture. The NMSC has advanced facilities for marine research including a flow-through seawater system, hatchery and a public aquarium. 

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“It's nice to be working in a field where you can see things shifting, and Southern Cross helped me to achieve this goal. ”

Uni in July


There's never been a better time to study

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Why choose Marine Science at Southern Cross University?

Living labs on our doorstep

Develop skills in the labs and out in the field including the Solitary Islands, Cape Byron and Great Barrier Reef marine parks

Explore our underwater world

Gain field experience with leading scientists

Subtropical marine experts

Learn in state-of-the-art facilities and from world-leading marine scientists at the National Marine Science Centre in Coffs Harbour

Marine science research

Coral IVF

Distinguished Professor Peter Harrison has pioneered a solution to mitigate the impacts of climate change on coral reefs. Coral IVF – the use of naturally occurring coral spawning to restore damaged reef systems – has proven to be effective for restoring breeding corals on badly damaged reefs in the Philippines, and the challenge now is to scale this success to larger reef areas including the Great Barrier Reef.

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Collecting corals ready for spawning - COPYRIGHT Gary Cranitch

Humpback dolphin strand feeding

Researchers have for the first time documented the unique risky feeding behaviour known as ‘strand feeding’ in Australian dolphins. Southern Cross University researcher Dr Daniele Cagnazzi used drones to film a pod of humpback dolphins in the Fitzroy River – one of Queensland’s largest catchments – to document young and adult dolphins ‘stranding’ or ‘beaching’ themselves to catch their next meal.

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Humpback dolphin strand feeding

Sea Cucumber Manual

A Southern Cross University manual for postharvest processing of small-scale fishery products is available in eight languages. The Sea Cucumber Manual, produced by the Southern Cross University's Dr Steven Purcell and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community with the financial support of ACIAR, is designed for sea cucumber fishers in the Pacific islands. It provides best-practice processing methods that can be applied by fishers using resources in their own villages.

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Sea cucumber at Heron Island

Cloud brightening

Led by Southern Cross researcher Dr Daniel Harrison, marine cloud brightening is a world-first technique which sees microscopic sea water droplets sprayed into the air, creating a plume of salt crystals. This interacts with cloud to reflect solar energy away from the reef waters when heat stress is at its maximum. Researchers aim to apply this technology over the Great Barrier Reef to reduce the severity of coral bleaching during marine heat waves, cooling and shading the corals below.

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Seawater sprayer jets close up 15 Cloud Brightening

I love the ocean. I love everything about it.  There's a constant adventure be it diving, free diving, surfing. My name is Zoe White. I studied Marine Science and  

Management and I work at Byron Shire Council as a waste education and compliance officer.  

I've done hundreds of dives but every time I do a dive, I always see something new. Working as a dive instructor was incredible. After doing it for quite a number of years I did start to see in some of the areas where I was diving a lot of impacts that were  being seen on the reefs from issues like plastic, marine debris and climate change as well and I just thought I need to be doing more so that people can do this in the future.

One of the most important skills that I learned while I was studying at Southern Cross University was the ability to be able to communicate effectively and communicate everything that we're learning. We learn so much scientific knowledge and a lot of the time it just ends there but I really learned the ability to be able to share that with our broader community so that we can try and encourage change.  We also gain lots of practical skills. So, we're always going out and doing field work.  So, it wasn't just sitting in a classroom and not feeling it like you're getting that hands-on experience that you really need to feel equipped once you're going out and into the real world.  So, a lot of the time I'm working on my prevention campaigns but there is also your daily sort of tasks and some of that is clean up. So, I'll get issues that are reported to me about an illegal dump out in the bush area or in an urban area. I'll go out and inspect that, see if I can find enough evidence to hopefully pursue the matter further. And then with my litter prevention campaigns there's a lot of data collection involved because we want to actually be seeing if whatever we're doing is changing over time.  

I feel pretty disgusted when I see plastic in the ocean. We need to be cutting things right back off at the source so that it's not getting anywhere near the marine environment where it's having so many detrimental effects. For little things that we can all do as an individual it's just being conscious about your decisions when you're purchasing things, choosing reusables, focusing on all of the great R's. So, there's lots more before recycling. There's repairing things, so it's not just throwing it away after it's been used once. It's continuing to keep things in and having yeah sort of circular economy where it's an item that then can be reused into different things and repurposed. Studying Marine Science can help us to make an impact because you have that knowledge to be able to go out and go okay what's going to work in this area? What can we do to change and rehabilitate or prevent something from happening so that we can protect it.

A better way to learn

We’re always looking for a better way to do things. That’s why we’re delivering our courses in six-week terms.

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