• Offered by Biology Teaching and Learning Centre
  • ANU College ANU Joint Colleges of Science
  • Classification Transitional
  • Course subject Biology
  • Areas of interest Plant Science, Evolution and Ecology

See https://www.anu.edu.au/covid-19-advice. This course includes on campus/in person activities that cannot be adjusted for remote participants.

Why do plants and animals occur where they do? Why these specific plants and animals, in these combinations and abundances? What will happen to them in the future? These are the big questions ecology addresses.


This course will focus on quantifying how interactions between individuals and their environment shape populations, and how populations of one species are, in turn, affected by other species. The core principles governing ecological interactions are universal, applying at scales ranging from the microscopic (e.g., bacteria and viruses) to those of ecosystems surrounding us. They play out over timescales ranging from minutes to millions of years. They apply to both natural and managed environments. By understanding and quantifying ecological interaction we can make models describing the past and predicting what will happen in the future. This way of thinking is particularly valuable today, as human behaviour drives the ecology around us, and we need to forecast the consequences of our actions.


This course will take a hands-on data-driven approach, with field trips, workshops and discussions focused on illustrating key ecological concepts. We will leverage the power of the R programming language to visualise data, whether empirical, or simulated by our mathematical models. One course highlight is a three-day field trip to the Kioloa Coastal Campus, that will allow you to design, carry out and analyse a small ecological study..

Note: Graduate students attend joint classes with undergraduates but are assessed separately.

Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Examine and summarise central ideas underpinning the ecology of individuals, populations, communities and/or ecosystems;
  2. Integrate ecological understanding of processes operating across multiple scales of space and time;
  3. Understand how observation, experimentation and modelling can be used to generate and test ecological hypotheses;
  4. Think critically about scientific evidence to understand ecological patterns and processes;
  5. Conduct basic ecological research, analyse ecological data using graphical, tabular and quantitative analysis, including an introduction to the R statistical programming language; and communicate the findings;
  6. Use the R statistical programming language to organise and visualise data in order to discover and describe ecological patterns, as well as to formulate and test hypotheses.
  7. Work as a research team and provide effective peer support;
  8. Synthesise understanding of ecological methods and data analysis, and represent this in a standard report format;
  9. Building evidence-based arguments in a report for how populations, communities and/or ecosystems might respond to differences in their biological and physical environments.

Other Information

Travel conditions may change, and there is a chance that the planned three-day field trip to the Kioloa field station may take place on the ANU campus. If that is the case, there will be no additional cost to the students.

Indicative Assessment

  1. Field and class practical reports 3 x 20% each (60) [LO 1,2,3,4,5,6]
  2. Scientific Report (extended essay) (40) [LO 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9]

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:

  • A weekly face-to face component of up to 5 hours which will include a mixture of lectures, discussions, field trips or computer exercises.
  • 3 days field trip to Kioloa Coastal Campus, (total to approximately 24 hours).
  • Approximately 50 hours of self directed study which will include preparation for lectures, presentations, data analysis classes and other assessment tasks.

Students are expected to actively participate and contribute towards discussions.

Inherent Requirements

To gain full value from this course, students must participate in an approximately 3-day field trip. To participate in the trip, students must be able to:

  • Travel to the field location and stay in field accommodation such as shared basic cabins or dorm rooms;
  • Safely traverse 1-3 km over uneven ground at a moderate pace.

Students who can provide evidence they are unable to meet this requirement may be able to negotiate alternative participation and assessment requirements with the course convener.

Requisite and Incompatibility

You are not able to enrol in this course if you have completed BIOL2131. To enrol in this course you must be active in the Master of Science in Biological Sciences or the Master of Science (Advanced) in Biological Sciences

You will need to contact the Biology Teaching and Learning Centre to request a permission code to enrol in this course.

Prescribed Texts

Key readings will be provided on Wattle, but a key textbook will be Quantitative Ecology by Lehman et al., which is available as a PDF for free


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.

Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.

6.00 0.12500
Domestic fee paying students
Year Fee
2022 $4200
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2022 $6000
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

ANU utilises MyTimetable to enable students to view the timetable for their enrolled courses, browse, then self-allocate to small teaching activities / tutorials so they can better plan their time. Find out more on the Timetable webpage.

The list of offerings for future years is indicative only.
Class summaries, if available, can be accessed by clicking on the View link for the relevant class number.

First Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
3144 21 Feb 2022 28 Feb 2022 31 Mar 2022 27 May 2022 In Person N/A

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