• Offered by Fenner School of Environment and Society
  • ANU College ANU Joint Colleges of Science
  • Course subject Environmental Science
  • Areas of interest Forestry, Geography, Human Ecology, Interdisciplinary Studies - Sustainability, Resource Management and Environmental Science More...
  • Academic career UGRD
  • Course convener
    • Dr Robert Dyball
  • Mode of delivery In Person
  • Co-taught Course
  • Offered in First Semester 2018
    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.


Honours Pathway Option

Subject to the approval of the course convener; students taking this option will be expected to complete additional weekly readings and to be prepared to discuss this advanced material in tutorials.  In addition, students will be expected to make a seminar presentation on one week's reading and to lead the subsequent discussion.  A concise paper must accompany the presentation.  The paper, quality of presentation and quality of subsequent facilitation will all form part of the student's mark (10% of overall assessment).  All other assessment and requirements remain the same

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 basic understanding of Human Ecology, including knowledge of the history and background to the topic
  2. Demonstrate an understanding of key linkages between ecosystem and social processes and how they relate to human-nature interactions, and to integrate this understanding with knowledge drawn from their own degree backgrounds.
  3. Use a basic 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.
  5. Through a range of case studies presented in the latter half of the course, 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 participation and facilitation (10%). Assess the ability to participate in 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
  • Final report (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.


60 hours contact, comprising 24 hours of lectures, 12 hours of tutorials, 6 hours of workshops, and 21 hours in field classes.

Requisite and Incompatibility

To enrol in this course you must have completed 12 units of 1000 level ANTH, ARCH, BIOL, SOCY, SRES or ENVS courses. You are not able to enrol in this course if you have completed ENVS6020.

Preliminary Reading

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

Assumed Knowledge

ENVS1001, ENVS1004 or ENVS1008 highly recommended.

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. 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
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.

First Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
2832 19 Feb 2018 27 Feb 2018 31 Mar 2018 25 May 2018 In Person N/A

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