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Intensives & field units

Develop your technical and practical skills in the field.

Professional experience

  • SID300 - Professional Practice in Science and SID500 - Professional Practice in Environmental Management both consist of a professional placement (120 contact hours) which allows you to expand your professional networks, to learn new and relevant technical skills and to gain a better understanding of workplace structure, process and ethics.

    There are several placement options with both of these units including field intensives in Brazil, the Galapagos Islands, Indonesia and Australia.

International intensives

  • Galapagos Islands Field Intensive (GIFI): evolution, conservation and management.

    A unique hands-on experience learning about evolution, island biogeography, biodiversity and endemicity. Learn about the main threats to islands and what is being done for their conservation and management.

    In partnership with the Charles Darwin Foundation on the Galapagos Islands.

    This intensive can be taken under SID305 and SID505.

    Date: This intensive is offered annually in Semester 3
    Numbers: 14 places available
    Duration: 2 weeks plus online study before and after intensive
    Application date: To be advised

    Download the Galapagos Islands Field Intensive flyer (PDF, 610.38 KB)

  • Brazilian Amazon Field Intensive (BAFI): Wildlife research, management and conservation.

    Work on wildlife research, harvest, management and protection with a focus on freshwater turtles during this two-week field studies placement in Manaus and the Rio Trombetas Biological Reserve, Amazonas, Brazil.

    Learn about the issues faced by the over-harvesting of species in the Amazon, and immerse yourself in the research behind more than 30 years of turtle management and protection. You will be able to apply this knowledge to other regions around the globe where wildlife is used and managed by traditional communities. 

    Initial lectures and tutorials will be based at the National Institute for Amazon Research (INPA – Manaus). Lecture themes range from general (Amazon ecosystem, limnology, hydrology, wildlife threats) to specific (Amazon vertebrate fauna, turtle biology and conservation).

    The practical component of the course will take place at the Biological Reserve of the Trombetas River (REBIO Trombetas).

    Also, there will be compulsory pre-and post-trip activities undertaken online.

    Students with interest in Portuguese will have the opportunity to improve their language skills, both written and oral. Please mote that bilingual skills are not a prerequisite for enrolment.

    This opportunity is offered in partnership with the National Institute for Amazon Research (INPA) and the Rio Trombetas Biological Reserve.

    This intensive can be taken under SID305 and SID505.

    Date: Offered annually in Summer Semester
    Numbers: 16 places available
    Duration: Two weeks plus online study before and after intensive
    More Information:

  • Eastern Indonesian Field Intensive (EIFI): Rural agricultural livelihoods

    If your interest lies in natural resource management, livelihoods and rural development issues and practice the Eastern Indonesian Field Intensive (EIFI) is an excellent opportunity for you.

    You'll work on real issues in rural communities in eastern Indonesia during this two-week field studies placement in West Timor, Indonesia.

    Nusa Cendana University, Kupang, West Timor, Indonesia.

    Contact: or 08 8946 6355
    Date: Not currently offered
    Numbers: 7 places available
    Duration: 15 days plus online study
    Application date: TBA
    Funding: To be confirmed

  • Central Java Field Intensive (CJFI): Tropical biodiversity and sustainability

    This two-week field intensive focuses on a project in tropical zoology, tropical botany, tropical biodiversity or biodiversity management.& The CJFI presents a unique cross-cultural international learning experience.

    You will study and research under the supervision of an academic staff member in the Faculty of Biology at Gadjah Mada University (UGM), Yogyakarta, Java, Indonesia. UGM is one of Indonesia’s most respected universities. 

    The Central Java Field Intensive is available as both an undergraduate and master level unit. Students from universities other than CDU can attend through cross-institutional enrolment into the unit.

    Assessments will be marked by CDU staff, while UGM staff will teach and mentor students throughout the intensives and provide feedback and guidance on assessment items.

    There is also an option of taking a one-week language and culture course available before the start of the intensive, offered on campus at the UGM Language Centre.


    Contact: or 08 8946 6355
    Date: Study period 2, July 2020
    Numbers: Minimum of 5 and maximum of 12 places available
    Duration: 14 days (option of additional week for language training)
    Applications due date: contact Penny Wurm
    Funding: New Colombo Plan Scholarships (terms and conditions apply)
    More information:

Darwin-based intensives

  • This unit provides practical experience in a range of flora and fauna survey techniques including:

    • Elliot
    • pitfall and camera trapping
    • visual survey
    • animal handling
    • documenting vegetation
    • plant identification techniques.

    You'll attend a five-day field intensive, with preparatory online activities and assignments before and after the trip.

    Learning activities and assignments focus on sampling design, survey and monitoring in the field, and compilation and analyse of data.

    The unit provides a basis for further study and professional practice in areas of environmental management and develops skills commonly used for environmental assessment.

    Date: Semester 2, mid-semester break
    Numbers: unlimited
    Duration: Five days plus online study
    Enrolment: Standard enrolment procedures 
    More information: 
    ENV209 Unit Catalogue

  • This unit provides the opportunity to gain practical experience in a range of water and sediment sampling and analysis techniques.

    A significant component of the unit is conducted through a compulsory five-day field and laboratory intensive, with online activities and assignments before and after the intensive.

    During the intensive, you'll have an opportunity to carry out sampling and design activities in the field, and analyses of samples in the laboratory.

    This unit provides a basis for further study across broad areas of environmental management and develops field and laboratory-based skills commonly used for environmental assessment.

    Semester: Semester 2, mid-semester break
    Numbers: unlimited
    Duration: Five days plus online study
    Enrolment: Standard enrolment procedures 
    More information:
     ENV210 Unit Catalogue

  • This unit brings together the theatrical concepts of landscape ecology with spatial analysis techniques from remote sensing and GIS to address landscape scale applications of relevance to natural resource management.

    Landscape ecology is concerned with spatial and temporal patterns in ecosystems and their influence on system functioning.

    This course utilises the Google Earth engine processing environment for handling large datasets and for analysing trends in rich time-series. Basic Javascript programming is also covered.

    Semester: Semester 3
    More information:

  • This unit explores the synergies between natural resource-based enterprise development and local and Indigenous livelihoods.

    It features a five-day intensive with a two day overnight fieldtrip to experience first-hand natural resource-based enterprise in a variety of cultural, environmental and commercial settings.

    Date: Semester 3, 16-20 September 2019
    Numbers: 20 places available
    Duration: 5 day field intensive including 2 day overnight field trip 
    Applications: Email Natasha for a registration form. For CDU students normal enrolment processes apply.
    More information:

  • This unit focusses on the use of DNA-based approaches to understand the ecology of microorganisms.

    Through the use of a case study approach and hands-on laboratory experiences you will be introduced to the current techniques used to measure how microorganisms respond to changes in the environment.

    Semester: Semester 3
    Dates: To be confirmed
    Numbers: 25 places available
    Duration: Two weeks (10 days) plus online study
    Enrolment: Standard enrolment procedures 
    More information:

  • This program introduces you to the rapidly evolving application of remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS), commonly known as drones or UAVs.

    This technology is now widely used in the environment sector and a diversity of other vocations, including disaster and emergency management, mineral resource extraction, agriculture, and media.

    The ability to fly RPAS is becoming a valuable skill and the market for RPAS services is predicted to grow ten-fold over the next decade.

    Undertaking this course will give you the licensing, knowledge-base and practical skills to operate RPAS safely for commercial use.

    This intensive can be taken under SID305 and SID505.

    Date: 1 - 12 July, 2019; not offered in 2020
    Numbers: 20 places available
    Duration: Two weeks plus online study before and after intensive
    Application date: To be confirmed

    Download the Remotely Piloted Aircraft flyer (PDF, 492.55 KB).

Remote Australia intensives

  • National Collaborative Australian Postgraduate Sea Training Alliance Network (CAPSTAN) is a national postgraduate at-sea training initiative on CSIRO’s Marine National Facility research vessel RV Investigator.

    As a subscriber to the CAPSTAN program CDU have secured two places for Master of Environmental Management students whose interests and skills are in marine science.

    Contact:  or 08 8946 6355
    Semester: Semester 1
    Start date: 29 April 2019
    Numbers: Two places available
    Duration: 10 days
    Due date for applications: contact coordinator
    More info: CAPSTAN

  • This advanced ecology unit focuses on the unique characteristics and challenges of studying ecology and managing environments in the Australian arid zone.

    Starting the unit at CDU's Alice Springs campus, you will take part in a seven-day field intensive during which you will be active participants in field-based research that contributes to ecological understanding of desert environments.

    Contact: or 08 8959 5218
    Semester: Study period 2
    Numbers: 20 places available
    Duration: Seven days plus online study
    More information:

  • This unit introduces the tropical savanna biome and landscapes of northern Australia.

    You will develop a range of skills in field survey and data collection, management and analysis.

    Central to the unit is a ten-day field program, during which students will investigate environmental gradients and ecosystem function by assessing landforms, soil and vegetation. The field intensive starts at CDU's Casuarina campus.

    Contact: or 08 8946 7103
    Semester: Study period 2
    Numbers: 20 places available
    Duration: 10 days plus online study
    More information:

  • This unit focuses on applying understanding of aquatic ecology to address key management issues in the context of current policy and management frameworks.

    The unit explores the perspectives of a wide range of stakeholders and critically evaluates natural resource management in aquatic ecosystems, particularly through a 2-3 day field trip to the jointly managed Kakadu National Park.
    Semester: 2
    Duration: 2-3 days
    Enrollment: Standard enrollment procedure
    More Information:


Other opportunities

  • This unit provides an introduction to ecology at the population, community and ecosystems levels.

    You'll have the opportunity to learn field techniques and apply your understanding of ecological theory during a three day field component.

    Date: Semester 1
    Numbers: unlimited
    Duration: Three days plus weekly online and/or classroom activities throughout semester 
    Enrolment: Standard enrolment procedures 
    More information:
     ENV201 Unit Catalogue

  • Building on ENV201, this unit develops theoretical and applied knowledge in identifying ecological issues for the repair of degraded land and management of biota.

    You will carry out a field exercise to compare disturbed and undisturbed vegetation communities. This can be carried out with internal students at a site near Darwin or remotely, including interstate.

    Semester: Semester 2
    Numbers: unlimited
    Duration: 12-week unit with field activity of approximately two days
    Enrolment: Standard enrolment procedures
    More information:

  • The one-year Honours course (two years part-time) provides an opportunity for you to focus on a particular area of interest and gain experience in project management.

    You can elect to do a field-based project and obtain training in research techniques and principles, develop advanced analysis and problem solving skills, and develop skills to effectively communicate scientific information in written and oral formats.

  • The annual Bare Sand Island Sea Turtle Research Field Camp is open to all volunteers from CDU and the general public. Participation in the field work is geared to the individual's capabilities, previous experience and expectations.

    To gain credit for the Bare Sand Island field work, you need to enrol in SID300 Professional Practice in Science and complete 120 hours of work towards a project based on your Bare Sand Island fieldwork.

    To ensure you to meet SID300 field work requirements will need to discuss project options with the field leader and unit coordinator.

    More information: AusTurtle Website

  • You can combine study with adventure and enrich your CDU degree by taking advantage of one of the mobility or exchange programs that are currently on offer around the world.

    Please visit Global Mobility to explore opportunities and see our world-wide partner institutions.