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Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam

Program Description

Are you excited about the idea of being wet, muddy, and working hard in the outdoors? Are you interested in conservation and the environment? Do you want to learn and work alongside peers from a different country and culture? Are you looking for some upper level Biology credit?  If so, consider coming to Brunei!

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.  

In this course, students will learn and use field research skills to document and study the rich biodiversity of Brunei. US students will work alongside peers from the Universiti of Brunei and will 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 work alongside their Bruneian peers to conduct independent research at the field site. 

The course emphasizes cross-cultural interactions and students will have the opportunity to work with local students, faculty, and conservation workers. Students will experience a breadth of cultural activities including traditional markets, mosques, visits to a water village, river tours to see the proboscis monkey, and spending time on campus with friends. Bruneian students are fluent in English, but Bhasa language is spoken throughout Borneo (as are many dialects). It is expected that all participants will have opportunity to 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.

Costs included in this course include all meals while on campus or at the field station. It is relatively easy for vegetarians and others with dietary restrictions to eat the food provided through the campus dining and KBFSC while in Brunei.

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 is extremely 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).

  • This program is conducted in a tropical ecosystem. Participants should be in good physical health and excited to work outdoors in all kinds of conditions (wet/dry/hot/cool). The field station is located within a river valley and participants will be hiking forest trails that are often muddy, slippery, and steep. If you do not like to work hard outdoors while getting wet and dirty, this program is not for you.

  • This course is designed for advanced undergraduate and graduate students. Exceptional applications from students entering their sophomore year will be considered.

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 
  • Interview with Program Director
  • Official transcript required for non-JMU students

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

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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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