If you have a passion for discovery and problem-solving then a course in science might be perfect for you. Australia has produced some of the world’s best scientific researchers, who regularly make important discoveries. This makes Australia a popular choice for international students wanting to study science. Science is a large and diverse field, so there are many courses available in the various science disciplines, from chemistry and physics to nanotechnology and marine biology.
For more information about this field, visit the Science and Technology Australia website.
The courses and employment opportunities available will depend on the level of qualification you complete. There are three qualification levels in the sciences:
Vocational Education and Training (VET) qualifications in science offer many practical learning opportunities and are often more applied than science degrees from the higher education sector. The most common science courses offered in the VET sector throughout Australia are certificates and diplomas in laboratory skills, laboratory techniques and laboratory technology, which equip students for employment as technical officers or lab technicians in a range of science-based industries. There are also many specialised course options that lead to more specific careers, including animal technology, biotechnology, environmental monitoring and technology, food science and technology, forensic testing, geoscience, health science and pathology, among others. VET qualifications in science aim to develop high-level technical skills and sound scientific knowledge, and work experience is included in many of the courses. VET qualifications in science can also be used as a pathway into science degrees in the higher education sector, which may be required for more senior scientific and research positions.
Applicants must meet academic and English language entry requirements, which vary between courses, institutions and qualification levels. Some VET courses in science require the completion of prerequisite studies in mathematics and science in secondary school or relevant laboratory experience. For more information about VET qualifications and entry requirements, see Vocational Education.
VET qualifications in science are offered at both metropolitan and regional campuses throughout Australia. You will find courses offered at TAFE institutes, universities with TAFE departments and some private colleges.
Your choice of course will depend on your area of interest and your career goals. If you are unsure about which area of science you are interested in, you might consider a general science course (laboratory technology, for example). If you know the scientific area that interests you, you may wish to select one of the more specific courses (pathology or biotechnology, for example).
Since practical experience is an important aspect of many of the courses in this field, it is important to check that the courses and institutions you are considering have good facilities and provide access to the latest equipment and techniques. The best courses should also have good contacts with industry and employers and be able to assist students to find work experience placements.
Science is a large and diverse field at undergraduate level. Many undergraduate science degrees (the bachelor of science, for example) are quite broad and allow students to explore a number of specialisations. Specialisations usually focus on the traditional academic disciplines, including astronomy, biology, botany, chemistry, geology, physics and zoology. These general courses allow you to enter many different careers in your chosen discipline, but may require further study at the postgraduate level in order to specialise and qualify for specific positions.
For students who have a specific career in mind, there are also a number of more applied science specialisations, including animal science, biotechnology, food science, forensic science, marine science, and medical science. These may be offered as specific degrees (a bachelor of forensic science, for example) or as specialisations within a general bachelor of science degree. You could also pair science with courses like law, commerce or engineering through a double degree. Those who would like to complete further research in their specialisation can complete a bachelor honours degree.
Students who complete more general science degrees, who are aiming to qualify for more senior employment positions or who would like to work as academics may need to complete further study at honours or postgraduate level to improve their employment prospects.
Applicants must meet academic and English language entry requirements, which vary between courses, institutions and qualification levels. Some undergraduate courses in science require the completion of prerequisite studies in mathematics and science in secondary school or relevant work experience. For more information about undergraduate qualifications and entry requirements, see Higher Education — Undergraduate.
Science is a very large field of study, so you can study science-based degrees at almost all Australian universities as well as through some TAFE institutes and colleges. Note that some specialisations may only be available at a limited number of institutions or better executed in certain parts of the country (coastal areas for marine science courses, for example).
Your choice of course will depend on your area of interest and your career goals. If you are unsure about which area of science you are interested in, you might consider a general science course (a bachelor of science, for example) that will allow you to sample a range of science fields. If you know the scientific area that interests you, you may wish to select one of the more specific courses (a bachelor of marine science, for example).
If you are hoping to complete research through an honours degree or a postgraduate research degree after finishing your undergraduate degree, it will be an advantage to study at a university with an established track record in science research.
Science is a popular option at postgraduate level. There are many courses that are based on the pure academic disciplines (biology, chemistry and physics, for example), as well as courses that focus on applied scientific fields (biotechnology, food science, marine science and medical science, for example).
Coursework postgraduate courses include graduate certificates, graduate diplomas and coursework masters degrees. You may be able to find a degree that focuses on your chosen specialisation (a master of biotechnology, for example), or you may be able to study your specialisation within a more general science postgraduate degree (a master of science, for example). Postgraduate double degrees combining science with other areas (a master of science/master of commerce, for example) are available and may enhance graduate career prospects. Bachelor degree graduates may also consider completing a degree that will help them to apply their scientific expertise to employment in another field (becoming a science teacher through a master of science education, for example).
Science also has one of the highest proportions of research students, with around two-thirds of postgraduates undertaking research degrees. This is not surprising, seeing as science is one of the most significant, advanced and well-funded research fields in Australia. Research degrees include research-based masters degrees and research doctorates. Many research students are focused on the traditional science disciplines, but there are also many interdisciplinary and applied research opportunities provided by university research centres. Some research centres bring together research students from different science disciplines to apply their expertise to specific issues such as medical research.
Applicants must meet academic and English language entry requirements, which vary between courses, institutions and qualification levels. Entry to most courses requires the completion of an undergraduate degree in science. For more information about postgraduate qualifications and entry requirements, see Higher Education — Postgraduate.
There are many postgraduate degrees to choose from, which are available at universities around the country. You should note that your chosen specialisation may only be available at a limited number of universities or better executed in certain parts of the country (coastal areas for marine science courses, for example).
If you are considering a research degree, you should look for university departments and schools with an established research program in your area of interest. You should also investigate the support offered to postgraduate research students and possible supervisors.
Science degree graduates work in a diverse range of employment roles across all industries, from mining minerals analysis to environmental testing and medical research. They may work for government organisations, industry, private corporations or universities. Many graduates apply their scientific knowledge to other fields and go into jobs outside the science sector (as science teachers or science journalists, for example).
VET courses in science prepare students for roles as support staff, such as a laboratory technician or a technical assistant. Advancement to more senior scientific or research roles requires additional skills, which can be gained through undergraduate and postgraduate science degrees at universities and other higher education providers.