• Offered by Fenner School of Environment and Society
  • ANU College ANU Joint Colleges of Science
  • Classification Transitional
  • Course subject Environmental Science
  • Areas of interest Forestry, Geography, Human Ecology, Interdisciplinary Studies - Sustainability, Resource Management and Environmental Science More...
  • Academic career PGRD
  • Course convener
    • Prof Xuemei Bai
  • Mode of delivery In Person
  • Offered in First Semester 2014
    See Future Offerings

The course applies the principles of ecosystem sciences to the study of the human environment. The emphasis is on the significance and function of ecosystems, how humans have affected these systems over time, and what are the opportunities of and barriers to making positive changes. Dynamical systems thinking and the concept of coupled social ecological system is introduced as a powerful means of comprehending the behaviour of these complex situations. Human-nature interactions over human history are critically reviewed, including hunter gatherer societies, early agricultural societies and modern globalised urban and industrial societies. The theories covered are exemplified by case studies on contemporary resource and environmental management practices, mainly from but not limited to Australia and Asia Pacific. Field trips allow students to experience first hand the complexity of these human-ecological interactions and the challenges of managing them sustainably. This course lays the foundations for later year courses in human ecology.


Note: Graduate students attend joint classes with undergraduates but are assessed separately.

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. Demonstrate a good understanding of Human Ecology, including knowledge of the history and background to the topic
  2. Demonstrate an understanding of key ecosystem and social processes and how they relate to human-nature interactions, and to intergrate this understanding with knowledge drawn from their own undergraduate, workplace or research backgrounds
  3. Use systems approach to ‘get at' an understanding of the complex, multi-scaled, interactions that characterize human-ecological situations, and their associated problems
  4. Apply this understanding in to historical and current strategies for human use of materials and energy and the ecological consequences of those strategies in the context of real field case and to their research programs
  5. Understand both opportunities of and barriers to making positive changes in human-nature interaction.

Indicative Assessment

Regular attendance and participation in classwork and fieldtrips is required. Students who fail to submit set work by the due date or fail to participate in classes and field trips may be excluded from examination.


Assessment will be based on:

  • Tutorial contribution (10%). Assess the ability to participate in, present and facilitate discussions that draw in a diverse range of knowledge backgrounds on some key issues in Human Ecology
  • Tutorial blogs (15%).Assesses the ability of students to command basic concepts from lectures and course readings as well as other materials, and engage in discussions with peer students.
  • Fieldtrip assessment (35%). Brings the systems approach techniques to bear on a real case study that exhibits many of the process and conflicts evident in complex human-environment situations’
  • Research Paper (40%). Assess the extent to which the student has mastered the key themes of the course and their implications and can bring them to bear on a research topic of their choice.

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 hours contact, comprising 26 hours of lectures, 12 hours of tutorials, 6 hours of workshops, and 21 hours in field classes.

Preliminary Reading

Boyden, S. (2004) The Biology of Civilisation: understanding human culture as a force in nature. Sydney: UNSW Press.

Areas of Interest

  • Forestry
  • Geography
  • Human Ecology
  • Interdisciplinary Studies - Sustainability
  • Resource Management and Environmental Science
  • Biological Anthropology
  • Environmental Studies
  • Human Sciences
  • Population Studies


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 $2520
2004 $2160
International fee paying students
Year Fee
1994-2003 $3606
2014 $3762
2013 $3756
2012 $3756
2011 $3756
2010 $3750
2009 $3618
2008 $3618
2007 $3618
2006 $3618
2005 $3618
2004 $3618
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
3550 17 Feb 2014 07 Mar 2014 31 Mar 2014 30 May 2014 In Person N/A

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