• Class Number 7503
  • Term Code 3160
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • Prof Dave Rowell
    • Prof Scott Keogh
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 26/07/2021
  • Class End Date 29/10/2021
  • Census Date 14/09/2021
  • Last Date to Enrol 02/08/2021
SELT Survey Results

Australia is famous the world over for its unique and biodiverse animals: from charismatic mammals to extravagant octopuses, to fascinating spiders. If you are interested in the ecology, evolution, conservation or management of animals then it is important to understand their biodiversity and natural history. In this course we will put Australian animals in an evolutionary context and explore recent research advances through interactive lectures, lab practicals, workshops and a field trip. In the first half of the course we cover the enormous diversity of terrestrial, marine and aquatic invertebrate animals, from insects and spiders to molluscs, rotifers and corals. In the second half we cover the enigmatic Australian fish, frogs, reptiles, birds and mammals, with a particular focus on their diversity and natural history. The course includes contributions from researchers at the CSIRO Australian National Insect Collection and the Australian National Wildlife Collection, both located in Canberra. On a 3-day field trip to the coast you will gain a solid grounding in identifying the most common marine and terrestrial invertebrate fauna of south-eastern Australia and the habitats that they occupy. Lab practicals throughout the course focus on hands-on learning about key features of structures and how they function, specimen preservation and the use of biological keys for species identification. We have designed this course to complement other third year courses in ecology, evolution, biodiversity and conservation. It is fun, interesting and interactive. It will give you the practical skills and information you need to continue on with animal biology in the future, including advice on future jobs that require these skills.

Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Describe and evaluate the major patterns of biodiversity and evolutionary innovations of invertebrate and vertebrate animals, with a particular focus on Australian species.
  2. Understand and apply the principles of phylogenetic systematics and taxonomy to invertebrate and vertebrate groups.
  3. Analyse invertebrates in the field and understand the requirements for collection and short-term maintenance of invertebrate species for photographic and scientific observation.
  4. Analyse vertebrates in the laboratory and evaluate morphological diversity in the context of the natural history of Australian vertebrates.
  5. Analyse invertebrates and vertebrates in the laboratory and use taxonomic keys for identification.

Research-Led Teaching

This course is strongly linked to the research going on in the Research School of Biology and elsewhere. All of the lecturers in this course are world-class researchers in invertebrate and vertebrate biology. The lecture material and practicals are designed to provide an excellent grounding in zoology with a particular emphasis on the major research strengths of the Research School of Biology.  

This course requires students to independently collect specimens, mount or otherwise prepare them to museum standards, and describe and identify them in accordance with the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature. This independent research is assessed against the standards expected for professional museum curators, taxonomists and systematists.

Field Trips

There will be a field trip to the ANU’s Kioloa Campus in the second half of the course.

Additional Course Costs

Students will be required to pay $250 towards transport, food and accommodation for the field trip.

Examination Material or equipment

Examination details will be supplied to students on the course Wattle site.

Recommended student system requirements 

ANU courses commonly use a number of online resources and activities including:

  • video material, similar to YouTube, for lectures and other instruction
  • two-way video conferencing for interactive learning
  • email and other messaging tools for communication
  • interactive web apps for formative and collaborative activities
  • print and photo/scan for handwritten work
  • home-based assessment.

To fully participate in ANU learning, students need:

  • A computer or laptop. Mobile devices may work well but in some situations a computer/laptop may be more appropriate.
  • Webcam
  • Speakers and a microphone (e.g. headset)
  • Reliable, stable internet connection. Broadband recommended. If using a mobile network or wi-fi then check performance is adequate.
  • Suitable location with minimal interruptions and adequate privacy for classes and assessments.
  • Printing, and photo/scanning equipment

For more information please see https://www.anu.edu.au/students/systems/recommended-student-system-requirements

Staff Feedback

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

  • Comments and discussion on their work as they are doing it in prac sessions
  • Written feedback on submitted work
  • General feedback to class.

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

Referencing requirements

Referencing varies among assessment tasks. For example, the invertebrate collection exercise must conform to the style prescribed by the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature, while other tasks will require standard research paper formats. Referencing will be discussed in class in the context of each assessment task.

Class Schedule

Week/Session Summary of Activities Assessment
1 History of Australian Vertebrates LAB – Museum specimen preparation
2 Australian Frogs LAB – Frog Diversity
3 Australian Reptiles LAB – Reptile Diversity
4 Australian Birds LAB – Bird Diversity
5 Australian Mammals LAB – Mammal Diversity
6 Species Accounts LAB – Workshops on Jobs in Biology
7 Insects: Overview and Origins LAB - Tour of the Australian National Insect Collection
8 Wingless insects, Grasshoppers, Bugs and Butterflies LAB - Insects: Pinning and Identification
9 Beetles, Forensic Entomology LAB - Beetles: Pinning and Identification
10 Flies, Ants and Bees LAB - Flies, Ants and Bees: Pinning and identification
11 Sponges, Corals, Jellyfish and kin LAB – Flies: Pinning and identification
12 Spiders, Scorpions, Velvet worms, Nematode worms and their kin LAB – Finish off collections and submit

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Return of assessment Learning Outcomes
Written vertebrate species account and presentation 15 % 06/09/2021 18/09/2021 1,2,3,4,5
Mid semester exam over first half of the course. 35 % 30/08/2021 24/09/2021 1,2,3,4
Invertebrate specimen collection and preparation 25 % 29/10/2021 07/11/2021 1,2,3,5
End of Semester exam over second half of the course. 25 % 04/11/2021 02/12/2021 1,2,4,5

* 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.


All students who are on campus will be required to participate in the field trip and practical sessions. If there are remote students in the course then we will work out alternative assessment items for those students.


2 x exams: Mid term and final exams on lecture & practical component

Please note, that where a date range is used in the Assessment Summary in relation to exams, the due date and return date for mid-semester exams indicate the approximate timeframe in which the exam will be held; the due and return date for end of semester exams indicate the approximate timeframe in which the exam will be held and the date official end of Semester results are released on ISIS. Students should consult the course wattle site and the ANU final examination timetable to confirm the date, time and venue of the exam.

Assessment Task 1

Value: 15 %
Due Date: 06/09/2021
Return of Assessment: 18/09/2021
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5

Written vertebrate species account and presentation

Each student will either choose or be assigned a local vertebrate species and they will be tasked with writing a detailed species account. As part of this you will learn how to use the Atlas of Living Australia and the Canberra Nature Map. Students will present a very short flash talk on the highlights of their species account. 

Assessment Task 2

Value: 35 %
Due Date: 30/08/2021
Return of Assessment: 24/09/2021
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4

Mid semester exam over first half of the course.

Please check the course Wattle site and the ANU Examination Timetable to confirm the date, time and location of the mid semester exam.

Assessment Task 3

Value: 25 %
Due Date: 29/10/2021
Return of Assessment: 07/11/2021
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,5

Invertebrate specimen collection and preparation

Each student will do an insect collection of local species. This project has four objectives: To examine the morphology of selected invertebrates and to be able to describe their structure. To document the variety of Australian terrestrial and marine invertebrates. To become proficient in invertebrate collection techniques and the preparation, presentation and preservation of specimens. To learn about and apply the rules of invertebrate classification and identification.

Assessment Task 4

Value: 25 %
Due Date: 04/11/2021
Return of Assessment: 02/12/2021
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,4,5

End of Semester exam over second half of the course.

The date range in the Assessment Summary indicates the start of the end of semester exam period and the date official end of semester results are released on ISIS. Please check the ANU final Examination Timetable http://www.anu.edu.au/students/program-administration/assessments-exams/examination-timetable to confirm the date, time and location exam.

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

Late submission not permitted. If submission of assessment tasks without an extension after the due date is not permitted, a mark of 0 will be awarded.

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

Assignments will be returned as hardcopy with feedback.

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.

Resubmission of Assignments

Resubmission of assignments is not an available option.

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 Dave Rowell
02 6125 9090

Research Interests

Prof Dave Rowell

By Appointment
Prof Scott Keogh

Research Interests

Evolution and diversity of Australian animals

Prof Scott Keogh

By Appointment

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