• Offered by Biology Teaching and Learning Centre
  • ANU College ANU Joint Colleges of Science
  • Course subject Biology
  • Areas of interest Plant Science, Zoology, Evolution and Ecology, Biodiversity Conservation
  • Academic career UGRD
  • Course convener
    • Prof Adrienne Nicotra
  • Mode of delivery In Person
  • Offered in Spring Session 2016
    See Future Offerings

This course introduces students to field studies in plant and animal functional ecology. Through directed research projects students explore how diverse organisms respond to conditions in their environments and acquire the resources they need to survive, grow and reproduce. The course location will vary among years, but in each year the same theoretical principles will be explored. By exploring these principles in plants and animals simultaneously students will develop an understanding of the differences and commonalities among organisms. Students will develop skills in research including project design and execution, data analysis and interpretation and oral and written presentation of results. Students will also be exposed to a wide array of field techniques used in current ecology.

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. Have an understanding of the commonalities and differences in the way animals and plants cope with environmental conditions and acquire the resources needed for growth and reproduction
  2. Literature skills to identify and critically evaluate the current state of knowledge about a specific research question in functional ecology
  3. Formulation of testable hypotheses based on an understanding of the research literature
  4. Practical skills in functional ecological research
  5. Ability to conduct research independently
  6. Ability to collaborate as a group to reach research goals and to mentor and support learning in other students
  7. Skills in scientific communication, including written communication and oral presentation, including mentoring and guiding other students
  8. Ability to interpret data against original hypotheses and knowledge of the literature, and suggest avenues for future research

Other Information

Places in this course are limited for logistical reasons.  Please email rsb.studentadmin@anu.edu.au to obtain an application for an expression of interest.  Applications are due by April 18th. 

As an indication, the cost for the two weeks field trip (4-16 Dec 2016) in the Kosciusko National Park will be $880 (GST inclusive).  Payment can be made in 2 instalments.  First payment ($440) to be paid by 31 August and second payment ($440) by 30 November.

Indicative Assessment

Assessment will be based on:
  • Field notebook: students will keep a field notebook containing notes from lectures and directed field problems, data, and records of results and conclusions. Students will also be expected to answer reflective questions on their learning throughout the course, time for this will be allotted during the quizzes). Notebook will be assessed twice during the course (30%, LO 1-8)
  • Final report: each student will write up their independent project in the form of a scientific paper. This will be due one week after course completion. (40%, LO 1-8)
  • Peer mentoring and direct research project: Students will be assessed on their preparation and delivery and the support they provide to the 2nd year students directed field problems (20%, LO 4-7)
  • Presentation: each student will present their independent project to the group (10%, LO 5-8)

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.


Overall there will be about 75 hours contact with teaching staff plus about 50 hours group and individual work.

Requisite and Incompatibility

To enrol in this course you must have completed 96 units towards a degree including BIOL2203.

You will need to contact the Biology Teaching and Learning Centre to request a permission code to enrol in this course.

Preliminary Reading

Reading materials will be available online prior to commencing of the course

Readings will consist of articles from the primary literature. Course will travel with a library of relevant texts.

Assumed Knowledge

Basic understanding of biology, especially ecology and evolution, commensurate with successful completion of second year biology.


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. Tuition fees are indexed annually. 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
2016 $3276
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2016 $4368
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.

Spring Session

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
9585 14 Nov 2016 02 Dec 2016 02 Dec 2016 09 Feb 2017 In Person N/A

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