• Offered by Environmental Management & Development Program
  • ANU College ANU College of Asia and the Pacific
  • Classification Advanced
  • Course subject Environmental Management & Development
  • Areas of interest Environmental Studies
  • Academic career PGRD
  • Course convener
    • Roger Beckmann
  • Mode of delivery In Person
  • Offered in First Semester 2014
    See Future Offerings

This course aims to give students a sound background in the biological and physical systems that create the natural environment of our planet. This basic scientific knowledge is essential for analysing any environmental or resource management problem.

The course starts with an introduction to the uniqueness of planet Earth, and continues with an investigation of Earth's most special feature, life. Students will briefly revisit the laws of thermodynamics and the concepts of systems, feedback and dynamic equilibria before examining global processes, biogeochemical cycles and the interactions between biota and the non-living environment.

The primary focus of the course is biological principles, including the basic chemistry of life (mainly respiration and photosynthesis); terrestrial and marine environments; classification; evolution and change; populations, communities and ecosystems; bioaccumulation; reproductive strategies; biodiversity; population dynamics and harvesting; environmental variability, succession and disturbance. The course also includes modules on soil, agroecology and atmospheric modification.

The course covers a wide field of different science-based disciplines, presented by an experienced communicator, for students who are not scientific specialists, but who possess basic numeracy and an understanding of and interest in environmental issues.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

After finishing the course, and completing the necessary requirements associated with it, a student who has studied effectively will be able to:
  • Appreciate the uniqueness of planet Earth and the services it provides
  • Understand and use accurately the key terms and concepts in environmental science, in particular the movements of matter and energy, the role of the carbon cycle, photosynthesis and respiration.
  • Identify the planet's major climatic regions, biomes and marine zones.
  • Understand basic ecological principles, in particular population dynamics, competition, trophic relationships, diversity, ecosystem balance and resilience.
  • Appreciate both the strength and fragility of living systems.
  • Assess primary productivity in different ecosystems.
  • Gain an elementary understanding of marine ecology
  • Understand the significance of soil to human society, and be familiar with the major problems affecting soil sustainability and its effect on agricultural productivity and on other ecosystems.
  • Manage ecosystems and reserves with greater skill, using knowledge of species interactions and feedback loops.
  • Understand the composition and function of the atmosphere, and appreciate the linkage between atmospheric composition, climate and human well-being.
  • Contribute informed, accurate and scientifically correct input to discussions about environmental management, climate change, and the biophysical basis of society.

Other Information

A brief field trip is sometimes included.

The course is particularly innovative in its multi-disciplinary approach and its coverage of technical issues for those without a specialist background.

Indicative Assessment

Two in-class tests (20% and 25%), essay (15%), final exam (40%).

The ANU uses Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. While the use of Turnitin is not mandatory, the ANU highly recommends Turnitin is used by both teaching staff and students. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website.


Three contact hours per teaching week. About 2-3 hours additional work per week, on average, would be necessary for reading, revising and doing required assignments. 

Prescribed Texts

No prescribed texts, but a reading list is provided, along with detailed hand-outs written by the lecturer.

Preliminary Reading

Several lists will be provided during the course, which include recommended reading, reliable websites, and sources of further information.

Assumed Knowledge

Some understanding of basic high school science concepts is recommended.


Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.  

If you are a domestic graduate coursework or international student you will be required to pay tuition fees. Students continuing in their current program of study will have their tuition fees indexed annually from the year in which you commenced your program. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 units

If you are an undergraduate student and have been offered a Commonwealth supported place, your fees are set by the Australian Government for each course. At ANU 1 EFTSL is 48 units (normally 8 x 6-unit courses). You can find your student contribution amount for each course at Fees.  Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.

6.00 0.12500
Domestic fee paying students
Year Fee Description
1994-2003 $1338
2014 $3582
2013 $3582
2012 $3582
2011 $3576
2010 $3570
2009 $3570
2008 $3402
2007 $3132
2006 $2850
2005 $2850
2004 $2160
International fee paying students
Year Fee
1994-2003 $3672
2014 $4146
2013 $4140
2012 $4140
2011 $4134
2010 $4134
2009 $4002
2008 $4002
2007 $3864
2006 $3864
2005 $3864
2004 $3864
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

ANU utilises MyTimetable to enable students to view the timetable for their enrolled courses, browse, then self-allocate to small teaching activities / tutorials so they can better plan their time. Find out more on the Timetable webpage.

The list of offerings for future years is indicative only.
Class summaries, if available, can be accessed by clicking on the View link for the relevant class number.

First Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
3690 17 Feb 2014 07 Mar 2014 31 Mar 2014 30 May 2014 In Person N/A

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