The UNSW Introductory Marine Science (MSCI2001) course will introduce you to a cross-section of the theory and application of marine science. It also includes an opportunity to experience field research of coastal landforms at UNSW’s Smiths Lake Field Station.

Marine Science spans across the disciplines of Geology, Chemistry, Physics and Biology. In studying the marine environment, you’ll learn about ocean and coastal ecosystems and a career in this field will allow you to make valuable contributions to climate change, threats to Australian marine life, solution design for waste management and more.

The Introductory to Marine Science course provides a fundamental understanding of how oceans work and covers the following topics:

  • The chemistry of seawater
  • Air-sea interactions
  • Ocean circulation
  • Waves, tides and coastlines
  • Biological productivity
  • Biological diversity


Course Breakdown

The course aims to provide a holistic understanding of how marine ecosystems work. During the course, you’ll develop a basic understanding of how the physics and chemistry of the ocean influence the biology and ecology of marine organisms.

There are 10 learning outcomes expected from this course:

  1. Demonstrate an understanding of the physical forces that drive coastal and oceanic processes and relate them to flow regimes over different temporal and spatial scales
  2. Describe the chemical properties of seawater and explain the consequences for ocean acidification of the build-up of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere
  3. Relate the properties of seawater to the feeding and reproductive strategies of some marine organisms
  4. Recognise major coastal landforms and explain the factors that ultimately control their large-scale evolution (plate tectonics and sea-level change)
  5. Integrate the processes that shape the coast on a day-to-day basis (weather, waves and tides) in order to explain beach-type classifications
  6. Describe the major taxonomic groups of marine organisms and how they differ in structural complexity
  7. Locate information on environmental parameters in order to predict the biological and ecological consequences for marine life
  8. Communicate discipline-specific information in a written form with appropriate referencing
  9. Translate into plain English and present the aims, methods and results of a marine science study that has been published in an international journal
  10. Collaborate with a small group to collect primary data that will allow you to propose hypotheses regarding the relationship between a force and an effect in a marine system

This course is ideally taken prior to the following more advanced marine sciences subjects:


Career Opportunities

Marine Scientists have a deep understanding of the ocean and marine life. By observing the interactions of marine plants and animals with coastal areas and the atmosphere, Marine Scientists can help preserve ecosystems.

At UNSW Science, you can specialise in Marine Science through The Introductory to Marine Science course or further your study in the broader field of Environmental Science through the Master of Marine Science and Management.

Relevant Roles

  • Meteorologist
  • Geologist
  • Geophysicist
  • Hydrologist
  • Ecologist
  • Environmental Scientist
  • Natural Resource Manager
  • Marine Scientist
  • Marine Biologist
  • Environmental Scientist

Learn more


What Our Graduates Say

“The field course gave us first-hand experience of marine science fieldwork. It also helped me to get to know the other students in a more focused environment. We had a good balance between work and fun. I really enjoyed the field trip and loved the whole experience. All coordinators were legends and they really allowed me to get a good grasp of marine science and research.”

- Introductory to Marine Science graduate.