• 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 Autumn Session 2017
    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 ecology.

Learning Outcomes

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

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

  1. 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 collaborate as a group to reach research goals
  6. Skills in scientific communication, including written communication and oral presentation.
  7. 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 express your interest in enrolling in this course. Permission codes will be issued on a rolling basis until course is filled. Places are not guaranteed until a $500 (non-refundable) deposit is paid.

As an indication, the cost for the two weeks field trip (26 June to 9 July 2017) in the Daintree Rainforest will be $1500 ex Cairns (GST inclusive).  You will be responsible for getting to Cairns. Fieldtrip payment can be made in 3 instalments at $500 ea (GST inclusive) and is due in full by June 1. Limited financial aid will be available on a need and merit basis; more details will be provided following expressions of interest.

Check out this great Video: Functional Ecology field trip to Kosciuszko National Park of the December 2016 Functional Ecology undergraduate field trip, made by RSB's own Pip Beale.

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. Notebook will be assessed twice during the course 25% (LO 1-7)
  • Final report: each student will select one directed field problem to write up in the form of a scientific paper. This will be due one week after course completion. 30% (LO 1-7)
  • Presentations: Students will present results of directed field problems as a group with each presentation worth ~4% - total of 25% (LO 5-7)
  • Mid and end of course quizzes: Two one hour quizzes of lecture material 10% each - total of 20% (LO 1,3,6,7)

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.


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 successfully completed BIOL1009 and/or BIOL1003 or have permission from the course convener.

Preliminary Reading

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

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

Assumed Knowledge

Basic understanding of biology, especially ecology and evolution, commensurate with successful completion of first 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
2017 $3444
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2017 $4590
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.

Autumn Session

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
5761 26 Jun 2017 30 Jun 2017 30 Jun 2017 09 Jul 2017 In Person N/A

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