Studying online

There are now 2 possible online modes for units:

Units with modes Online timetabled and Online flexible are available for any student to self-enrol and study online.

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Unit Overview


This unit explores both the central and peripheral nervous systems of a range of aquatic animals (invertebrates, cartilaginous fishes, bony fishes and marine mammals) in the context of the neural bases of behaviour. Sensory, motor and integrative parts of the central nervous system are examined to challenge students about how animals communicate, navigate, orient themselves in the water column and how they find food and avoid predation. The physical characteristics of the environment and the neurobiological constraints placed on behaviour are investigated, drawing upon examples from both shallow water and the deep sea. Emphasis is placed on sensory ecology or the way in which animals see, smell, feel, hear, taste and electrically and magnetically sense their aquatic environment. Sensory systems of specific models are explored as an integrated whole and examined using the latest morphological, physiological and molecular techniques. Students are also exposed to ways of translating neurobiological research into social, environmental, economic and policy outcomes.

6 points

Students are able to (1) gain an understanding of the physical environment in which marine animals live; (2) gain an understanding of the central and peripheral nervous systems of a range of marine vertebrates and invertebrates; (3) gain in-depth knowledge of the currently known senses—vision, audition, chemoreception, electroreception, magnetoreception and lateral line; (4) appreciate and understand the neural mechanisms underlying behaviour, adaptation and plasticity; (5) analyse complex sensory systems and behaviors; (6) gain a basic understanding of the morphological, physiological, molecular and behavioural techniques currently used to explore neural processing and cognition; and (7) undertake hypothesis-driven practical research, working collaboratively, to plan projects and to gather and analyse data ethically.


Indicative assessments in this unit are as follows: (1) a practical book write-up; (2) a scientific report; and (3) a written theory examination. Further information is available in the unit outline.

Student may be offered supplementary assessment in this unit if they meet the eligibility criteria.

Unit Coordinator(s)
Professor Shaun Collin
Unit rules
enrolment in
the Master of Biological Science (72520)
or the Master of Science (70630)
or the Master of Biomedical Science (71520)
or the Bachelor of Science (Honours) (BH004)
Contact hours
two weeks of intensive delivery prior to the commencement of semester 1. Classes run in week 7 (11.02.2019) and week 8 (18.02.2019) with a final examination scheduled during semester 1 (Mid-May)
  • The availability of units in Semester 1, 2, etc. was correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change.
  • All students are responsible for identifying when they need assistance to improve their academic learning, research, English language and numeracy skills; seeking out the services and resources available to help them; and applying what they learn. Students are encouraged to register for free online support through GETSmart; to help themselves to the extensive range of resources on UWA's STUDYSmarter website; and to participate in WRITESmart and (ma+hs)Smart drop-ins and workshops.
  • Unit readings, including any essential textbooks, are listed in the unit outline for each unit, one week prior the commencement of study. The unit outline will be available via the LMS and the UWA Handbook one week prior the commencement of study. Reading lists and essential textbooks are subject to change each semester. Information on essential textbooks will also be made available on the Essential Textbooks. This website is updated regularly in the lead up to semester so content may change. It is recommended that students purchase essential textbooks for convenience due to the frequency with which they will be required during the unit. A limited number of textbooks will be made available from the Library in print and will also be made available online wherever possible. Essential textbooks can be purchased from the commercial vendors to secure the best deal. The Student Guild can provide assistance on where to purchase books if required. Books can be purchased second hand at the Guild Secondhand bookshop (second floor, Guild Village), which is located on campus.
  • Contact hours provide an indication of the type and extent of in-class activities this unit may contain. The total amount of student work (including contact hours, assessment time, and self-study) will approximate 150 hours per 6 credit points.