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Field of Study: Science

After first exploring biodiversity in the classroom, you’ll go out and conduct your own investigation on a Malaysian island. You’ll learn about tropical freshwater and seawater ecosystems and investigate distinct habitats including a mangrove swamp, rainforest, and coral reefs.

Unique study opportunities

  • Embark on a weeklong program field trip to Pulau Tioman, an island off the coast of Malaysia.
  • Conduct scientific research alongside experienced field biologists.
  • Participate in course culture activities and field trips.


Language of Instruction: English

Language Study: Optional Course in Chinese or Indonesian

You may sign up for an optional, non-academic credit bearing language course which you would complete alongside your Biodiversity coursework. You would select either Beginning Chinese or Beginning Indonesian.

The Biodiversity course is taught in English.

Courses and credit

Requirements While Abroad

To successfully complete this program:

  • Take one biodiversity course; split into two components, each worth 6 quarter/4 semester units, for a total of 12 quarter/8 semester UC units; upper division; letter grade required.
  • Participate in all required field and travel activities, including physically active hiking, swimming, and transporting personal belongings in a tropical environment.   
  • Submit a final written report by the deadline after the program ends.

Current Program Courses

With the help of experienced field biologists, you’ll participate in field work, analysis, and discussions each day, followed by a debrief with the group​ each evening. In addition to field research, this course focuses on the study of multiple species-rich habitats through lectures and practical learning. To complete the course, you’ll complete assignments including a quiz, presentation, and required research paper that is due one week after the program term ends.

Field Studies in Biodiversity

This component introduces field biology- the basic techniques involved, sampling design, and basic data gathering and data management. Through local field study sessions, you experience and encounter tropical environs and habitats, namely coastal, mangrove, primary, and secondary forests. The course includes a one-week field trip to the luscious tropical island, Pulau Tioman, off the East coast of Peninsular Malaysia where you would expect to experience unique tropical ecosystems such as rainforest, freshwater stream, mangroves, and the coral reefs under the guidance of experienced field biologists.

Principles of Taxonomy and Systematics

This component introduces taxonomy and systematics, i.e., the science of grouping biodiversity into species, describing the species, and classifying this diversity into higher-level taxa that reflect evolutionary history.

Additional or alternative coursework, internships, or research outside the program are not possible.

Catalogs and resources

Academic culture

The National University of Singapore emphasizes group projects, field research, and class presentations. In this academic environment, you’ll readily be able to meet other students and embark on a deeper exploration of your academic interests.

Teachers in Singapore are highly respected, and relationships between students and teachers are different from those at UC. Students are expected to be polite, never confrontational or demanding. At the same time, many professors in Singapore have been trained in US and European universities. If you approach professors after class, you’ll likely find them friendly and interested in helping. If you have a difference of opinion or want to make suggestions, speak respectfully with the professor privately, out of class.


You’ll earn direct UC credit and grades for all coursework. Grades for the biodiversity course are based on a quiz, presentation, and written report. The written report is due one week after the end of the program. Late papers are not accepted. Failure to turn in the written report by the deadline will result in an F for this course.

Grades for this program are usually received in early September.