• Offered by Fenner School of Environment and Society
  • ANU College ANU Joint Colleges of Science
  • Course subject Environmental Science
  • Areas of interest Forestry, Geography, Interdisciplinary Studies - Sustainability, Resource Management and Environmental Science, Human Sciences
  • Academic career UGRD
  • Course convener
    • Dr Philip Gibbons
  • Mode of delivery In Person
  • Co-taught Course
  • Offered in First Semester 2014
    See Future Offerings

An ability to read and understand the landscape is integral to understanding ecology and is an important precursor to the conservation and sustainable management of forests, woodlands and farmland.


As a southern hemisphere continent that has been geologically stable for millennia, Australia has developed a unique combination of landforms, regolith, soils and vegetation. The factors important to the evolution of the Australian landscape and the processes by which these form a sustainable and regenerative system are the focus of this course.


Geological, geomorphological, ecological and biogeochemical processes form the basis of an analysis of how vegetation communities, landforms and the mantle of regolith and soils form across the landscape. The roles of biota, disturbance and competition are integral to this analysis. Soils cannot form in the absence of biota, particularly vegetation, and of course, vegetation does not exist in nature without soils, leading to parallel evolution. Modules include: the reproductive biology and growth habits of eucalypts (as an example of vegetation); eucalypt biogeography and adaptation to Australian environmental conditions; the weathering of underlying geology; erosion and deposition of materials in the terrestrial landscape; the development of the regolith mantle, and ultimately the formation of soils on the surface.


This is a hands-on course with a substantial practical component. Students reinforce and extend concepts presented in lectures through a coordinated set of field exercises located in Canberra Nature Parks, Namadgi National Park, the ANU Kioloa field station and the Murramarang National Park. Students apply their knowledge in a major project to collect data across a landscape and synthesise the results in a model explaining the distribution of vegetation and soils at a range of scales. 


Honours Pathway Option

Subject to the approval of the course convener; students taking this option will be expected to complete alternative weekly readings and to be prepared to discuss this advanced material in tutorials and incorporate it into their major assignment/s.

Learning Outcomes

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

On satisfying the requirements of this course, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

1. Describe the classification of major Australian soils and vegetation types, their geographical occurrence and explain factors controlling their distribution at a range of scales
2. Apply eucalypt taxonomy and explain the reproductive biology and growth habits of eucalypts
3. Explain and compare plant adaptations to Australian environmental conditions
4. Describe and analyse patterning and processes in vegetation types and landscapes and synthesise the results to explain biogeography
5. Analyse and compare models of succession describing vegetation and soil response to natural and anthropogenic disturbances
6. Critically assess information sources, synthesise an evidenced based argument and communicate findings to audiences in appropriate ways.

Indicative Assessment

  • Short reports of field practicals (40%; LO 1,2,3,4,6,)
  • Kioloa field trip report (30%; LO 1,2,3,4,)
  • Final open book exam (30%: LO 1,2,3,4,5,6,)

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.


65 contact hours, comprising lectures, tutorials and fieldwork

Requisite and Incompatibility

To enrol in this course you must have completed 48 units towards a degree. You are not able to enrol in this course if you have completed ENVS2016, SRES2019 or ENVS2019.

Prescribed Texts

Students doing this course are strongly encouraged to purchase Costermans, L. 2006. Trees of Victoria and Adjoining Areas. Costermans Publishing ($18) OR  the more comprehensive Costermans, L. 2009. Native Trees and Shrubs of South-Eastern Australia. CSIRO Publishing, Collingwood ($45).




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 $1650
2014 $2946
2013 $2946
2012 $2946
2011 $2946
2010 $2916
2009 $2916
2008 $2916
2007 $2520
2006 $2520
2005 $2298
2004 $1926
International fee paying students
Year Fee
1994-2003 $3390
2014 $3762
2013 $3756
2012 $3756
2011 $3756
2010 $3750
2009 $3618
2008 $3618
2007 $3618
2006 $3618
2005 $3450
2004 $3450
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
4010 17 Feb 2014 07 Mar 2014 31 Mar 2014 30 May 2014 In Person N/A

Responsible Officer: Registrar, Student Administration / Page Contact: Website Administrator / Frequently Asked Questions