• Class Number 3576
  • Term Code 3130
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • Dr Matthew Brookhouse
    • Dr Matthew Brookhouse
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 22/02/2021
  • Class End Date 28/05/2021
  • Census Date 31/03/2021
  • Last Date to Enrol 01/03/2021
SELT Survey Results

Research plays an important role in everyone's life. In environment and sustainability fields, research allows identification of the sensitivity in human and natural systems to disturbances, responses to processes that threaten biodiversity and human well-being, and development of management strategies aimed at protecting and restoring ecosystems. Achieving these research outcomes relies upon establishing testable research questions, applying appropriate data collection and analysis methods, critically assessing results, and effectively communicating the observations. 

ENVS6103 uses a PPDAC (Problem, Plan, Data, Analysis, Conclusion) cycle to introduce fundamental research concepts. You can expect to develop skills in ecological measurement and sampling, and designing and conducting research projects. You will also develop analytical skills, including data exploration and effective communication and analysis techniques common to all sciences. The course promotes learning through a combination of lectures, and field-/computer-based practical exercises. During field-based exercises you will gain first-hand experience in collecting ecological data. We also place great importance upon understanding the role of equity, integrity and ethics plays in professional practice and how these principles intersect with research.

Graduate students attend joint classes with undergraduates, but are expected to attend an additional graduate tutorial. Weighting and tasks within the graduate assessment schedule also differs substantively from those within the undergraduate schedule.

Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Understand and interpret quantitative research results reported within scientific literature
  2. Understand the principles of sampling techniques in the environmental and social sciences
  3. Demonstrate conceptual understanding of inferential statistics and hypothesis testing
  4. Explore and summarise data to identify primary and interactive effects and trends in experimental data
  5. Demonstrate a high-level understanding of the design and implementation of experiments and research projects
  6. Demonstrate a capacity to communicate research results effectively to the scientific and non-technical audiences

Research-Led Teaching

This course includes content that reflects research within the Fenner School and Research School of Biology. Content is delivered by researchers within the disciplinary fields covered and current research activities and their results form a basis of guest- and convener-delivered lectures. The course is also fundamentally research based. Learning is founded upon inquiry-based learning and encouraging students to act as researchers. To achieve this, current research projects being undertaken by the convener form part of learning activities and students contribute to collection of genuine research data as well as being given the opportunity to participate in research authorship.

Field Trips

Field trips to parts of the Canberra Nature Park, particularly Black Mountain Nature Reserve, will occur during scheduled practical times.

Additional Course Costs

No additional costs.

Examination Material or equipment

This course does not normally include an examination. In the place of an exam, graduate students will complete an extended research task that complements the research activities undertaken by undergraduate students. Failure to attend and participate in at least 75% of the graduate sessions will require completion of a graduate-level exam.

Required Resources

No special resources are required.

Learning in this course is supported by a set of recommended reading. From a statistics perspective, reference will be made to sections of Statistics in a Nutshell , Choosing and Using Statistics and Experimental Design and Data Analysis for Biologists. Field survey techniques are supported by sections of Australian Soil and Land Survey, Ecological Census Techniques and Handbook of Biodiversity Methods as well as online sources. All referenced texts are accessible via the course Wattle site.

This course also draws upon an array of research literature (journal articles) Primary among these is Pook and Moore (1966). Students will be expected to develop a detailed understanding of this paper.

The course makes use of JMP for data analysis and statistics-focussed learning. JMP has an excellent user interface and reports statistics in a comprehensive and comprehensible fashion. Course participants will receive direct instruction in use of the program. JMP is available on all machines in the ANU's Info Commons machines and is available for all ANU students to download and install on their own machine.

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:

  • Written comments, marked rubrics and verbal discussion on assignments;
  • Verbal feedback to the whole class on field exercises, data outcomes, analysis tasks, quiz answers exercises and on assignments;
  • General online feedback on quizzes
  • Additional, individual feedback on request.

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.

Class Schedule

Week/Session Summary of Activities Assessment
1 Lectures Introduction: nature and necessity of research skills; statistical thinking and knowledge; course outline; what to expect and what we expect of students Black Mountain Nature Reserve: vegetation patterning; impact of disturbance Practical Independent campus-based measurement. Tutorial None scheduled.
2 Lectures Describing vegetation: structural classification and summary; representing composition Questions and methods: presence, abundance and density; plots, points and transects Practical Introduction to data in JMP Tutorial Outline of tutorials; reading academic papers
3 Lectures Field methods: intercepts and points; matching methods and data needs; first minor written assessment. Practical Black Mountain survey - stand structure. Tutorial Research authorship I - introducing a research aim; defining a research question; hypotheses; introduction to the first written assessment.
4 Lectures Sampling and replication: goals of sampling; understanding sampling error; non-randomised vs randomised error. Central tendency: centre and spread refresher; central limits theorem Practical Summarising and displaying data I - structure Tutorial Research authorship II - theoretical frameworks; reviewing literature.
5 Lectures Application of the CLT: implications and conditions Confidence intervals: z and t distribution; role of n and a; standard error Practical Black Mountain survey - stand structure. Tutorial Research authorship III - citing and referencing.
6 Lectures Confidence intervals: estimating µ; interpreting a confidence interval Hypothesis testing with one sample: testing differences; the null hypothesis Practical Summarising and displaying data II - canopies Tutorial Statistics revision First minor written assessment Introduction for study of vegetation in Black Mountain Nature Reserve.
7 Lectures Hypothesis tests: t-critical and t-calculated; p-values; one- and two-tailed tests Fisher's protocols: testing procedure; when µ is unknown; type I and type II error; t; unequal and equal variance testing Practical One-sample testing Tutorial Research authorship III - methods.
8 Lectures Two-sample hypothesis tests: analytical pathways; understanding dependence; repeated-measures tests Practical Two-sample testing Tutorial Two-sample testing practice
9 Lectures Experimental design I: Shinrin yoku; experimental and observational studies; natural and controlled experiments Experimental design II: Is Shinrin yoku real?; common elements of experiments; scale of replication; confounding factors; typical designs Practical Assessment support Tutorial Research authorship IV - results Second minor written assessment Methods for study of vegetation in Black Mountain Nature Reserve.
10 Lectures ?2: quantitative comparison of frequency data; Linear association: correlation coefficients (r and ?); assumptions and limitations Practical Black Mountain survey - understorey composition. Tutorial Research authorship IV - presenting results and structuring a discussion.
11 Lectures ANOVA: multiple means tests; expansion on the sum of squared deviates and df; Fisher's (f) ratio ; the coefficient of determination (r-square) Linear relations I: ordinary least squares; parameter estimation; significance testing Practical Assessment support Tutorial Research authorship V - abstracts.
12 Lectures The limits of null-hypothesis significance testing: why significance is not importance; reproducibility and p-hacking; course wrap up and examination discussion. Practical Data summary and hypothesis testing - understorey diversity Tutorial Exam strategies and wrap up. Major written assessment Research paper on study of vegetation in Black Mountain Nature Reserve.

Tutorial Registration

Please register via the course Wattle site.

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Return of assessment Learning Outcomes
First minor written assessment 20 % 05/04/2021 20/04/2021 2,4,6
Second minor written assessment 30 % 20/04/2021 04/06/2021 1,3,4,6
Major written assessment 50 % 07/06/2021 25/06/2021 1,2,3,4,5,6

* 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.


In addition to regular tutorials and practical sessions attended by all students in ENVS1003, ENVS6103 must participate in an additional weekly tutorial focussed on the impact of disturbance on understorey vegetation. Students will be expected to review supporting literature and lead discussion during tutorial sessions.

Some practicals within this course will be conducted in field locations on Black Mountain. Recorded materials outlining the activities conducted on site, and data collected by local students will be made available for remote participants.


This course does not normally include an examination. However, failure to attend and participate in at least 75% of the graduate sessions will require completion of a graduate-level exam.

Assessment Task 1

Value: 20 %
Due Date: 05/04/2021
Return of Assessment: 20/04/2021
Learning Outcomes: 2,4,6

First minor written assessment

Research Introduction for study focussed on aspect-related variation in vegetation structure and composition, and response to disturbance. Submissions will need to propose a research question and hypotheses that are informed by an appropriate conceptual/theoretical framework and brief literature review. Post-marking feedback will be useful for integration into the major written assessment.

Assessment Task 2

Value: 30 %
Due Date: 20/04/2021
Return of Assessment: 04/06/2021
Learning Outcomes: 1,3,4,6

Second minor written assessment

Research Methods and Results sections for study focussed on aspect-related variation in vegetation structure and composition, and response to disturbance. Submissions will need to thoroughly describe research approach and rationale, and summarise the key results arising from practical activities throughout the semester. Post-marking feedback will be useful for integration into the major written assessment.

Assessment Task 3

Value: 50 %
Due Date: 07/06/2021
Return of Assessment: 25/06/2021
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5,6

Major written assessment

Scientific article focussing on aspect-related variation in vegetation structure and composition, and response to disturbance. Reports are expected in the form of a journal article for Australian Journal of Botany. The report will be supported by feedback on earlier assessment pieces and in-practical analyses.

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

Assignments are submitted using Turnitin in the course Wattle site. 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.

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

Extensions and late submission of assessment pieces are covered by the Student Assessment (Coursework) Policy and Procedure. The Course Convener may grant extensions for assessment pieces that are not examinations or take-home examinations. If you need an extension, you must request it 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.

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

Feedback on written assessment will be provided on electronic copies of the electronically-submitted assessment.

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 permitted.

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).

Dr Matthew Brookhouse
+61 2 6125 2745

Research Interests

Natural Resource Management, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, Plant Physiology, Archaeological Science, Terrestrial Ecology, Tree Nutrition And Physiology, Landscape Ecology, Forestry Sciences

Dr Matthew Brookhouse

By Appointment
Dr Matthew Brookhouse

Research Interests

Dr Matthew Brookhouse

By Appointment

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