- Code ENVS6104
- 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
In Sem 2 2022, this course is on campus with remote adjustments only for participants with unavoidable travel restrictions/visa delays.
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 salinization - implications for productivity;
- Australian vegetation: coping with nutrient deficiency, water, fire, herbivory, weeds;
- Environmental policy and planning: linking science to policy and practice.
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.
This course is co-taught with undergraduate students but assessed separately.
Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:
- critically appraise the role of the Murray-Darling as an integrated system whose processes and problems reflect the biophysical and social forces that have shaped Australia;
- understand the geological development of Australia in general, and the Murray Darling Basin in particular;
- recognise the patterns and processes which characterise Australia's climate and explain their connection to the evolution of Australian landscapes and biota;
- 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 explain their function in coping with nutrient deficiency, aridity, flood, herbivory and fire;
- integrate knowledge across a range of disciplines to critically evaluate complex environmental problems and critique policy approaches to solving those problems.
- formulate and test hypotheses and synthesise results in a scientific report.
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 2,3,4,5,6,7]
- Essay plan (Draft field trip report) - up to 1500 words (15) [LO 1,2,7,8]
- Final field trip reports - up to 2500 words (35) [LO 1,2,6,7,8]
- Scientific report (30) [LO 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8]
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
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