Best universities for life sciences degrees in Australia

Explore the top universities in Australia for life sciences degrees using data from the Times Higher Education World University Rankings

Best universities in
Rankings for Students
February 12 2021
what are the best universities for life sciences in Australia?


A degree in the life sciences will prepare you for a career in a specialised scientific field, like agriculture or biotechnology. But the skills you’ll learn on your degree, like problem solving, data analysis and research, are equally transferable to jobs that don’t require a lab coat.  

When researching destinations for your life sciences degree, Australia is worth a look. The country has produced some of the world’s best scientific researchers, such as William Lawrence and William Henry Bragg, inventors of the world’s first X-ray spectroscope, Nobel Prize winner John Eccles, known for his research on the synapse, and Isobel Bennett, marine biologist and prolific author.

At the undergraduate level, most Australian universities offer a bachelor of science, an overarching qualification for the sciences. Within this course you can focus on your preferred scientific field depending on the modules you choose. As well as this, many of the universities also offer more specialised science courses, should you know exactly which field you want to focus on from the start. At the postgraduate level, all the courses are focused, and you will specialise right away.

These are the best universities for agriculture and forestry, biology, sports science or veterinary medicine in Australia. 

 1. University of Melbourne

The University of Melbourne was founded in 1853, it’s the second oldest Australian university, and seven Nobel laureates have taught there. 

Within Melbourne’s bachelor of science degree, students can choose from 40 modules across all areas of science, mathematics, engineering and IT and you can also take courses outside of the sciences to widen your breadth of studies.

There are also some life sciences master's and PhD courses including biotechnology and biosciences where students have to conduct a major research project and access to the Melbourne Biomedical Precinct which provides experience in hospitals, medical research organisations and biotechnology institutes

Melbourne has 10 residential colleges. Separate from your subject department, a college provides accommodation, learning support, pastoral care and a sense of community. It’s a great way for international students, who make up 48 per cent of Melbourne’s student body, to find their feet.

2.  The University of Queensland

There’s a huge range of science subjects to study at The University of Queensland, from agriculture and environmental science, to wildlife biology and biomedicine.

Home to the Great Barrier Reef, Queensland is a great location to study marine biology. The University of Queensland owns two major research stations on the Great Barrier Reef, the Low Isles and Heron Island. Depending on what your major is you’ll get the chance to do fieldwork on the Reef, in the outback or one of Australia’s many national parks.

Undergraduate students are encouraged to take part in research through the Summer or Winter Research project scheme. 

Master's students are able to choose the master's in conservation biology (among many other biological master's courses) which aims to prepare students to work in the field of conservation in government, universities and non-profit organisations. 

Work experience is built into the courses through internships, industry placements and research projects.

3. University of Sydney

Australia’s oldest university, the University of Sydney was founded in 1850, and mixes state of the art research buildings with its historic original campus.

For undergraduate science courses at Sydney, you can choose between the more flexible bachelor of science, which allows you to design your own degree across a range of scientific disciplines, and more specialised courses, such as the bachelor in Taronga Wildlife Conservation, or the bachelor of food and agribusiness.

For students looking to study veterinary science students can choose either the specialist animal health or veterinary science degree, or choose to undertake animal health or veterinary science related programme, or major or minor with other courses. 

Facilities include the Sydney nanoscience hub, the Charles Perkins Centre for medical research, and food science laboratories.

4. Monash University

Named after the engineer, military leader and public administrator Sir John Monash, Monash University was founded in 1958, and is a member of the Group of Eight, Australia’s eight leading research universities.

Students at Monash University come from over 170 countries. Its main campus is in Melbourne, but it also has a presence in Italy, Malaysia, India, South Africa, and China.

As well as the normal flexibility of a bachelor of science, Monash also has a number of science courses that are specialised from the beginning, as well as many joint honours options. One unique offering is the bachelor’s in advanced sciences and global challenges, which combines formal training in leadership, communication and hands on practice in using science to tackle global issues. 

The university undertakes research in three broad areas in the life sciences: ecology and conservation, evolution in a changing world and genetics, genomics, and health. Students are encouraged to take part in research during their degree programmes. 

5.  Australian National University

 Australian National University (ANU) is located in Australia’s capital and largest inland city, Canberra.

ANU is particularly renowned for its courses in the earth sciences, as well as its research on the future of sustainability and conservation.

Within their science on location projects, ANU biologists have been working on everything from rehabilitating koalas rescued after the 2020 bushfires, to identifying rare diseases affecting Australian amphibians.  

ANU offers the bachelor of science to specialise within once you’ve studied a range of fields, as well as more specific course options, such as the bachelor of biotechnology, and bachelor of environment and sustainability.

Its history includes the work of top scientists like Dr Germaine Joplin, who contributed invaluable data and analysis to the field of geology, and Professor Frank Fenner, who oversaw the worldwide eradication of smallpox, and successfully introduced the Myxoma virus to control Australia’s rabbit plague.  

Top universities in Australia for life sciences degrees 2021

Australia Life Sciences Rank 2021  WUR Life Sciences Rank 2021  University City
1  37  University of Melbourne Melbourne
2  =40  The University of Queensland Brisbane
3  52  University of Sydney Sydney
4  =54  Monash University Melbourne
5  =56  Australian National University Canberra
6  =83  The University of Western Australia Perth
7  101–125  James Cook University Townsville City
=8  126–150  University of Adelaide Adelaide
=8  126–150  Macquarie University Sydney
10  151–175  University of Tasmania Hobart
11  176–200  La Trobe University Melbourne
=12  201–250  Curtin University Perth
=12  201–250  Griffith University Brisbane, Gold Coast, Logan
=12  201–250  Queensland University of Technology Brisbane
=12  201–250  RMIT University Melbourne
=12  201–250  University of Technology Sydney Sydney
=12  201–250  Western Sydney University Sydney
=12  201–250  University of Wollongong Wollongong
=19  251–300  Australian Catholic University Sydney
=19  251–300  Deakin University Geelong
=19  251–300  Victoria University Victoria
=22  301–400  University of Canberra Canberra
=22  301–400  Charles Darwin University Casuarina
=22  301–400  Murdoch University Murdoch
=22  301–400  University of Newcastle Callaghan
=22  301–400  Southern Cross University Lismore
=27  401–500  Flinders University Adelaide
=27  401–500  University of the Sunshine Coast Sunshine Coast
29  601–800  Charles Sturt University Bathurst


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