Monash University

Undergraduate - Area of study

Students who commenced study in 2014 should refer to this area of study entry for direction on the requirments; to check which units are currently available for enrolment, refer to the unit indexes in the the current edition of the Handbook. If you have any queries contact the managing faculty for your area of study.

print version

This area of study entry applies to students commencing this course in 2014 and should be read in conjunction with the relevant course entry in the Handbook. Any units listed for this area of study relate only to the 'Requirements' outlined in the Faculty of Science component of any bachelors double degrees.

Managing facultyFaculty of Science
Offered bySchool of Biological Sciences
CoordinatorDr Richard Reina (School of Biological Sciences)


  • Unit codes that are not linked to their entry in the Handbook are not available for study in the current year.


A large proportion of the world's living resources are found in aquatic ecosystems such as lakes, rivers and oceans, that comprise the vast majority of the habitable space on Earth. Marine and freshwater biology is the study of the plant and animal life in these aquatic environments, to acquire a fundamental understanding of the diversity of living organisms that inhabit these systems, the organisms' structure and function and the interactions between them and the non-living components. Marine and freshwater biology also investigates the dynamics of marine and freshwater ecosystems, to understand the role of humans in disturbing and exploiting aquatic habitats. Such a knowledge base equips us to understand life processes in marine and freshwater environments and is relevant to many careers associated with managing these essential ecosystems. Examples of careers available to students who study marine and freshwater biology include agricultural research, biotechnology, ecological and environmental consulting, marine science, government departments (e.g. sustainability, primary industries and fisheries), university research and teaching. Studying marine and freshwater biology at Monash University begins with general biology at first year, where the basics of ecology, animal and plant biology are covered. It is followed in second year by studies of ecology and biodiversity as well as plant and animal diversity. In third year there is specific focus on marine biology and freshwater ecology, with a major emphasis on practical and field work. Other units on ecology and environmental management complement the development of a broader understanding of the role and importance of marine and freshwater biology in our world.

Learning outcomes

Graduates will be able to:

  • describe the biological structure and ecological processes that characterise marine and freshwater environments including diversity, ecology and eco-physiology of marine and freshwater organisms, dynamics of energy and nutrient fluxes and trophic interactions
  • apply practical skills in experimental methods relevant to marine and freshwater biology, including plant and animal identification, plant and animal physiology techniques, and ecological field methods including those that are pertinent to management issues associated with aquatic resource management
  • explain and apply principles of experimental design, data collection and interpretation
  • demonstrate, in the context of the discipline, the graduate attributes of effective communication, quantitative literacy, information and communication literacy, inquiry and critical thinking, and ethical, social and international understanding
  • undertake further study, research and employment in marine and freshwater biology or a related area of the biological sciences.


Level one

Level two

Level three

Sequence requirements

Major sequence in marine and freshwater biology (48 points)

Requirements for honours in marine and freshwater biology

Additional information

Level one

Coordinator: Dr Gerry Rayner

Students studying marine and freshwater biology in their first year will take BIO1011 plus BIO1022 and/or BIO1042. The focus in first year is to provide the basic knowledge on the biological processes that living organisms undergo, as well as the environmental challenges and biological solutions that are fundamental to life. This knowledge enables a deeper understanding of the ecological processes and structure and function of plants and animals in aquatic systems that are encountered in later years of study.

Level two

Coordinator: Dr Richard Reina

Students planning to complete a major sequence must complete BIO2011 which will introduce the principles of ecological relationships between living organisms. In addition, BIO2231 and/or BIO2181 must be completed in order to gain an understanding of the diversity of animals and plants in our world, many of which inhabit aquatic environments. All of these units have a focus on practical work to complement lecture material. Skills in these practical aspects are important for study of marine and freshwater biology at a more advanced level.

Level three

Coordinator: Dr Richard Reina

The final year of the marine and freshwater biology area of study builds upon the knowledge gained in earlier levels and continues it in BIO3021 and BIO3122 both of which are required for the major. In these units students examine the marine and freshwater environments in greater detail, to understand the cycling of nutrients, ecological relationships, plant and animal biology, trophic structure and interspecific interactions in these aquatic systems. There is particular focus on fieldwork, with the practical component of both of these units involving project work to design experiments, collect and analyse data. This fieldwork includes tropical marine biology at Heron Island on the Great Barrier Reef, temperate marine biology at Queenscliff, Victoria and freshwater ecology in streams and rivers of central and eastern Victoria. One or two other level three units must be included in the major, chosen from BIO3011, BIO3082 and BIO3111.


In addition to the requirements listed above, students must meet the entry requirements for the science honours program relevant to their course of enrolment. See the entries for:

  • 3520 Bachelor of Science Advanced (Research)
  • 0051 Honours degree of Bachelor of Science
  • 2188 Honours degree of Bachelor of Science (Science Scholar Program)

Full details regarding the course structure for honours in this area of study are outlined in course 0051 Honours degree of Bachelor of Science.

Relevant courses

Single degrees

  • 3544 Bachelor of Environmental Science
  • 0050 Bachelor of Science
  • 3550 Bachelor of Science Advanced (Global Challenges)
  • 3520 Bachelor of Science Advanced (Research)

Double degrees

  • 0530 Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science
  • 3537 Bachelor of Arts (Global) and Bachelor of Science
  • 3528 Bachelor of Biomedical Science and Bachelor of Science
  • 1469 Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Science
  • 3517 Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Computer Science
  • 3711 Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Education
  • 1633 Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Education
  • 4642 Bachelor of Aerospace Engineering (Honours) and Bachelor of Science
  • 4646 Bachelor of Environmental Engineering (Honours) and Bachelor of Science
  • 4650 Bachelor of Mechatronics Engineering (Honours) and Bachelor of Science
  • 4638 Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Engineering (Honours)
  • 0086 Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Laws

Honours degrees

  • 0051 Honours degree of Bachelor of Science
  • 2188 Honours degree of Bachelor of Science (Science Scholar Program)