• Class Number 6127
  • Term Code 3260
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • Prof Lindell Bromham
    • Prof Lindell Bromham
    • Prof Marcel Cardillo
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 25/07/2022
  • Class End Date 28/10/2022
  • Census Date 31/08/2022
  • Last Date to Enrol 01/08/2022
SELT Survey Results

This course deals with patterns of biodiversity at large spatial and temporal scales, and the processes that have generated these patterns. Surprisingly, there are many fundamental questions about biodiversity that remain a matter of debate. For example, why are there so many species in the tropics? Did the extinction of dinosaurs pave the way for the rise of mammals? What causes one species to diverge into two? Equally surprisingly to many people, it is possible to test “big-picture” questions like these using a set of basic logical principles and analytical tools, and an ever-expanding database of molecular, geographic and ecological information on the world's species. The aim of this course is not to present you with facts to memorize, but to equip you with the skills to ask interesting questions about biodiversity, and develop creative and elegant ways to answer them. This is a challenging and rewarding course that requires students to think creatively, take charge of framing, investigating and answering questions, consider different viewpoints and come to their own opinions. The course is taught through workshops which give students a chance to explore and discuss ideas, so attendance of all face-to-face classes is an essential component of this course. The course emphasizes individual study and critical thinking.

Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Formulate explanations of observed patterns of biodiversity and species distributions in terms of key ecological and evolutionary processes;
  2. Investigate topics in biodiversity by searching, evaluating and synthesizing relevant literature;
  3. Recognize the features of a statistically rigorous and effective test of a question or hypothesis in biodiversity;
  4. Analyze and interpret biodiversity patterns using specialist computer software and widely-used analytical methods.

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
  • verbal comments
  • feedback to whole class, groups, individuals, focus group etc

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 attendance at three workshop classes per week is not compulsory, however the discussions occurring in workshop classes will not be recorded, therefore attendance at classes is an important part of completing this course.

Class Schedule

Week/Session Summary of Activities Assessment
1 Weeks 1-12 Workshop: interactive discussion based classes Participation in all scheduled classes is an expectation of this course. Classes are run in person and will not be recorded.

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Learning Outcomes
Online quizzes 12 % 1
Computer-based workshops with accompanying written reports 14 % 3,4
Three in-class tests 45 % 1,2,3
Explainer of a key idea in macroevolution and macroecology + feedback on explainers 29 % 2

* 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 are expected to actively participate in all classes, and to provide constructive peer feedback to other students


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: 12 %
Learning Outcomes: 1

Online quizzes

Weekly online quizzes of four multiple choice questions encourage students to keep up with the course material and provide regular checks on your understanding. Quizzes in Weeks 1 and 2 do not contribute to the course mark, all other quizzes are compulsory and contribute. 4 questions per week, 0.5 for each correct answer, 0 for any incorrect answer, 0 for uncompleted questions - scores as assessed automatically in Wattle and added to grade book, correct answers will be released after the quiz closes. Assessable quizzes will be made available on Wattle for a limited period on scheduled days. Details will be given at the beginning of semester.

Assessment Task 2

Value: 14 %
Learning Outcomes: 3,4

Computer-based workshops with accompanying written reports

These activities will give you a useful introduction to the free, open-source, and widely-used statistical programming language R, and some of the tools it includes for handling and analyzing phylogenies and biodiversity data. You can complete the activities on your own computer in the regular class time, with support from teaching staff, or you can complete these activities in your own time. You will then submit your practical reports via Wattle at the end of Semester (for due date see Wattle). 

Assessment Task 3

Value: 45 %
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3

Three in-class tests

The tests are scheduled in class times, see Wattle for details on dates and times. Each test covers approximately 4 weeks of the course, and will include all the material covered in that period, including ideas discussed in classes and concepts from the background reading.

Assessment Task 4

Value: 29 %
Learning Outcomes: 2

Explainer of a key idea in macroevolution and macroecology + feedback on explainers

Choose a tricky idea or interesting debate in macroevolution and macroecology and explain the key points, using any medium you like – e.g. magazine article, video, graphic novel, animation, seminar presentation, picture book, song, synchronized swimming routine, anything. The explainer will be judged entirely on how well it explains the concept or debate, not on the presentation medium. The explainer will be presented to the class on Wattle. Peer and teacher feedback will help you refine your explainer before you submit it for grading. Students are expected to work in groups of up to five people but individuals can seek permission to complete an individual project instead. You are free to choose the format (e.g. written, electronic media, presentation, graphical) but all explainers will be judged by the same criteria, focussing on how well they explain an important concept in macroevolution and macroecology. You will submit a draft of your explainer to the wattle site where it can be viewed by the rest of the class. All class members will then give detailed and constructive feedback on the explainer. The explainers are considered a core part of the class material and your contributions to feedback are an assessable activity.

Details of assessment of explainer feedback will be posted on the Wattle page. 

Due date: will be provided on the wattle site

Individual Assessment in Group Tasks (where applicable): All students will share the same mark, and the output must be commensurate with the number of students involved.

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

Assignments will be submitted via Wattle

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


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 Lindell Bromham

Research Interests

Prof Lindell Bromham

Prof Lindell Bromham
02 6125 9090

Research Interests

Prof Lindell Bromham

Prof Marcel Cardillo
02 6125 9090

Research Interests

Prof Marcel Cardillo

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