• Class Number 3703
  • Term Code 3030
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • Prof Susan Howitt
    • Prof Susan Howitt
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 24/02/2020
  • Class End Date 05/06/2020
  • Census Date 08/05/2020
  • Last Date to Enrol 02/03/2020
SELT Survey Results

This online course will develop students’ scientific reasoning, writing and reflection skills through a structured program of activities. Students will engage in a cycle of analysis, writing and reporting on contemporary biological literature to evaluate argument, methodology, evidence and claims. This will build to a critical investigation and evaluation of selected research contexts to compare and contrast the diverse research and theory approaches used in contemporary biology. This course will expose students through specific biological contexts to deeply consider:

  • the nature of science; 
  • the contestability of scientific knowledge;
  • science as a profession, enacted by real people;
  • how scientist evaluate evidence through critical reading & analysis;
  • how scientists collect, use and communicate evidence to develop and support arguments.

Learning Outcomes

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

On satisfying the requirements of this course, students will be able to:
  1. Engage in an independent investigation and evaluation of selected biology research topics.
  2. Critically analyse and evaluate research literature and communicate the significant research findings.
  3. Apply and reflect on professional and personal standards of conduct in undertaking and communicating scientific research.
  4. Use a range of genres to communicate scientific research and information effectively.

Research-Led Teaching

This is a fully online course that supports students to develop skills and experience in critically analysing literature. By focussing on controversies in evolution, it shows students that research is not just collecting facts but constructing arguments. Since evolution is a historical science, it also shows how different research methods and strategies are used in biology, depending on the question being asked. Students will analyse the ways in which scientists use and evaluate different types of evidence. They will analyse literature and develop their own questions on controversial issues. There will be a strong emphasis on independent study and writing. Throughout the course, students will gain experience of writing in different formats and presenting and supporting their own arguments and ideas. The aim is for them to develop professional judgment in analysing and evaluating controversial issues.

Staff Feedback

Students will be given feedback in the following forms in this course:

  • written comments on assignments
  • feedback to whole class through the discussion board

Student Feedback

ANU is committed to the demonstration of educational excellence and regularly seeks feedback from students. Students are encouraged to offer feedback directly to their Course Convener or through their College and Course representatives (if applicable). The feedback given in these surveys is anonymous and provides the Colleges, University Education Committee and Academic Board with opportunities to recognise excellent teaching, and opportunities for improvement. The Surveys and Evaluation website provides more information on student surveys at ANU and reports on the feedback provided on ANU courses.

Other Information

Please note, that where there are multiple assessment tasks of the same type, e.g weekly quizzes, a date range is used in the Assessment Summary. The first date is the approximate due date of the first task, the return date is the approximate return date for the final task. Further information is provided in the assessment section of the class summary, and details are provided on the course wattle site.

Adjustments to delivery in 2020

Course delivery and assessment in 2020 was adjusted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Main changes to this course comprised adjustments to assignment due dates. For details see the course Wattle site.

Class Schedule

Week/Session Summary of Activities Assessment
1 Introduction to evolution and the nature of science; weeks 1-3 Quiz, think piece and literature analysis assignment
2 The origin of eukaryotes controversy and phylogenetics, past and present; weeks 4-6 Quiz, think piece and literature analysis assignment
3 Analysis of an evolutionary controversy of your choosing; weeks 7-12 Quiz, think piece, literature analysis assignment and essay

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Return of assessment Learning Outcomes
Quizzes (x3) 15 % * * 1,2
Think pieces (x3) 26 % * * 2,3,4
Literature analysis assignments (x3) 25 % * * 1,3,4
Essay 30 % 04/06/2020 23/06/2020 1,2,3,4
Learning reflections 4 % * * 3,4

* If the Due Date and Return of Assessment date are blank, see the Assessment Tab for specific Assessment Task details


ANU has educational policies, procedures and guidelines, which are designed to ensure that staff and students are aware of the University’s academic standards, and implement them. Students are expected to have read the Academic Misconduct Rule before the commencement of their course. Other key policies and guidelines include:

Assessment Requirements

The ANU is using 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. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the Academic Integrity . In rare cases where online submission using Turnitin software is not technically possible; or where not using Turnitin software has been justified by the Course Convener and approved by the Associate Dean (Education) on the basis of the teaching model being employed; students shall submit assessment online via ‘Wattle’ outside of Turnitin, or failing that in hard copy, or through a combination of submission methods as approved by the Associate Dean (Education). The submission method is detailed below.

Moderation of Assessment

Marks that are allocated during Semester are to be considered provisional until formalised by the College examiners meeting at the end of each Semester. If appropriate, some moderation of marks might be applied prior to final results being released.


There is no exam for this course.

Assessment Task 1

Value: 15 %
Learning Outcomes: 1,2

Quizzes (x3)

There will be three quizzes (one for each module) worth 5% each. The timetable is available on the Wattle site.

Quiz 1 due: 8.3.20

Quiz 2 due: 28.3.20

Quiz 3: due 3.5.20

Assessments are usually returned 1 week from submission.

Assessment Task 2

Value: 26 %
Learning Outcomes: 2,3,4

Think pieces (x3)

Think pieces are short opinion pieces (400 words); there is one for each of the three modules, worth 5%, 7% and 8%. You will be provided with a prompt question based on the readings for each module. For each think piece, there is an additional 2% for self and peer review. Information on marking criteria and how to review will be provided on the Wattle site.

Think piece 1 due: 15.3.20

Think piece 2 due: 7.3.20

Think piece 3: due 6.5.20

Assessments are usually returned 1 week from submission.

Assessment Task 3

Value: 25 %
Learning Outcomes: 1,3,4

Literature analysis assignments (x3)

Literature analysis assignments provide you with a structured approach to analysing papers; there will be one for each module, worth 10%,10% and 5%. You will answer questions about specific papers that will be provided on Wattle.

Literature analysis 1 due: 22.3.20

Literature analysis 2 due: 26.4.20

Literature analysis 3 due: 17.5.20

Assessments are usually returned 1 week from submission.

Assessment Task 4

Value: 30 %
Due Date: 04/06/2020
Return of Assessment: 23/06/2020
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4


You will choose an evolutionary controversy and write an essay analysing the evidence that forms the basis for the controversy. An essay outline worth 5% will be submitted first and you will get feedback on this before writing the essay. The essay is worth 25%; guidelines and a marking rubric will be available on Wattle.

Assessment Task 5

Value: 4 %
Learning Outcomes: 3,4

Learning reflections

At the beginning and end of the course, you will write a short reflection on your expectations and learning. Each will be worth 2%.

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is a core part of the ANU culture as a community of scholars. At its heart, academic integrity is about behaving ethically, committing to honest and responsible scholarly practice and upholding these values with respect and fairness.

The ANU commits to assisting all members of our community to understand how to engage in academic work in ways that are consistent with, and actively support academic integrity. The ANU expects staff and students to be familiar with the academic integrity principle and Academic Misconduct Rule, uphold high standards of academic integrity and act ethically and honestly, to ensure the quality and value of the qualification that you will graduate with.

The Academic Misconduct Rule is in place to promote academic integrity and manage academic misconduct. Very minor breaches of the academic integrity principle may result in a reduction of marks of up to 10% of the total marks available for the assessment. The ANU offers a number of online and in person services to assist students with their assignments, examinations, and other learning activities. Visit the Academic Skills website for more information about academic integrity, your responsibilities and for assistance with your assignments, writing skills and study.

Online Submission

You will be required to electronically sign a declaration as part of the submission of your assignment. Please keep a copy of the assignment for your records. Unless an exemption has been approved by the Associate Dean (Education) submission must be through Turnitin.

Hardcopy Submission

For some forms of assessment (hand written assignments, art works, laboratory notes, etc.) hard copy submission is appropriate when approved by the Associate Dean (Education). Hard copy submissions must utilise the Assignment Cover Sheet. Please keep a copy of tasks completed for your records.

Late Submission

Individual assessment tasks may or may not allow for late submission. Policy regarding late submission is detailed below:

  • Late submission permitted. Late submission of assessment tasks without an extension are penalised at the rate of 5% of the possible marks available per working day or part thereof. Late submission of assessment tasks is not accepted after 10 working days after the due date, or on or after the date specified in the course outline for the return of the assessment item. Late submission is not accepted for take-home examinations.

Referencing Requirements

Accepted academic practice for referencing sources that you use in presentations can be found via the links on the Wattle site, under the file named “ANU and College Policies, Program Information, Student Support Services and Assessment”. Alternatively, you can seek help through the Students Learning Development website.

Returning Assignments

All assignments will be returned with marks and feedback through Wattle, usually 1 week after submission.

Extensions and Penalties

Extensions and late submission of assessment pieces are covered by the Student Assessment (Coursework) Policy and Procedure. Extensions may be granted for assessment pieces that are not examinations or take-home examinations. If you need an extension, you must request an extension in writing on or before the due date. If you have documented and appropriate medical evidence that demonstrates you were not able to request an extension on or before the due date, you may be able to request it after the due date.

Privacy Notice

The ANU has made a number of third party, online, databases available for students to use. Use of each online database is conditional on student end users first agreeing to the database licensor’s terms of service and/or privacy policy. Students should read these carefully. In some cases student end users will be required to register an account with the database licensor and submit personal information, including their: first name; last name; ANU email address; and other information.
In cases where student end users are asked to submit ‘content’ to a database, such as an assignment or short answers, the database licensor may only use the student’s ‘content’ in accordance with the terms of service – including any (copyright) licence the student grants to the database licensor. Any personal information or content a student submits may be stored by the licensor, potentially offshore, and will be used to process the database service in accordance with the licensors terms of service and/or privacy policy.
If any student chooses not to agree to the database licensor’s terms of service or privacy policy, the student will not be able to access and use the database. In these circumstances students should contact their lecturer to enquire about alternative arrangements that are available.

Distribution of grades policy

Academic Quality Assurance Committee monitors the performance of students, including attrition, further study and employment rates and grade distribution, and College reports on quality assurance processes for assessment activities, including alignment with national and international disciplinary and interdisciplinary standards, as well as qualification type learning outcomes.

Since first semester 1994, ANU uses a grading scale for all courses. This grading scale is used by all academic areas of the University.

Support for students

The University offers students support through several different services. You may contact the services listed below directly or seek advice from your Course Convener, Student Administrators, or your College and Course representatives (if applicable).

Prof Susan Howitt

Research Interests

Science education - students' perceptions of research, conceptual understanding

Prof Susan Howitt

By Appointment
Prof Susan Howitt

Research Interests

Prof Susan Howitt

By Appointment

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