• 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 Winter Session 2018
    Spring Session 2018
    See Future Offerings

This course develops advanced skills for field studies in plant and animal functional ecology. Through independent 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. The course provides an opportunity for students to apply a wide array of field techniques used in current functional ecology.

Students will develop skills in independent research including project design and execution, data analysis and interpretation and oral and written presentation of results. Students will also engage in supported peer mentoring and peer review processes. The course provides an opportunity for students to apply a wide array of field techniques used in current functional ecology.

This is an Honours Pathway Course.


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

    Other Information

    For Winter Session:  The two week field trip will be held in Singapore during 2-16 July 2018.  Scholarships are available and places are limited.  Please email rsb.studentadmin@anu.edu.au by 28th Feb to register your interest. Special consideration may be given to students who may not have done BIOL2202.  


    For Spring Session:   The two week field trip will be held in the Kosciuszko National Park during 2-15 Dec 2018.  Please email rsb.studentadmin@anu.edu.au by 30th June to register your interest in enrolling in the course.  As an indication the cost for the trip will be $880.  This is additional to the Tuition Fees.  The field cost of $880 covers accommodation, transport and some foods. Payments can be made in 2 instalments of $440 each.   

    Check out this great Video: Functional Ecology field trip to Kosciuszko National Park in December 2016 and the Daintree Rainforest in July 2017

    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.

    Units EFTSL
    6.00 0.12500
    Domestic fee paying students
    Year Fee
    2018 $3660
    International fee paying students
    Year Fee
    2018 $5160
    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.

    Winter Session

    Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
    6821 02 Jul 2018 06 Jul 2018 06 Jul 2018 16 Jul 2018 In Person N/A

    Spring Session

    Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
    9519 02 Dec 2018 07 Dec 2018 07 Dec 2018 15 Dec 2018 In Person N/A

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