Qualification - Certificate in Marine Studies

Course CodeVEN014
Fee CodeCT
Duration (approx)600 hours


-Study and Learn at Home

  • 600 hour course
  • foundation studies for people working or wishing to work in Marine conservation, tourism or research

How do I get a job in Marine Science?

These jobs are highly sought after and difficult to obtain. To gain employment you must actively market your skills and present yourself well to prospective employers.

Employers generally seek potential employees who already have substantial existing knowledge and skills - as it requires time and a large financial commitment to train new employees. If you already have these skills it will increase your competitive position in the job market.

If you are seeking to work in these industries, we often find people who a certificate like this, together with an Open Water Divers License and Boat License improve their chances of employment.  This course provides with knowledge and practical skills to people working or wishing to work in marine biology, marine environmental management and those wishing to understand more about this fascinating subject. This is a foundation entry level course to develop skills that would be valued for working in the field of marine research and management .


Core ModulesThese modules provide foundation knowledge for the Qualification - Certificate in Marine Studies.
 Marine Biology I BEN103
 Earth Science BEN204
 Marine Studies II BEN203
Elective ModulesIn addition to the core modules, students study any 3 of the following 7 modules.
 Research Project I BGN102
 Workshop I BGN103
 Aquaculture -Marine BAG220
 Research Project II BGN201
 Workshop II BGN203
 Ecotourism Tour Guide Course BTR301
 Environmental Assessment BEN301

Note that each module in the Qualification - Certificate in Marine Studies is a short course in its own right, and may be studied separately.

What's covered by the Core Modules?


This course has 9 lessons as follows:

  1. Marine Ecology Systems
    Ecology; Marine Weather (including El Nino, Thermocline, Gulf streams, etc), Continental shelf, Nutrient cycle, Red tide, Plankton, Marine Plants (including Mangroves, Shallow & Deep water algae, etc)
  2. Shallow Waters & Reefs
    Coral Reefs, Rocky Shorelines, Estuaries, Introduction to marine arthropods
  3. Shellfish & Crustaceans
    Molluscs and Brachiopods. True Crabs, Hermit Crabs, Lobsters, Prawns etc
  4. Squid, Octopus, and Other Primitive Animals
    (Cephalopods and Clupeoids, etc)
  5. Fish Part A
    (Cartilaginous Fish) Sharks, Eels, Rays; Shark Lifecycle, How dangerous are sharks? Effect of sharks on tourism, etc.
  6. Fish Part B
    (Bony Fish) Fish Anatomy/structure (identifying external & internal parts); legalities (protection of wildlife), types of fish, etc
  7. Marine Mammals
    (Dolphins, Whales, etc) Types of marine mammals, protection and politics, position of these animals in the food chain, products derived from marine mammals & substitutes for those products.
  8. Turtles, Sea Snakes and Seabirds
    Types of turtles & sea snakes; toxicity of sea snakes; turtle protection, penguins and other sea birds (eg stints, knots, pelicans, swans, gulls, eagles, ibis, egrets, terns, shearwaters, gannets, albatross, prions, oyster-catchers and petrels).
  9. Human Impact on Marine Environments & Fishing
    Human impact on marine environments; commercial vs recreational fishing, significance of certain mesopelagic fish, techniques for managing stocks of fish & other marine life.



There are 10 lessons as follows:

  1. Introduction and Simple Organisms (Protists, Sponges etc)
  2. Marine Plants
  3. Cnidarians and Worms:   Anemones,  Jellyfish, Crustaceans, Flatworms
  4. Arthropods
  5. Molluscs
  6. Echinoderms: Starfish, Sea Urchins, Sea Cucumbers
  7. Non-Bony Fishes: Lampreys, Hagfishes, Sharks, Rays
  8. Bony Fishes I
  9. Bony Fishes II
  10. Marine Mammals



There are 9 lessons as follows: 

  1. Structure and Forces including plate tectonics and volcanoes
  2. Rocks and Minerals - this lesson also looks at the formation and features of rocks and minerals
  3. Surface Changes - erosion, weathering and surface waters
  4. The Oceans - this lesson covers examines waves, seawater, tides and the corriolis effect
  5. Air and Weather - the structure of the atmosphere, seasons,solar radiation and meteorology
  6. The Greenhouse Effect - also including the ozone layer and atmospheric pollutants
  7. Global Weather Patterns - looks at climate and climate classification
  8. Geological Time - relative dating, radiocarbon dating, fossils and more
  9. Modern Environmental Issues


Learn about Bony Fish -and a whole lot more

Bony fish are the first animals we tend to think about in marine environments. In part, this is because they are the most diverse and prolific group. They include 98% of all fish species. Bony fish belong to the taxonomic Class Osteichthyes. There are other types of fish (eg. sharks) and lots of other types of marine animals to also learn about. This courses gives you an overview of them all, and once you understand the fundamental similarities and differences between various types of marine animals, you then have a sound basis upon which to grow your knowledge and understanding of marine biology after your studies are completed.

The bony fish have the most complex head skeleton of all types of fish, with complete dermal (skin) skeletons of small to medium size bones (scales). They have internal gills in one chamber that are protected by a bony operculum.  Their internal skeleton is composed, at least partly, of true bones. Fins have rays, sometimes they are spiny. Most species have a swim bladder. The salt and water balance is maintained by kidneys. Fish of this class inhabit both seas and fresh waters and many species migrate between seas and rivers in their life cycle.  

How Bony Fish Move

Swimming is used to find mates for reproduction, to chase or find food, to escape danger and to obtain oxygen. Cartilaginous fish need to swim to move water through gills from which they obtain oxygen. Muscle used for swimming comprises a large percentage of fish body weight e.g. in Tuna, up to 75% of the body mass is muscle.

Bouyancy in Bony Fish
Bony fish have a swim bladder that provides buoyancy. Cartilaginous fish do not have this bladder, hence they need to use pectoral fins to provide lift as well as thrust. They generally have greater maneuverability than cartilaginous fish.

There are two types of swim bladders in bony fish, open or closed. Most of the primitive fish such as salmon, herring and eels have an open swim bladder. There is a connecting tube from the swim bladder to the oesophagus. These species fill the bladder by swallowing air at the water surface. This method of buoyancy can provide difficulties to fish that swim at greater depths as the water pressure increases the swim bladder will shrink on descent.

Most bony fish have the closed swim bladder. This bladder is not connected to the gut. Swim bladders generally take up about 5% of the body mass. This small size allows for neutral buoyancy. The swim bladder can also function as a receptor and producer of sound. It can help the fish to discriminate between a wider range of frequencies and decipher pitch better than the otolith of the ear.

How Bony Fish Feed
Both sharks and many bony fish are carnivores. Bony fish tend to hunt prey smaller than themselves; however, sharks will take bites out of things larger than themselves.

Bony fish can feed either by pursuing prey or filter feeding.  Filter feeders generally use gill rakers to filter plankton. These are a forward extension of the gills which allows the fish to retain plankton as water passes through the mouth.

 Bony fish are diverse in what they feed on, however different species have evolved specific preferences. For example, some prefer sponges, others sea urchins; some prefer sea weeds and others filter plankton for food.


In general, all fish share certain digestive structures including a stomach, intestine, liver, kidney and anus. Bony fish do have a more complex digestive system than cartilaginous fish. Carnivorous fish have a shorter, straight intestine. Fish that eat more difficult to digest plant material have a longer, coiled intestine.

Nervous system

Most bony fish have a well developed sense of smell.  Olfactory sacs are located on both sides of the head. These open to the outside through nostrils.

Taste buds allow determination of various chemical stimuli. These may be located not only in the mouth, but also on the lips, fins and skin. Taste buds can also be found on whisker-like structures called barbels.

Bony fish rely on vision more than cartilaginous fish.

Fish have a unique sense organ called a “lateral line” This involves a series of small canals running along the body in the skin, bone or cartilage. These canals open to the outside usually through visible pores. The lateral line detects vibrations of sound or water movement. Sound waves can also be detected by inner ears located beside the brain, just behind the eyes.

Bony Fish  Behaviour

Bony fish are able to respond to their environment in complex ways due to their well developed nervous system. Different types of complex behaviours are characteristic of different types of fish e.g. territorial behaviour, schooling, migration, reproductive behaviour. Below are some common behaviours exhibited by fish.

Migration and Schooling
Many species of fish are migratory in their behaviour. Migration distances will vary for different fish species. They can be as little as 25kms but are generally further. Fish may migrate for different reasons, but generally feeding and/or reproduction.

One well-known example is the migration of the Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar).  This species of fish hatch from eggs buried in gravel in fresh water streams of North America. They spend the first 2-3 years of their lives feeding on plankton before undergoing a physiological change to prepare their bodies for marine habitat. They then migrate to the Northern Atlantic Ocean for 1 to 2 years to feed. After this time, they will migrate back to the rivers they emerged from to spawn.

Marine fish commonly use external fertilisation of eggs. The eggs they are very small and prone to predation. The eggs are generally laid at mid level water and once hatched, the fish need to feed almost immediately.

Job Opportunities in Marine Industries

Marine based industries are significant in coastal areas all around the world.

More people will work in Marine Tourism, Fishing, Boating and Diving than in Marine Research or Conservation

Graduates can find work opportunities arising in a very wide range of areas, including Marine Biology and Conservation Management.  To get the job you want though; sometimes you need to take work you might not want at first, to simply get a start in the industry. This is in fact the same in any industry!

There is high competition for jobs as marine scientists, however if a Marine Biologist has varied experience and qualifications it will increase their opportunity of finding a job as they can apply for a wider range.  Possible occupations include:

  • Field Researcher
  • Aquarium Assistant
  • Ecotourism Expert Guide
  • Marine Park Manager
  • Lecturer/Tutor
  • Marine Planner
  • Environmental Consultant

Where Could you Work

  • Government Agencies (eg. GBRMPA)
  • Ecotourism Tour Operations
  • Universities and Colleges
  • Private Sector (eg. marine resource companies)
  • Self-employed (eg. Consultant)
  • Aquariums
  • Wildlife Conservation Organisations

This course can be a great starting point; but depending upon how far you want to go with a career; you may need to continue studying after completing this certificate.  

We do offer options to upgrade to higher qualifications; building upon this certificate. Those options are expanding all the time.

It's Easy to Enrol

Select a Learning Method


$1,653.00Payment plans available.

Courses can be started at any time from anywhere in the world!

Need Help?

Take advantage of our personalised, expert course counselling service to ensure you're making the best course choices for your situation.