Introduction to Coral Reef Biology (Adv) (BIOL2920)


The content will be based on the standard unit BIOL2020 but qualified students will participate in alternative components at a more advanced level. This unit covers the key biological organisms and processes in coral reef environments and linkages between them. Emphasis is given to corals, other reef associated invertebrates (e.g. echinoderms), plankton and fishes. Ecological and physiological aspects of key organisms are explored. Aspects covered include oceanography, biogeography, distribution of corals, coral bleaching and health, symbioses, the input of plankton to reefs, the role of fishes and invertebrate bio-eroders in reef environments, and impacts of environmental change on coral reef health. The unit is well suited to students with interests in marine science and ecology, environmental sciences and broader disciplines (e.g. education, arts, and environmental law). This unit will be available in EVEN years (2014, 2016...) only. You may take an alternative field unit of study when this unit is unavailable. Departmental permission is required for entry into this unit, based on placement availability and merit. Contact the School of Biological Sciences Office for the Special Permission form to request enrolment.

Our courses that offer this unit of study

Further unit of study information


7-day intensive field course (21-27 July inclusive).


Two 1000-word essays (2x10%), one 2000-word field report designed specifically for the Advanced stream (40%), one 2-hour exam (40%).


Hutchings PA, O. Hoegh-Guldberg and M. J. Kingsford (eds) 2008 The Great Barrier Reef, Biology, Environment and Management. CSIRO Press. Hopley 2011 Encyclopedia of Modern Coral Reefs. Springer.

Faculty/department permission required?


Unit of study rules

Prerequisites and assumed knowledge

Distinction average in either- 12cp Junior BIOL, or (6cp Junior BIOL and (MBLG1001 or MBLG1901))

(BIOL1002 or BIOL1902) and 12 credit points of Intermediate Biology


BIOL2020 or BIOL3016 or BIOL3916

Study this unit outside a degree

Non-award/non-degree study

If you wish to undertake one or more units of study (subjects) for your own interest but not towards a degree, you may enrol in single units as a non-award student.

Cross-institutional study

If you are from another Australian tertiary institution you may be permitted to underake cross-institutional study in one or more units of study at the University of Sydney.