Approx. Time Difference
Mid-Mar - Oct: + 17 hrs
Nov - Mid-Mar: + 18 hrs
This guide was created to help you navigate the different aspects of travelling abroad as a UCEAP student. All important aspects of attending university in your host country are addressed here, including academic information, extension of UCEAP participation, cultural awareness, orientation, transportation, finances and much more.
Remember to visit the Participants
section of the UCEAP website for important information and deadlines.
Read also the Information Handbook
created for you by the University of Queensland School of Biological Sciences.
Click a heading below to see section content.
University of Queensland
Founded in 1910 as one of the early metropolitan universities in Australia, the University of Queensland is an attractive campus in a bend of the Brisbane River in St. Lucia, fewer than five miles from Brisbane’s central business district. The university comprises faculties of Arts; Business, Economics, and Law; Engineering, Architecture, and Information Technology; Health Sciences; Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Veterinary Science; Science; and Social and Behavioral Sciences. It enrolls more than 45,000 undergraduate students from about 134 countries. This global student body enriches the cultural diversity of campus life and presents opportunities for international networking.
The University of Queensland is known for high-quality coursework; excellent museums (an anthropology museum, an antiquities museum, and an art museum with the largest university collection of Australian art anywhere); and its marine research stations at the Great Barrier Reef, Heron Island, Pinjarra Hills, and Moreton Bay. It recently was selected by the Rotary Foundation to host one of six new global centers for peace and conflict resolution.
University of Queensland’s School of Biological Sciences
The University of Queensland’s School of Biological Sciences helps to coordinate the University of Queensland’s research and teaching focusing on the ocean, coast, estuaries, and reefs, as well as rain forest, outback, and urban environments.
Queensland is home to diverse marine systems, including coral reefs, rocky shores, beaches, salt marshes, mangroves, and sea grasses. The region’s rich variety of life includes a multitude of invertebrates and fishes, marine turtles, dolphins, dugong, and whales. The teaching and research programs cover the full range of organisms and environments.
The Faculty of Science coordinates activities at Heron Island Research Station, the largest research station on the Great Barrier Reef; Moreton Bay Research Station, a modern facility on Stradbroke Island in Moreton Bay; a suite of vessels of various capacities; and an aquaculture facility located a few kilometers from Queensland’s main campus. The Center for Marine Science (CMS), operating within the School of Biological Sciences, integrates marine teaching and research for the disciplines of Anatomical Sciences, Anthropology, Agriculture, Botany, Chemical Engineering, Chemistry, Civil Engineering, Earth Sciences, Economics, Geographical Sciences and Planning, Law, Microbiology and Parasitology, Management Studies, Physics, Tourism, and Zoology and Entomology.
Biologists affiliated with the School of Biological Sciences study the nerves, sensory systems, circulatory systems, physiology, reproduction, behavior, and parasites and pathogens of marine vertebrates and invertebrates from the tropics to the Antarctic. Ecologists at the center investigate the pelagic, littoral, and benthic plant and animal communities of Australia’s reefs, coasts, estuaries, rivers, and lakes with particular focus on identifying key ecological processes, environmental impact, and the sustainability of marine and aquatic resources. Specialists in aquaculture assess the economics of culture systems, the detection and treatment of pathogens and parasites, and the optimal rearing conditions for crustaceans, mollusks, fish, and reptiles; they also investigate the properties of potential culture organisms. Economists and management specialists investigate fisheries, econometrics, and the use of coastal lands for tourism, aquaculture, natural systems management, environmental law, conservation, marine rehabilitation, and marine parks. Research on maritime and international law of the sea targets oceans policy, governance conventions, maritime boundaries, crime, and conflict resolution. CMS engineers and physicists deal with fluid dynamics, wave mechanics, coastal and estuarine environmental processes, waste treatment, water quality, biotechnology, the discovery of natural products for commerce, the geology and chemistry of reefs and the seabed, climatology, oceanography, physical geography, remote sensing, geographic information systems, and environmental planning.
The University of Queensland has made a considerable investment in its high-quality marine teaching and research functions, and its marine research facilities meet world-class standards. A wide range of advanced research programs are led by the university’s dynamic academic staff.
UCEAP’s Marine Biology and Human and Terrestrial Ecology Program consists of lectures, laboratory studies, and extensive field study at the Heron Island Research Station on the Great Barrier Reef, the Moreton Bay Research Station, Carnarvon Gorge in Australia’s Outback, and Lamington National Park rainforests. The program is designed for juniors and seniors with backgrounds in marine biology, ecology, environmental science, oceanography, conservation biology, marine engineering, and related fields.
Assessment and Evaluation
A mix of continuous assessment, reports, and exams are used. An assessment of your participation in field and class activities will be included. For each course, you will complete up to two each of written reports on field-based projects, essays, and 90-minute written tests. The requirements vary by course. The essays are based on a topic of your interest which is finalized following discussion with the course coordinator. The essays may be in-depth examinations of specific topics or integrative approaches to general topics. Resources of the university’s Biological Sciences Library will be available to provide access to relevant literature.
The program is taught by academic and research staff of the University of Queensland and its affiliates. All staff have prior experience and a record of excellence in research and undergraduate teaching in their fields.
You will have full library access during the program. There are no recommended textbooks that need to be purchased.
You will enroll in two courses spanning 12 weeks of instruction and totaling 21 UC quarter units. The prominence of each course will alternate throughout the program.
- Marine Biology (13 UC quarter units)
- Human and Terrestrial Ecology (8 UC quarter units)
Course Syllabi Samples
The following are course descriptions and lecture topics from past years. Some items may be changed for the current year.
Marine Biology (13 UC Quarter Units)
This course is specifically designed for University of California students who have at least an intermediate level of familiarity with the biology and ecology of marine organisms, sampling techniques, sampling theory and experimental design, and statistics; however, students with only a little of this knowledge are encouraged to apply. The program combines background knowledge of Australian marine systems and maritime resources with advanced concepts and exercises in marine biology.
The program will take you from the rich diversity of the estuarine and coastal systems around Moreton Bay to nesting turtles at Heron Island on the Great Barrier Reef. A combination of lectures and field-based instruction with essays and research reports provides an advanced understanding of tropical marine biology and ecology with particular emphasis on comparisons of temperate Pacific Ocean systems. Fascinating field trips consolidate information on other aspects of Australian ecology and life and make the program an intensive and diverse teaching and learning package that is unique in Australia.
Students participate in two marine biology field trips. The first takes place at the Moreton Bay Research Station on North Stradbroke Island, and includes the exploration of the major marine environments on the island, including seagrasses, mangroves, rocky shores, sandy beaches, and subtropical coral reefs. At the end of the program, a second field trip focuses entirely on excellence and problem solving in marine research. It takes place at the Heron Island Research Station on the Great Barrier Reef. At the research station, you will participate in class-based activities that introduce the geomorphology, island ecology, management, marine biology, and ecology of coral reefs. Following these activities, you will conduct a research project with a group and present your results. Research reports are prepared to international journal manuscript standards.
Lecture Topics: Subject to change based upon faculty availability.
- Introduction to Marine Environments
- Diversity and Biogeography of Australian Marine Organisms
- The Shaping of the Australian Coastline
- Structure of Marine Plant Communities
- Primary Production in Tropical Estuarine Systems
- Physico-Chemical Influences of Estuarine Productivity
- Seagrass Macrograzer Ecology
- Managing Moreton Bay
- Endangered Aquatic Environment
- Australian Cetaceans
- Tropical Plankton and Pelagic Processes
- Subtropical and Tropical Estuarine Trophic Webs
- Sublittoral Benthic Communities
- Intertidal Rocky Shore Communities
- Intertidal Sand and Mud Shore Communities
- Moreton Bay 1: Physical Environment
- Moreton Bay 2: Ecology
- Toxic Cyanobacteria in Moreton Bay
- Nekton Nurseries in the Tropics
- Sensory Modalities of Fish
- Larval Recruitment in Estuaries
- Subtropical Coral Communities
- Estuarine Shark Populations
- Seabirds of Australia
- Origins and Geology of Coral Reefs
- Geomorphology of Coral Reefs and Coral Cays
- Corals in Space and Time
- Parasitism and Symbiosis in Reef Systems
- Coral Biology
- Coral Defense and Spatial Relationships
- Marine Flora of the Great Barrier Reef
- Primary Production in Reef Systems
- Reproduction, Dispersal and Recruitment in Corals
- Energy Pathways in Reef Systems
- Colour and Vision in Coral Reefs
- Are Coral Reefs Dying?
- Grazing in Reef Systems
- Poisonous and Venomous Animals: Human Health
- Why are Reef Fish so Diverse?
- The Reef’s Predators
- Toxic Repertoires of Reef Organisms
- Australian Fisheries
- Effects of Fishing
- Marine Pests
- History and Management: Australian Marine Resources
- Australian Mariculture
- Marine Protected Areas and Bioregionalisation
- Legislative Frameworks for Marine Resources: Part 1
- Legislative Frameworks for Marine Resources: Part 2
Human and Terrestrial Ecology (8 UC Quarter Units)
This course examines the unique terrestrial flora and fauna of Australia. It is designed to equip you with a basic familiarity with the biology and ecology of terrestrial ecosystems in Australia (which can thus be compared and contrasted with ecosystems in the Americas). You will examine how the defining physical factors of the continent, such as climate and geology, have resulted in a distinctive Australian vegetation; explore how these physical factors and plant life have in turn influenced the evolution of Australia’s animals; and consider the interrelationships between Australian ecosystems and human cultures, both Aboriginal and contemporary. The combination of lectures, extended field trips, field-based study, and writing tasks will help you to develop knowledge of Australia’s unique terrestrial and freshwater environments and provide you with the field observation skills to investigate them. The ultimate aim of the course is to encourage you to bring a new perspective to terrestrial ecology.
A field trip to Carnarvon Gorge National Park will introduce you to what Australians call “the bush,” the characteristic Australian vegetation adapted to poor soils, unpredictable rainfall, and a fire-prone environment. At Carnarvon Gorge, you will also experience close encounters with unique Australian animals such as kangaroos and kookaburras, and see one of the finest galleries of Aboriginal rock art. A trip to Lamington National Park (Binna Burra) introduces the world heritage Australian rainforest, and emphasizes the biological legacy of Australian prehistory and the ancient super-continent of Gondwana. The bushwalks at Lamington are considered some of the finest in Australia, and you will be hiking among rain forest waterfalls and exhilarating mountain scenery.
During the terrestrial ecology component of the course, you will be writing a literature review on an Australian habitat—a scholarly, essay-based writing task designed to complement the scientific report writing skills developed during the Marine Biology course. You will also be completing a book of terrestrial fieldwork, which includes an independent project based on your observation of Australian wildlife.
Lecture Topics:Subject to change based upon faculty availability.
- What Makes Australia Different?
- Introduction to Australia’s Geology
- Introduction to Australia’s Climate
- Introduction to Botany: How do Plants Work?
- Introduction to Plant Ecology in Australia
- Ecology of Fire in Australia
- Ecology of Sclerophyll Vegetation in Australia
- The Significance of Australian Rainforests
- Vegetation of the Dry Australian Inland
- The Future Eaters: The “Big Picture” in Australian Ecology?
- Critically Reviewing the Future Eaters Theory
- Introduction to Zoology in Australia
- Introduction to Australian Terrestrial Invertebrates
- Introduction to Australian Reptiles and Amphibians
- Introduction to Australian Mammals
- Introduction to Australian Birds
- Australian Ecosystems: Exploitation and Conservation
- Astronomy of the Southern Skies
- The Ecology of Natural Tropical Riverine Ecosystems
- The Distribution and Ecology of Tropical Lake Systems
- The Impacts of Invasive Species on Tropical Lake and River Systems
- The Dynamic Ecologies of Australian Man-made Lakes
Online Registration with UQ
Well before departure, the School of Biological Sciences will forward you information about the online registration form. You must register as they instruct and provide your flight itinerary, medical or dietary requirements, homestay preferences and relevant general information. This information is used to assist with program planning, logistics, and to help determine the best homestay family placement for you.
Grades are usually available at the end of January or the beginning of February. Early grades are not possible.
Extending UCEAP Participation
There is no option to extend participation in this program.
Official Start Date & Mandatory Orientation
Official UCEAP Start Date
Arrange to arrive in Brisbane on or by August 18, 2013, the “Last Date to Arrive” (see the complete program calendar under the calendar tab on your UCEAP Participants' Page
). You must make your own flight and travel arrangements to arrive in Brisbane for the mandatory orientation program
. If departing from the West Coast, be sure to allow two calendar days for the flight.
The start date of your program can change due to unforeseen circumstances. You are responsible for making modifications in your travel itinerary to accommodate such changes. UCEAP is not responsible for any unrecoverable transportation charges incurred if you make an adjustment to your travel arrangements.
The UCEAP student budget does not include funds for recreational travel abroad.
Travel to Your Host Country
You will need to book and pay for a flight to Brisbane; there is no pre-arranged group flight. Check the calendar tab on the UCEAP Participants page for the "Last Date to Arrive" and other details of the program schedule. The last date to arrive in Brisbane is August 18, 2013, and the first UCEAP orientation session will begin the morning of August 19. Attendance at orientation is mandatory.
Shortly before the program begins, you will receive details from UQ Biological Sciences regarding the transfer service taking you from the airport to your first destination.
Your UCEAP Insurance Plan
offers coverage on lost or destroyed property; however, you should assess the Personal Property Benefit provided in the policy and verify that it is adequate for your needs.
When traveling always keep your passport, visa, ticket, prescription medications, and money with you. Never put valuables in your checked luggage. Leave extra credit cards at home and carry only what is necessary. Luggage and weight restrictions vary by airline.
Identify each item of luggage on the inside and outside with your name, home address, and destination. To avoid theft, never leave luggage unattended. Do not ask others to carry any items abroad for you (laptop, camera, extra bags, etc.) and do not volunteer to do so for others. Airlines may not allow you to take them and customs abroad may charge you a high duty. This is particularly a concern with electronic goods.
Travel light and pack your belongings in suitcases and backpacks that are small enough to lift and carry.
You must obtain a tourist visa for this program. The UCEAP Systemwide Office posts instructions for the application process to the Predeparture Checklist located on the UCEAP Participants page
- Pants, sweaters, jacket for cold and rainy weather (the temperature can drop below 50ºF)
- Light clothes for summer months (humid weather, temperatures 70ºF to 105ºF with occasional heavy rainfall)
- Sunscreen—SPF 30 or higher
- Sunglasses (polarized glasses are highly recommended)
- Smaller bag or backpack for daytrips (e.g., day bush walks)
- Sleeping bag (for some field trips)
- Prescribed medication (enough for the whole trip) and a copy of the prescription to show to customs
- Spending cash or ATM card (ATMs are widely available)
- A few extra passport-sized photos
Field Trip Requirements
- Waterproof coat/jacket
- Long shirts, pants, and socks for forest work
- Comfortable, enclosed shoes or boots for hiking
- Mosquito repellent (can also be purchased in Australia)
- Water bottle
- Rash guard or old T-shirt for water activities
- Reef shoes or old running shoes to wear during fieldwork on the reef
- Field notebooks, pens, pencils, pencil sharpener, eraser, inexpensive calculator, and ruler
- Diving mask is needed if you wear glasses or contact lenses; otherwise, these are provided along with fins and a wetsuit
- Bring snorkeling gear if you wish; this can also be provided on the island (most dive or snorkeling equipment can be rented as part of your dive package when you dive with a commercial operator)
Open-heel fins (when you go to the marine research stations, only closed-heel snorkeling fins are available from the station. These cause blisters and bleeding after a few days. Open-heel fins are much better for snorkeling, diving or body boarding, but you will need to bring your own)
- Mobile (cell) phone
- Digital camera (with charger)
- MP3 player or iPod
- Electrical converter and plug adapters; Australia runs on 240 volts (these can also be purchased in Australia)
- A few small, lightweight, typically American gifts for your host family
Do not Pack
- Small electrical appliances such as hair dryers and electric toothbrushes (these cannot be used in Australia)
- Meat, vegetable, or nut products; Australia has very strict quarantine laws
NOTE: The cost of clothing in Australia is considerably greater than in the U.S. In fact, the cost of living is generally higher overall, so it is best to take a full set of clothes with you. However, keep in mind that you must keep your luggage within the airline's stated weight restrictions.
Australia’s climate ranges from tropical to cool temperate. Seasons are reversed: summer begins in December and winter begins in June.
This program begins at the end of the Australian winter, just after the spring equinox (a time of rapid climatic change and variable weather patterns). Although uncommon in Brisbane, it is possible that temperatures might approach freezing some nights. Otherwise, the weather in Brisbane at this time is very much like that of coastal California—cool evenings and warm, dry days. As the program moves toward late spring and early summer, the climate shifts; a rise in humidity and temperature is accompanied by evening thunderstorms. The climate at Heron Island, which you will visit at the end of the program, will certainly be warm and humid. Pack serious sun protection; you will be coming from milder conditions in California to Australia’s fierce sun. Rainfall in the area is unpredictable; it’s best to be prepared for rainy weather.
Understanding Your Finances
Your MyEAP Account & Budget
You can change $50 to $100 into Australian currency at a U.S. bank before you leave (this can take weeks), or you can plan to access an ATM at the airport when you land. International airports offer money exchange services, but ATMs are the most convenient and economical way to obtain Australian dollars.
Australian currency is made of colorful plastic; bills of different denominations are different sizes. There are no pennies; amounts are rounded up or down automatically to the nearest 5 or 10 cents.
Financial Aid Students
You should be knowledgeable about your program fees and understand how your financial aid will be applied toward these fees. Disbursements are issued only after you accept and approve the financial aid package and pay the required fees.
You can open a savings or checking account in Australia. Banks located on campus are ANZ and Commonwealth Bank. They are usually open from 9 or 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily and until 5 p.m. on Fridays. Banks are closed on weekends and bank holidays.
Australian checking accounts are more costly than those in the U.S. and are based largely around online bill paying. Paper checks are not widely used. To open an Australian bank account, you need “100 points” of ID documents, a prescribed point system of valid identification.
UCEAP returnees report that the most convenient way to obtain cash is through an ATM. Check on the fees imposed by your bank for using the card internationally and on the fees imposed by the Australian ATM. If you use an ATM not operated by your bank, ATM fees of AUD$2 will usually be charged for each transaction.
You will have access to computers in the library and in learning centers at UQ, including research stations, but not 24/7. Wireless Internet is available at connection points around campus as well as at your lecture venue. If you choose to bring your own laptop, do not forget the power supply, a USB stick, and plug adapter.
As you will be assigned a homestay, it is important to be aware that not all Australian households have Internet access and many that do have connections do not have broadband. In Australia, Internet service providers charge by download quotas so it is unlikely you will be in a home where you have unlimited broadband or wireless access. Many households only have one phone line and, if they use dial-up Internet, your access will be limited. Be prepared to negotiate your access. You may be required to pay a monthly contribution. You may prefer to purchase a pre-pay wireless broadband card that can plug into your USB slot. These are very common in Australia.
Take with you (or know how to access) the e-mail addresses of your UC academic advisors, Financial Aid Office, and Campus EAP Office while abroad.
Note that you will not always have Internet access on field trips; there will be times when you will be out of contact. Give your family a heads up so they will not be alarmed when they don’t hear from you during these periods.
Most students get cell phones, and there are many different carriers in Australia. It may be cheapest to buy a SIM card in Australia rather than getting set up for global roaming. Check that your phone is not locked, preventing it from accepting a different SIM card.
Mail service within Australia is comparable to other world postal operations, and airmail service to the U.S. is good. Airmail letters to the U.S. arrive in about one to two weeks, while air parcels can take longer. There is no Saturday mail service in Australia.
You can have mail sent to you in care of:
University of California EAP
c/o International Programs Office
The School of Biological Sciences
Goddard Building (8)
The University of Queensland, St. Lucia
Queensland 4072, Australia
You will be assigned to a homestay with an Australian family in Brisbane. The School of Biological Sciences will send you instructions for completing an online homestay questionnaire, which will be used to help place you with an Australian family. Complete the homestay questionnaire carefully to help ensure that you are placed in the most appropriate situation for your lifestyle and preferences.
You may not make alternate housing arrangements; all program participants are accommodated in a homestay.
Australia is a multicultural society, and homestay placements are generally with families of varied cultural backgrounds. Homestays are arranged with local Australian families and, just as with any family, issues sometimes arise that need to be addressed. From the beginning of the stay, communicate openly and honestly with your host family about issues that concern you. Be receptive to the host family’s concerns as well. If you encounter a problem in the homestay that you cannot resolve alone, the local program staff is easily accessible and ready to assist in order to ensure a positive experience for all involved (see Your UCEAP Network
in this guide).
Transportation from your homestay to lectures as well as to the group departure point for field trips is at your own expense. Lectures start at 9 a.m. most days, so plan your travel to allow arrival on campus at least 15 minutes prior to the lecture or other activity. If you use public transportation, a "Go Card" (bus pass) will save you money. The staff at UQ will provide you with one to start and you can add funds to it as you go along.
Homestays provide all meals, including packed lunches. Discuss your needs with your host family upon arrival.
During field activities, you will be housed in field stations with full amenities.
Except during periods of independent travel, housing is included in the UCEAP fees (see the UCEAP Student Budget located under the Money Matters
tab on the UCEAP Participants page
Restaurants and cafés in Brisbane are plentiful and widely varied in cuisine, ambience, and price range. Many are closed on Mondays. Reservations (bookings) are essential on weekends at the more popular establishments. Vegetarian meals are readily available.
Inexpensive food is usually available in “milk bars” or takeaways. Sandwiches are available at many small shops during lunch. There are also covered markets several days a week where you can purchase produce, meats, and specialty foods.
Guides to dining out, which are updated frequently, are available at newsstands or bookshops. The Cheap Eats guide series is a useful reference.
Tipping is not customary in Australia. Australians tip only for exceptionally good service, not as a rule. In a good restaurant, a customer might tip 10 percent of the bill. Taxi drivers may be tipped, but it is not expected. Tipping barbers or hairdressers is entirely up to the customer. Rounding up to the next dollar is often an adequate tip.
You can travel within Australia by air, bus, or rail. Air services are excellent and among the best and safest in the world. Low-cost bus service is available throughout the country. Buses are clean, safe, and punctual, and they are used by Australians for national travel. Trains are fast, clean, and comfortable.
It is wise to book all forms of travel in advance, especially around holidays. School holidays occur periodically throughout the academic year, increasing the demand for transportation and accommodations.
Do not hitchhike. Hitchhiking is dangerous, unpredictable, and illegal in Australia. Never accept a ride from strangers. Instead, use reliable transportation to get to your destination.
Students with Disabilities
There are various kinds of international youth travel associations and youth hostel associations in Australia. For information, see the YHA Australia website
Excellent public and private medical facilities are available in major cities. Regional health services with good standards are available in rural areas.
University medical services and other suburban medical centers, hospitals, doctors, etc., are readily accessible. The standard costs for a consultation at the campus clinic is AUD$40. If you visit a 24-hour medical center expect to pay around AUD$80 for a consultation.
Australia also has a high level of professional emergency medical services. Ambulance service staffed by certified emergency medical technicians is the standard throughout most of the country. By calling 000, any person can obtain emergency medical assistance throughout most of Australia.
For more information about staying healthy while traveling, you can also access the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Travelers’ Health web page
If you feel sick or have a medical emergency, seek medical attention. Contact Dr. Ian Tibbetts or Ross Strong at the UQ School of Biological Science, or Kay Harmes at the UCEAP Study Center in Melbourne immediately (see Your UCEAP Network
in this guide for contact information). They can help you in a number of ways—from recommending a clinic to helping you with the UCEAP insurance claim process.
Traffic & Transportation Safety
Basic safety on Australian roads is considered to be excellent. Speeding laws are enforced via a system of cameras and officers. Holiday weekends typically see a rise in roadside fatalities, as most Australians drive long distances to popular beach destinations.
UCEAP Contingency Planning
The University of California, in accordance with applicable
Federal and State law and University policy, does not
discriminate on the basis of race, national origin, religion,
sex, gender identity, pregnancy,* disability, age, medical
condition (cancer-related), ancestry, marital status,
citizenship, sexual orientation, or status as a Vietnam-era
veteran or special disabled veteran. The University also
prohibits sexual harassment. This nondiscrimination policy
covers admission, access, and treatment in University programs
and activities. Inquiries regarding the University’s
student-related nondiscrimination policies may be directed to
the campus Equal Employment Opportunity/Affirmative Action
* Pregnancy includes pregnancy, childbirth, and medical
conditions related to pregnancy or childbirth.