• Offered by Biology Teaching and Learning Centre
  • ANU College ANU Joint Colleges of Science
  • Course subject Biology
  • Areas of interest Evolution and Ecology, Biology, Climate
  • Academic career UGRD
  • Course convener
    • Owen Atkin
  • Mode of delivery In Person
  • Co-taught Course
  • Offered in Second Semester 2021
    See Future Offerings

Across the globe, climates are changing. As a carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere rise, temperatures are increasing, resulting in more frequent and severe heat waves.  When and where rain falls is also changing, with droughts occurring more often. How will these changes in the global climate affect the performance, survival and distribution of plants, both in nature and cultivation?

This course will provide you with a solid background in plant function in relation to global climate change and enable you to answer this question at scales ranging from cellular function to community processes. The course is structured around six topic modules selected to expose students to current research areas in the field. ANU has a high research profile in different aspects of how environmental factors and global climate change affect plant function and ecology and each module is taught by an expert lecturer. The specific topics may vary between years depending on lecturers. The course will have a broad content ranging from topics as fundamental as how: plants take up carbon from the atmosphere through photosynthesis and how this uptake of carbon is linked to the use of water; changing environmental factors such as temperatures affect plant function; the biotic environment is crucial in determining how plants acquire nutrients and their responses to changes in the global climate; and, climate change is leading to increased mortality of plants – often described as ‘dieback’ – in ecosystems across the globe.

Students will learn how to critique papers in the primary literature and will develop written and oral communication skills. Course format is directed by lecturers, but significantly based on student-led presentations of primary literature. This course will build student's understanding of plant function in relation to global climate change, research analysis and proposal formulation skills.

Honours Pathway Option:

Entry to Honours Pathway Option will be subject to the approval of the course convener, and requires a mark of at least 70 in all BIOL courses. Students undertaking this option will engage in a small inquiry-learning project based in one of the course lecturer's labs. The practical experience provides an opportunity to learn and apply techniques and to extend the theory taught in the course. Students will work with the lecturer to develop the mini-project and will either write a brief report or give a 15 minute presentation to the class on the project and results.

Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Understand and describe global climate change and the ways in which its effects may have impacts on plant biology
  2. Develop knowledge of plant biology processes relevant to plant growth and performance and ecological outcomes.
  3. Find and interpret primary research literature and be able to analyze and critique the research results in written and oral formats.
  4. Communicate science issues and ideas in both oral and written forms.

Indicative Assessment

  1. Student-led presentations on a given topic. (30) [LO 1,2,3,4]
  2. Essay based on a scientific paper aligned with one of the course modules (30) [LO 1,2,3,4]
  3. Open book exam, including printed copies of literature research papers (40) [LO 1,2,3,4]

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.


Following an introduction lecture, this course will be divided into six modules, each 2 weeks long and each having a similar number of lectures and discussion sessions.

The expected workload will consist of approximately 130 hours throughout the semester, including:

  • a face-to-face component consisting of 28 hours of lectures and 12 hours of discussion sessions throughout the semester (i.e. total 40 hours of face-to-face contact).
  • Approximately 90 hours of self-study which will include preparation for lectures, presentations, discussion sessions and other assessment tasks

Students are expected to actively participate and contribute to the discussion sessions.

Inherent Requirements

To be determined

Requisite and Incompatibility

To enrol in this course you must have completed 96 units toward a degree, including at least 24 units of BIOL or ENVS courses at 1000 or 2000 level, or have permission of the course convener. Incompatible with BIOL6125.

Prescribed Texts



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
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

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
6326 26 Jul 2021 02 Aug 2021 31 Aug 2021 29 Oct 2021 In Person N/A

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