The University of Newcastle, Australia
Available in 2020
Course code



10 units


2000 level

Course handbook


Coral reefs are ecologically diverse and extremely complex habitats, supporting thousands of marine species. This course will examine some of the biological and ecological aspects of coral reefs in order to gain a better understanding of this complex and unique environment. The course involves a strong field component, including collection of field data based on identification and observation of reef organisms in Vanuatu. Students will gain general knowledge of corals, the numerous other marine organisms that are found on reefs and some of the current issues surrounding anthropogenic impacts on coral reefs. This course will be particularly beneficial to those students pursuing careers in teaching/education where they will be able to take this knowledge and experience in to their future classrooms.

The field component of this course, at Hideaway Island, Vanuatu, requires students to pass a snorkel assessment and involves a significant up-front fee, not covered by HECS-HELP. This may vary with each offering of the course, so interested students should contact the School of Environmental and Life Sciences for more information.



  • Semester 1 - 2020


  • Semester 1 - 2020

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of the course students will be able to:

1. Identify and collect field data from observations of common flora and fauna associated with coral reefs

2. Explain general coral reef processes

3. Describe human and environmental impacts to coral reefs

4. Contribute to team and group work for scientific investigations and for the process of learning

5. Synthesise and communicate the results of both theoretical and experimental work in various forms including written reports, oral presentations and poster presentations


Part 1 (on-line Semester 1 at Ourimbah Campus):

  • General background on coral reefs
  • Plankton and early life histories
  • Coral reef fish ecology and behaviour
  • Connectivity of reef habitats
  • Environmental and human impacts to reefs

Part 2: (1 week at Hideaway Island, Vanuatu):  The practical component of the course completed as field activities linked with each module in Part 1. Students will complete one module per day in small groups that rotate through modules across the week. The course consists of both peer and academic assessment as well as group and individual assessment


Assessment items

Quiz: Online Quiz

Written Assignment: Group work assessment

Formal Examination: Formal Examination

Presentation: Oral presentation

Report: Final report

Compulsory Requirements

In order to pass this course, each student must complete ALL of the following compulsory requirements:

General Course Requirements:

  • Field Study: Induction Requirement - Students must attend and pass the induction requirements before attending these sessions. - In order to participate in this course students must complete a compulsory safety induction and pass a compulsory swim assessment.

Contact hours

Callaghan and Ourimbah

Field Study

Face to Face Off Campus 36 hour(s) per Week for 1 Weeks

The field study will take place at Hideaway Island, Vanuatu in the third week of July each year (dates to be announced),

Online Activity

Online 3 hour(s) per Week for Full Term

The lectures will be on-line during semester.