• Offered by Biology Teaching and Learning Centre
  • ANU College ANU Joint Colleges of Science
  • Classification Advanced
  • Course subject Biology
  • Academic career PGRD
  • Course convener
    • Dr Craig Moritz
    • Dr Marcel Cardillo
  • Mode of delivery In Person
  • Co-taught Course
  • Offered in Second Semester 2017
    See Future Offerings

This course deals with macroevolution, macroecology and biogeography – patterns of biodiversity at large spatial and temporal scales, and the processes that have generated these patterns. Surprisingly, there are many fundamental questions about biodiversity that remain poorly answered. For example, why are there so many species in the tropics? Did the extinction of dinosaurs pave the way for the rise of mammals? What causes one species to diverge into two? Equally surprisingly to many people, it is possible to test “big-picture” questions like these using a set of basic logical principles and analytical tools, and an ever-expanding database of molecular, geographic and ecological information on the world’s species. The aim of this course is not to present you with facts to memorize, but to equip you with the skills to ask interesting questions about biodiversity, and develop creative and elegant ways to answer them. The course is primarily lecture-based, but two computer workshops give you the chance to learn and apply some of the key analytical tools used in large-scale biodiversity analysis.

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. Identify and describe the principles of phylogenetic reconstruction, including the selection of appropriate characters for generating phylogenetic hypotheses.

2. Understand the relationship between phylogenetics and taxonomy in sufficient depth to be able to construct a robust taxonomy on the basis of established phylogenies.

3. Describe the different mechanisms that maintain reproductive isolation between species, and explain the variety of speciation models that give rise to reproductive isolation.

4. Identify and describe the mechanisms leading to evolutionary radiation and divergence following the extablishment of reproductive barriers.

5. Describe the nature of biogeographical pattern from the local to the global scale, and identify the factors that led to these distributions.

6. Apply critical skills in hypothesis testing using a range of types of information, including the palaeontology, systematics, developmental biology, and molecular data.

7. Be able to access and navigate and interpret evolutionary databases and the scientific literature in order to present a coherent and critical analysis of competing views on evolutionary themes, either orally or in an essay.


Indicative Assessment

Assessment will be based on:

  • Four in-class tests (5% each) )LO 1-5)
  • Tutorial Worksheet (20%) (LO 6,7)
  • Paper review and essay (60%) (LO 6-7)

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 lectures per week and total of three two-hour tutorial classes per semester.

Requisite and Incompatibility

To enrol in this course you must be studying 7609, 7629, 7631, 7632, MBIOS, VBIOS, MBIOT, and VBIOT only. Incompatible with BIOL3206.

Assumed Knowledge

Bachelor degree with knowledge of biology, biodiversity or ecology and evolution


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
2017 $3660
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2017 $4878
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.

Second Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
8180 24 Jul 2017 31 Jul 2017 31 Aug 2017 27 Oct 2017 In Person N/A

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