• Class Number 3502
  • Term Code 3230
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • AsPr Janelle Stevenson
    • Dr Matthew Adeleye
    • Dr Larissa Schneider
    • Dr Matthew Brookhouse
    • Simon Connor
    • Dr Simon Haberle
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 21/02/2022
  • Class End Date 27/05/2022
  • Census Date 31/03/2022
  • Last Date to Enrol 28/02/2022
SELT Survey Results

The past, the present and the future. These are all aspects of environmental change that palaeoecologists attempt to understand. In essence, palaeoecology enables us to venture back in time and reconstruct landscapes of the past, with much of our understanding of these deep time environmental histories based on the microscopic fossil remains of plants and animals found in sedimentary sequences. There is a rich body of this kind of evidence from around the world and Australia is a fascinating part of the global story.  

Participants are introduced to the science of reconstructing past environments through a hands-on research project designed around an environmental research question. Students explore the classic methods and techniques used to understand deep time environmental change through the collection of sedimentary sequences and the laboratory analysis of a number of palaeoenvironmental indicators, such as pollen and charcoal. These two proxy data types reveal what was growing in the landscape at different times in the past and how often it burnt.


The course provides students with an understanding of the intersection between palaeoecology, fire ecology, archaeology, palaeoclimatology and conservation management research. The program also explores how Indigenous people have tended country and altered environmental processes over the millennia, ultimately creating cultural landscapes.  


Students will also meet and learn from some of ANU’s leading researchers in this field as well as gain insight into ongoing research in the region, as we delve into how palaeoenvironmental science can play a role in understanding current and future environmental and societal challenges. 

Note: Postgraduate students will participate in classes with undergraduate students but will be assessed separately.

Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Describe the natural and anthropogenic drivers of past environmental change at a global, regional and local scale.
  2. Describe and explain the techniques that are used to reconstruct past environmental conditions in Australia and abroad.
  3. Analyse and reconstruct past environmental conditions using appropriate field and laboratory techniques.
  4. Critique and investigate palaeo-environmental data from a range of sedimentary contexts.
  5. Reflect on the natural and human influences that explain past environmental conditions and assemble this into a format suitable for a broad audience.

Research-Led Teaching

This is a field and laboratory intensive course where students formulate and answer a research question.

Field work for the research project is carried out over the weekend of Friday 4th March to Sunday 6th March. Data is then gathered and developed over the semester.

Field Trips

Horse Island, Tuross Heads

When: departing midday Friday 4th March. Back on campus by 6pm Sunday 6th March.

Approximate Cost: $100 (payment via ANU Science Shop)


Hands on experience sampling a palaeo-wetland deposits

Vegetation surveys

Data from the field trip will form the basis of the course research project and the production of a short (3 -5 minute video - Assignment 3) on the palaeoenvironmental history of Horse Island, South Coast, NSW (Yuin Country). More detail about field trip activities will be available during the Introductory Lab in Week 1.


·        camping at Beachcomber Holiday Park

What to Bring:

·        enclosed footwear that you are prepared to get wet and muddy

·        spare pair of dry shoes

·        suitable clothing such as long pants, long sleeves and a hat

·        snacks, water bottle, camera, pens and pencils

·        wet weather gear

·        plate, bowl, mug, knife, spoon, and fork

·        tent, sleeping mat, sleeping bag


the field trip is not compulsory for 2022

Please see the Fenner School Day Field Trip page for more information about any day trips.

Additional Course Costs

There are additional field trip fees of approximately $100 in this course (payment to ANU Science Shop). 

Examination Material or equipment

No exams. Quizzes done online through Wattle at home.

Required Resources

Students will be encouraged to bring laptops or iPads to certain classes. If a student does not have ready access to a device, arrangements will be made to provide this resource in class.

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:

  • Verbal feedback to whole class
  • Verbal feedback to working groups
  • Verbal feedback to individuals
  • Written feedback to individuals

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 Students should refer to the Wattle site for current delivery information for the course this semester. Online: Course Introduction + The Quaternary Lab Session: Introduction + organising field work logistics
2 Online: Sediments + Pollen As An Environmental Proxy Lab Session: Describing and Sampling Field Cores Weekend Fieldtrip - Friday midday to Sunday 6 pm.
3 Online: Fire Lab Session: Sampling for charcoal + PollenScape
4 Online: Radiocarbon Dating + Isotopes Lab Session: Calibrating C14 ages + Charcoal Counting Quiz 1 (5%) - online and open from 14th March - 20th March
5 Online: Geochemistry + Palaeodata Analysis 101 Lab Session: Analysis Guidelines for Pollen Data + Pollen Counting
6 Online: SE Australia Quaternary Environments Lab Session: Finish off pollen counts Quiz 2 (5%) - online and open from 28th March - 3rd April Assignment 1 (10%) - Lab Workbook - Part 1 (3rd April)
7 Online: Human Impact and the Anthropocene Lab Session: Class Discussion + Introduction to Data Plotting Assignment 2 (20%)Literature Review (25th April)
8 Online: Palaeodata Analysis - 'Advanced' Lab Session: Class discussion of palaeodata presentation + our data so far Quiz 3 (5%) - online and open from 25th April - 1st May
9 Online: Biogeography and Palaeoecology Lab Session: island biogeography game + storyboarding for video Assignment 3 (15%) Lab Workbook - Part 2 (8th May)
10 ?Online: Palaeoecology and Conservation Lab Session: Group Discussion + continuation of video project work Quiz 3 (5%) - online and open from 16th - 22nd May
11 Online: Dendrochronology Lab Session: Tree Ring Measurement
12 Lab Session: Finalising Video Assignment Film Extravaganza Evening Assignment 4 - Video (40%) - Thursday 26th May

Tutorial Registration

Laboratory sessions run every Thursday from 10.00 - 1.00 and repeated from 2.00 - 5.00.

Students are required to register for one of these sessions.

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Return of assessment Learning Outcomes
Quiz 1 5 % 20/03/2022 20/03/2022 2,3
Quiz 2 5 % 03/04/2022 03/04/2022 2,3
Assignment 1 – Lab Workbook - Part 1 10 % 03/04/2022 17/04/2022 1,2,3,4,5
Assignment 2 - Literature Review 20 % 25/04/2022 11/05/2022 1,2,3,4,5
Quiz 3 5 % 30/04/2022 30/04/2022 2,3,4
Assignment 3 - Lab workbook - Part 2 10 % 08/05/2022 22/05/2022 1,2,3,4,5
Quiz 4 5 % 22/05/2022 22/05/2022 2,3,4
Assignment 4 - Video Project 40 % 26/05/2022 10/06/2022 1,2,3,4,5

* 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.


Students are expected to listen to all pre-recorded lectures and contribute to class discussions.

The laboratory sessions are are all face to face with a number of assessment tasks linked to lab activities.


No examination.

Assessment Task 1

Value: 5 %
Due Date: 20/03/2022
Return of Assessment: 20/03/2022
Learning Outcomes: 2,3

Quiz 1

Details of task: online quiz based on Weeks 1-4

Value: 5%

Date: Quiz is open from Monday 14th March - Sunday 20th March (11.59 pm)

Assessment Task 2

Value: 5 %
Due Date: 03/04/2022
Return of Assessment: 03/04/2022
Learning Outcomes: 2,3

Quiz 2

Online quiz based on Weeks 4-6.

Value: 5%

Date: Quiz is open from Monday 28th March - Sunday 3rd April (11.59 pm).

Assessment Task 3

Value: 10 %
Due Date: 03/04/2022
Return of Assessment: 17/04/2022
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5

Assignment 1 – Lab Workbook - Part 1

Written responses and illustrations to questions in the lab workbook. The workbook is distributed in Week 1.

Value: 10%

Submission: via Turnitin by 11.59 pm 3rd April

Estimated Return Date: 17th May

Assessment Task 4

Value: 20 %
Due Date: 25/04/2022
Return of Assessment: 11/05/2022
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5

Assignment 2 - Literature Review

Literature reviews do not report new or original work but are a review of current knowledge around a particular question/problem/issue including any theoretical or methodological contributions. Write a standard academic review of the literature for a chosen palaeoenvironmental topic ( approx. 2,000 words). 

Speak with Janelle or Matthew about your topic idea.

Your review should describe and explore the following:

1. context of previous contributions into the question/problem/issue

2. relationship of each work to others with some critical analysis

3. any gaps in the literature and therefore possible ways forward

Harvard style referencing is recommended. Whatever style you choose you must use it correctly and consistently throughout the review.

Value: 20%

Submission: via Turnitin by 11.59 pm 25th April

Estimated Return Date: 11th May

Assessment Task 5

Value: 5 %
Due Date: 30/04/2022
Return of Assessment: 30/04/2022
Learning Outcomes: 2,3,4

Quiz 3

Online quiz based on Weeks 6 - 8.

Value: 5%

Date: Quiz is open from Monday 25th April - Sunday 1st May (11.59 pm).

Assessment Task 6

Value: 10 %
Due Date: 08/05/2022
Return of Assessment: 22/05/2022
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5

Assignment 3 - Lab workbook - Part 2

Written responses, data analysis and graphs in response to questions in the lab workbook. The workbook is distributed in Week 1.

Value: 10%

Submission: via Turnitin by 11.59 pm Sunday 8th May

Estimated Return Date: 22nd May

Assessment Task 7

Value: 5 %
Due Date: 22/05/2022
Return of Assessment: 22/05/2022
Learning Outcomes: 2,3,4

Quiz 4

Online quiz based on Weeks 8 - 11.

Value: 5%

Date: Quiz is open from Monday 16th May - Sunday 22nd May (11.59 pm).

Assessment Task 8

Value: 40 %
Due Date: 26/05/2022
Return of Assessment: 10/06/2022
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5

Assignment 4 - Video Project

Communicating scientific research to a broad audience can be a difficult. For this task, working in groups of 2 or 3, you will produce a short (3 minute) video to illustrate the environmental history of Horse Island.

Data for this assignment will be generated through the class research project over the semester. The video should be well illustrated including footage and photos from fieldwork and the lab as well as diagrams and figures. Guidance on storyboarding and video editing will given Week 9 for those that need assistance.

Value: 40%

Submission: 26th May

Estimated Return Date: 10th June

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

Unless an exemption has been approved by the Associate Dean (Education) a submission must be through Turnitin. 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

Assignments must include the cover sheet available from the course Wattle site. Please keep a copy of tasks completed for your records. Hardcopy submissions will be made in class.

Late Submission

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

Student work will be returned in class or 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

No resubmission 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).

AsPr Janelle Stevenson

Research Interests

Palaeoecology, Quaternary Environments, Archaeological Science

AsPr Janelle Stevenson

Wednesday 10:00 11:00
Dr Matthew Adeleye
+61 2 6125 4882

Research Interests

Dr Matthew Adeleye

Dr Larissa Schneider
+61 2 6125 4882

Research Interests

Dr Larissa Schneider

Dr Matthew Brookhouse
+61 2 6125 4882

Research Interests

Dr Matthew Brookhouse

Simon Connor

Research Interests

Simon Connor

Dr Simon Haberle
+61 2 6125 4882

Research Interests

Dr Simon Haberle

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