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Southeast Asian Field Biology in Brunei


Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam

Program Description

Brunei is a small (2,200 sq. miles, pop. 400,000) oil-producing nation on the island of Borneo in Southeast Asia.  Because of the availability of revenues from oil, Brunei has elected to conserve its forests rather than converting them to oil palm plantations or exploiting them for the timber trade.  As a consequence, Brunei has become a model for conservation in SE Asia and enjoys largely intact forest ecosystems and an exceptionally rich biodiversity. Students will have the opportunity to experience first-hand the diversity, dynamics, and complexity a tropical evergreen forest ecosystem at the Kuala Belalong Field Studies Center. Students will have the opportunity to learn and use field research skills and will take part in documenting the biodiversity (primarily amphibian and reptile diversity) at these two sites. Participants will also be presented with conservation problems that these ecosystems face (e.g., human population, habitat destruction, and introduced species) and challenged with the exercise of thinking about potential solutions. Students will be introduced to the scientific method and will have the opportunity to design and conduct independent research projects.

The course emphasizes cross-cultural interactions and students will have the opportunity to work with local students, faculty, and conservation workers. Plenty of opportunities will be provided for students to experience a breadth of cultural activities in the host country. Although knowledge of Bhasa language is not a prerequisite, it is expected that all participants engage in informal language learning during the course.

Location Description

KBFSC is located in the Temburong District, Brunei Darussalam, in the Ulu Temburong National Park. It lies on the west bank of the Sungai Belalong nestled in a steep-sided, densely-forested valley about five kilometres upstream from the road head at Batang Duri. The Centre is surrounded by lowland and sharp ridges, covered in mixed-Dipterocarp forest which have never been logged. It is 60 metres above sea level, and the highest point within the designated research area is Bukit Belalong (913 m.a.s.l.).



David McLeod | | Biology


This course will be located in two locations in Brunei.  We will spend the beginning and end of the course on campus at the Universiti Brunei Darussalam in the capital city of Bandar Seri Begawan.  Housing will be provided on the university campus.  The majority of our time will be spent at Kuala Belalong Field Studies Center.  This research station is approximately three hours from the capital city in the province of Temburong and is owned by UBD.  Outstanding laboratory, classroom, housing and dining facilities are set deep in tropical forest along the Belalong river.

Additional Items to Consider

  • A passport valid 6 months beyond our travel dates will be required.
  • No visa is required. A 90-day tourist visa will be obtained upon entry.
  • Routine immunizations are required. Hepatitis A & B and Typhoid are recommended by the CDC. Areas we will visit are not identified as malarial areas. (See:
  • Cell phones that use a SIM card can be used while in Brunei, but coverage at the field station may be limited. Pay-as-you-go phone and internet plans are available for a modest fee in Brunei. It is recommended that you don't bring anything you couldn't bear to loose (including your cell phone).

The course is intended for advanced undergraduate students or graduate students who are interested in biology, ecology, conservation, and environmental studies.

Applicant Criteria

Applicants must have a GPA minimum of 2.5

This program is intended for Biology majors, but applicants from any major who meet the eligibility requirements will be considered.

Application Process

This list serves as an application preview. To apply, students will need to complete the following:

  • Study Abroad Online Application ($25 fee)
  • Short essay 
  • Faculty letter of recommendation
  • Interview with Program Director
  • Official transcript required for non-JMU and first semester transfer students.

Further details and instructions about these application requirements will be available upon log-in. 

Program Closed
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Application Deadline


All dates are tentative and subject to change


BIO 426: Topics in Biology: Tropical Field Biology (3 credits)

Courses listed here are to be used as a general guideline for program curriculum. *All courses are considered pending until approved by the Academic Department, Program, and/or College.


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