- Code ENVS1004
- Unit Value 6 units
- Offered by Fenner School of Environment and Society
- ANU College ANU Joint Colleges of Science
- Course subject Environmental Science
- Areas of interest Forestry, Geography, Interdisciplinary Studies - Sustainability
This course has been adjusted for remote participation in Sem 2 2021 due to COVID-19 restrictions. On-campus activities will also be available.
This course builds an understanding of key processes that have shaped Australia's biophysical environment. Through a coordinated series of modules, students acquire foundation knowledge across a range of environmental science disciplines. One of the world’s great drainage basins, the Murray Darling Basin, is used as a case study to connect and integrate these modules into a clear narrative about the processes and issues affecting Australia's environment. In each module the case study is revisited to address topical issues and apply the learning covered in the module. By the end of the course, students will understand the Murray-Darling as an integrated system whose processes and problems reflect the biophysical and social forces that have shaped Australia.
Included modules are:
- Creating a continent: the breakup of Gondwana - implications for geology, climate, soils and evolution of flora and fauna;
- Geological events that shaped Australia: faults and rifts, volcanic activity, glaciations, sea level fluctuations;
- Australia's climate: climate patterns in time and space, the nature and role of climate variability, and the impacts of global warming;
- Australian landscape evolution: geomorphology, including effects of Aboriginal and European settlement;
- Water in Australia: how much, where it is, comes from and goes to, and how to regulate its use;
- Characterising Australian soils: soil formation and description, including aeolian deposition and land salinisation - implications for productivity;
- Australian vegetation: coping with nutrient deficiency, water, fire, herbivory, weeds.
Modules are delivered by a diverse range of disciplinary experts. Lectures are complemented by a strong practical component, in which students learn through posing questions and solving problems in panel discussions, laboratory and field classes, and an overnight excursion.
Honours Pathway Option
Subject to the approval of the course convenor; HPO students will be required to demonstrate greater depth of understanding of the content of the course. HPO students will submit alternative advanced research report, equivalent to a minimum of 20% of overall assessment.
Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:
- recognise the patterns and processes which characterise Australia’s climate and explain their connection to the evolution of Australian landscapes and biota;
- understand the geological development of Australia in general, and understand the relationship to soil;
- discuss the unique characteristics of water in Australia and the interacting environmental and social factors that make it so;
- describe the development of Australian soils and understand the implications for ecosystem productivity;
- recognise key morphological traits in Australian plant families and how they cope with nutrient deficiency, aridity, flood, herbivory and fire;
- integrate knowledge across a range of disciplines to critically evaluate complex environmental problems.
- develop communication skills in an appropriate science format
There is a field trip which requires an additional fee of approximately $165 (payment to ANU Science Shop). Students will be asked to register their intention to participate in the field trip via the course WATTLE site.
- Field-based teaching and learning activity forms an integral and important part of many courses delivered by the Fenner School of Environment & Society. For this course, this includes a 2 day field trip. Fieldwork activities are designed to allow you put the skills you’ve learned in the classroom into practice in new environments and provide powerful enrichment to student learning. Students should contact the Course Convenor if they have any questions.
If you do not meet the requisites for this course, it may be possible to receive a permission code. If you are prompted for a permission code on ISIS, please request one online via the following form.
- Practical exercises (20) [LO 1,2,3,4,5]
- Essay Plan (draft field trip report) - up to 1500 words (15) [LO 1,6,7]
- Final field trip report - up to 2500 words (35) [LO 1,5,6,7]
- End of semester test (30) [LO 1,2,3,4,5,6]
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.
The expected workload will consist of approximately 130 hours throughout the semester including:
- Face-to face component which may consist of 3 x 1 hour lectures plus 1 x 2 hour workshop per week (including some field based activities).
- Approximately 70 hours of self directed study which will include preparation for lectures, presentations and other assessment tasks.
Students are expected to actively participate and contribute towards discussions.
There is also an optional 2 day trip to the Snowy Mountains one the first weekend of the mid- semester teaching break. See "Other Information" for more details.
To be determined.
Requisite and Incompatibility
Prescribed texts not required, but suggested reading indicated.
Australian Department of Environment & Heritage (2016) Australia State of the Environment. https://soe.environment.gov.au
Twidale, C.R. & Campbell, E.M. (2005) Australian Landforms - understanding a low, flat arid and old landscape. Rosenburg Publishing.
Attiwill, P. and Wilson, B. (2006) Ecology: an Australian perspective. Oxford. South Melbourne.
McKenzie, N, Jacquier, D., Isbell, R. and Brown, K. (2004) Australian Soils and Landscapes. CSIRO Publishing, Collingwood. https://www.publish.csiro.au/book/3821/
General science knowledge.
Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.
Commonwealth Support (CSP) Students
If you 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). More information about your student contribution amount for each course at Fees.
- Student Contribution Band:
- Unit value:
- 6 units
If you are a domestic graduate coursework student with a Domestic Tuition Fee (DTF) place or international student you will be required to pay course tuition fees (see below). Course tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.
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Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links
Class summaries, if available, can be accessed by clicking on the View link for the relevant class number.