Marine Studies II

This course builds on Marine studies I, extending your knowledge of marine organisms, particularly those that were not discussed thoroughly in Marine Studies I.

Course CodeBEN203
Fee CodeS2
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

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    A fascinating insight into marine life

    This course follows on from Marine studies I, extending your knowledge of a wide variety of marine organisms. It works through many types of marine organisms, focusing mostly on those not covered as thoroughly in Marine Studies I (This includes: Protists, Sponges, Marine plants, Cnidarians, Worms, Arthropods, Molluscs, Echinoderms, Non Bony Fish, Selected Bony Fish and selected Marine Mammals).

    Lesson Structure

    There are 10 lessons in this course:

    1. Introduction and Simple Organisms
      • Terminology
      • Classification or Taxonomy
      • Simple and microscopic organisms
      • Types of protazoans
      • Ciliates
      • Flagellates
      • Algae
      • Bacteria
      • Plankton
      • Sponges
    2. Marine Plants
      • Terminology
      • Overview of seaweeds
      • Chlorophyta (Green Algae)
      • Phaeophyta (Brown Algae)
      • Rhodophyta (Red algae)
      • Marine fungi
      • Marine flowering plants: sea grasses, mangroves, salt marsh plants
    3. Cnidarians and Worms:
      • Terminology
      • Anemones
      • Jellyfish
      • Crustaceans
      • Worms: flatworms, ribbon worms, round worms
      • Segmented worms. peanut worms, giant tube worms
    4. Arthropods
      • Introduction
      • Characteristics
      • Prawns and shrimps
      • Deep water prawns in the atlantic
      • The common prawn (Palaemon serratus)
      • Giant red shrimp
      • Pink prawn
      • Shallow water prawns
      • Indian white prawn
      • Tiger prawn
      • Kuruma shrimp
      • Green tiger prawn
      • Peneaeus notialis and others
      • Barnacles
      • Crabs
      • True crabs
      • Hermit crabs
    5. Molluscs
      • Introduction and classification
      • Characteristics
      • Gastropods
      • Whelk
      • Bivalves
      • Mussels and oysters
      • Cocles
      • Green lipped mussels, common mussel, mediterranean mussel, and others
      • Pacific oyster, European flat oyster, Olympia oyster
      • Nudibranchs (open gilled sea slugs)
      • Cephalapods
      • Octopuses
      • Biology of the octopus
      • Cuttlefish
      • Squid: classification and biology
      • Oegopsida squid and other squid
      • Chitons
    6. Echinoderms:
      • Terminology
      • Characteristics of Echinoderms
      • Starfish
      • Sea Urchins
      • Sea Cucumbers
    7. Non Bony Fishes:
      • Lampreys
      • Hagfishes
      • Sharks
      • Rays
    8. Bony Fishes I
      • Introduction
      • Terminology
      • Structure and biological characteristics
      • Classification
    9. Bony Fishes II
      • Families within Oesteichyes
      • Mesopelagic fish: distribution, life historyand ecology
      • Clupeoids (eg. sardine, herring)
      • Tunas: types, life history, feeding, predators
      • Mackerels
      • Bill Fish (Marlins, spear fish, sail fish)
    10. Marine Mammals and Higher Animals
      • Marine reptiles: sea snakes, sea turtles, crocadylians
      • Pinnipeds (seals walruses, Seal lions
      • Dugongs and Manatees
      • Whales and Dolphins
      • Sea birds

    Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.


    • Describe the variety and nature of microscopic animals which occur in marine environments.
    • Describe the variety and nature of a range of different types of marine plants.
    • Describe the variety and nature of a range of different types of cnidarians and marine worms.
    • Describe the variety and nature of arthropods in marine environments.
    • Describe the variety and nature of Molluscs in marine environments.
    • Differentiate between different classes of Echinoderms and selected families within those classes.
    • Describe the shared characteristics and distinguishing features of a selection of different species of non-bony fish.
    • Describe characteristics of bony fish, including anatomy, physiology and behaviour.
    • Differentiate between different families of bony fish.
    • Describe the taxonomic characteristics of groups of marine animals including reptiles, birds and mammals.

    What You Will Do

    • Draw a table to compare three different phyla of marine protists.
    • Explain the differences between sponges, krill and plankton.
    • Produce a table that compares the characteristics of the three different types of algae.
    • Explain the difference between seaweed and seagrass.
    • How important are marine plants to the survival of marine animals?
    • Explain features that distinguish different types of worms apart, including:
      • Flatworms
      • Ribbon Worms
      • Segmented Worms
      • Peanut Worms
    • Present a report on research on the Cnidarians.
    • Explain the formation of coral reefs. Why are they considered one of the most biologically productive environments?
    • What are the advantages of the arthropod’s body structure compared to the structure of the less complex animals studied so far in this course?
    • Research the living environments of one local arthropod and consider how its body structure and feeding mechanism is adapted to its environment.
    • What limitations in lifestyle and behaviour might be imposed by the structure of arthopods?
    • Differentiate between cephalopods, gastropods and bivalves.
    • Describe the feeding and defence mechanisms of two different molluscs.
    • Describe the advantages and disadvantages of the echinoderm’s radially symmetrical body.
    • What are the feeding, breeding and defence characteristics of echinoderms?
    • Select 3 echinoderms and describe their method of reproduction.
    • Describe the sensory and behavioural adaptations that sharks and rays use for defence and feeding.
    • Do sharks deserve their reputation as maneaters?
    • What are the main differences between sharks and rays, and what are main benefits to them of these differences?
    • Describe the relationship between a particular kind of lamprey (ideally, one found locally) and its host, considering who benefits and/or who does not, and why.
    • List three families of local bony fish.
    • Briefly describe the biological characteristics of three fish families:
      • structure
      • feeding
      • colouration
      • reproductive
      • defense mechanisms
    • Discuss the behavioural characteristics of the three families you researched:
      • territorial behaviour
      • migration
      • schooling
      • reproductive behaviour
    • Draw and describe the gills of bony fish, and explain their function.
    • What families of fish are characterised by their habit of sitting perched on their lower fins?
    • What are the special adaptations of fish and other marine organisms that live in the mid to deep zones of the ocean?
    • List the most significant bony fish that occur in your nearest marine waters, and briefly describe their marine environment.
    • Research in detail 1 marine reptile and 2 marine mammals.

    Working in Marine Biology or Science

    Marine Biologists can gain employment in both government and non-government agencies.  There is high competition for jobs at this level as they are not extremely common.  However, if a Marine Biologist has varied experience and formal studies 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 Ecotourism Tour Operations Universities and Colleges Private Sector (eg. marine resource companies) Aquaculture Farms Self-employed (eg. Consultant) Aquariums Pet Shops, Aquarium suppliers Wildlife Conservation Organisations

    Remuneration in the marine sciences industry can vary greatly but most full-time positions earn an average salary. Managers or specialised positions (i.e. Environmental Consultant, Planning Manager) can earn a comfortable salary but it may take some time and experience for advancement.  Rates of pay can be low for people starting out (irrespective of whether they have a qualification or not), but those who have formal training and can demonstrate useful skills, are likely to advance faster than others.

    Risks and Challenges
    Probably the main risk and challenge of becoming a marine biologist is the competitive nature of the industry. Once you have obtained work, much of the stress acknowledged by Marine Biologists in the field is in organising schedules. When working in the tourism industry stress can become a factor when coordinating groups of visitors in the water. 

    There are also inherent risks involved when working in the marine environment, especially if you are constantly working in the ocean collecting data. 


    How to become a Marine Biologist

    When starting out in this industry it is beneficial to offer your expertise as a volunteer with either government or non-government organisations.  This not only gives you experience which is so highly desired by employers but also access to an organisation which you wish to work for in the future.
    Varying your skills can also set you apart and broaden your opportunities for further employment.  It is good to have a speciality, however this can be limiting when looking for work.


    To work as a contractor in this field, you should consider personal indemnity insurance. A Professional Indemnity policy aims to shield the professional's assets in the event of a claim, therefore ensuring that he/she is able to carry on their business. Most of the roles mentioned above are not filled by contractors and are more commonly recruited as casual or permanent positions. To minimise risk of liability, you must investigate and learn about the legal and professional requirements for practicing in this field.
    To become a Marine Biologist you will need at least three years undergraduate qualifications and most likely either a Masters or PhD.  However, if you would like to start out in this field or try it out before committing yourself to full-time study, you can look to complete vocational courses.
    There is also scope for working as a guide, or similar in a marine environment without a University qualification, such as a snorkel guide, whale watching guide, scuba guide, whale shark spotter and guide etc.

    Related areas of employment can include:

    • Tour Guide
    • Ecotourism
    • Aquaculture
    • Wildlife Officer
    • Park Ranger
    • Animal Rescue
    • Zoo Keeper
    • Scientist
    • Wildlife Observation

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