• Class Number 6095
  • Term Code 3360
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • Prof Robert Heinsohn
    • Murraya Lane
    • Dr Rachael Gross
    • Shoshana Rapley
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 24/07/2023
  • Class End Date 27/10/2023
  • Census Date 31/08/2023
  • Last Date to Enrol 31/07/2023
SELT Survey Results

Biodiversity Science introduces the principles and skills that underpin evidence-based conservation and management of biodiversity. Key topics include understanding why species occur where they occur, how to measure biodiversity, examining responses by species to human impacts and understanding how species become vulnerable to extinction.

This course has a strong emphasis on developing practical skills. You will gain experience surveying and identifying animals and plants. You will also learn how to use these data to support evidence-based conservation and management.

This course is delivered through a combination of weekly lectures and practical sessions, with input from world leaders in conservation biology. The practical sessions include regular field trips and interactions with public and private land managers, including a trip to Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve.

This course develops fundamental knowledge and practical skills that are necessary for graduates seeking careers in natural resource management and other areas of environmental science. It also provides important background for those wishing to pursue careers in any field that potentially impacts on biodiversity (e.g. environmental policy and planning). This course provides the scientific underpinnings for the concepts explored in ENVS6024 Biodiversity Conservation.

This course is co-taught with undergraduate students but assessed separately.

Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Identify key factors that influence the distribution of species.
  2. Demonstrate understanding about the complex linkages between abiotic and biotic components of ecosystems.
  3. Identify and apply appropriate techniques for measuring biodiversity in a range of different environments and circumstances.
  4. Develop and test hypotheses about the impacts of human activities on biodiversity.
  5. Effectively interpret and critique data about biodiversity using a range of analytical and communication techniques to a range of audiences.

Research-Led Teaching

This course has an emphasis on inquiry and practical-based learning. This course will feature weekly fieldtrips and input from a range of leading researchers and professionals involved in conservation management. 

Field Trips

There are a range of weekly field trips in the 4-hour workshop session on Friday afternoons. No additional costs.

Please see the CoS Field Trip page for more information.

Examination Material or equipment

The examination is conducted online via Wattle so you need access to a computer and reliable internet connection

Required Resources

When in the field, sturdy shoes, hat, rainjacket, clipboard, water bottle

Laptop computer

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:

  • we provide feedback for every question in workshop assignments along with generic feedback to the class, including the mean mark
  • for written assignments we provide edits and comments on your report, feedback against each of the marking criteria and generic feedback to the class including the mean mark
  • students will have an opportunity to discuss their draft research assignments with the lecturers or demonstrators
  • lectures and demonstrators are available by appointment throughout the semester.

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). Feedback can also be provided to Course Conveners and teachers via the Student Experience of Learning & Teaching (SELT) feedback program. SELT surveys are confidential and also provide the Colleges and ANU Executive with opportunities to recognise excellent teaching, and opportunities for improvement.

Class Schedule

Week/Session Summary of Activities Assessment
1 This is indicative only and may change. This course has guest lecturers whose availability may change.*all field work is subject to change/cancellation due to weather. A detailed course outline will be available in Wattle. A detailed schedule of due dates for assessment items will be available in Wattle.
2 Week 1Why conserve biodiversity and course introduction Biodiversity: An introduction Introduction & proposed assessment
3 Week 2Defining and measuring biodiversityThe 6th mass extinction event
4 Week 3Biodiversity databases and citizen science platformsWhy do species occur where they occur?
5 Week 4Conservation genetics
6 Week 5Experimental design and analysis and report writing
7 Week 6Conservations of populations on the brinkDesigning biodiversity surveys 
8 Second week of mid-semester break
9 Week 7Populations, metapopulations and extinction
10 Week 8Vegetation as a surrogate for biodiversity 
11 Week 9Ecological communities
12 Week 10Ecosystem services
13 Week 11Landscape ecology
14 Week 12Moving from biodiversity science to biodiversity conservation/policyReview of course material

Tutorial Registration


Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Learning Outcomes
Workshop assignments 30 % * 1,2,3,4,5
Poster 20 % * 1,2,4,5
Research report 20 % * 1,2,3,4,5
Exam 30 % 02/11/2023 1,2,3,4

* 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 Integrity 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 Skills website. 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.


There is no mark for participation, but you must attend a workshop in order to submit the associated workshop assignment.


The date range in the Assessment Summary indicates the start of the end-of-semester exam period and the date official end-of-semester results are released on ISIS. Please check the course Wattle site and the ANU final Examination Timetable http://www.anu.edu.au/students/program-administration/assessments-exams/examination-timetable to confirm the date, time and location of the exam.

Assessment Task 1

Value: 30 %
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5

Workshop assignments

There are a total of 6 workshop assignments that are due the week after each workshop. You must attend the workshop to submit the associated assignment. A detailed description of each workshop will be provided on the Wattle site. All workshop assignments must be completed online in Wattle. There are 6 assignments due over the semester. The marked workshop assignments will be returned within 1 week after submission. Further details can be found on the Wattle site.

Assessment Task 2

Value: 20 %
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,4,5


You will produce a poster and a short (~3 min) presentation on the impacts of one or more pressures on a species or ecological community of your choice. See Wattle site for details.

Assessment Task 3

Value: 20 %
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5

Research report

You will develop a research question and answer it using an existing dataset supplemented by data collected on one of the weekly fieldtrips. This report is written in the style of a scientific journal article. More information is provided on the Wattle site and there will be an information session about the report in Week 5.

Assessment Task 4

Value: 30 %
Due Date: 02/11/2023
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4


There is an exam at the end of semester during the examination period that is undertaken online via Wattle. The exam is based on material in preparatory exercises (i.e., reading material), lectures and practicals. It is open book. There will be a revision session in Week 12 and practice questions to help you prepare. More information will be available in Wattle. This task will occur during the examination period at a time determined by ANU Timetabling. The due date therefore reflects the first day of the examination period in which ANU Timetabling will allocate the exam time and the return date reflects the date that Semester 2 results are released.

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is a core part of the ANU culture as a community of scholars. The University’s students are an integral part of that community. The academic integrity principle commits all students to engage in academic work in ways that are consistent with, and actively support, academic integrity, and to uphold this commitment by behaving honestly, responsibly and ethically, and with respect and fairness, in scholarly practice.

The University expects all staff and students to be familiar with the academic integrity principle, the Academic Integrity Rule 2021, the Policy: Student Academic Integrity and Procedure: Student Academic Integrity, and to uphold high standards of academic integrity to ensure the quality and value of our qualifications.

The Academic Integrity Rule 2021 is a legal document that the University uses to promote academic integrity, and manage breaches of the academic integrity principle. The Policy and Procedure support the Rule by outlining overarching principles, responsibilities and processes. The Academic Integrity Rule 2021 commences on 1 December 2021 and applies to courses commencing on or after that date, as well as to research conduct occurring on or after that date. Prior to this, the Academic Misconduct Rule 2015 applies.


The University commits to assisting all students to understand how to engage in academic work in ways that are consistent with, and actively support academic integrity. All coursework students must complete the online Academic Integrity Module (Epigeum), and Higher Degree Research (HDR) students are required to complete research integrity training. The Academic Integrity website provides information about services available to assist students with their assignments, examinations and other learning activities, as well as understanding and upholding academic integrity.

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

Late submission of assessment tasks without an extension is 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

The Academic Skills website has information to assist you with your writing and assessments. The website includes information about Academic Integrity including referencing requirements for different disciplines. There is also information on Plagiarism and different ways to use source material.

Returning Assignments

All assignments are marked in Wattle. An email notification will be sent when your assignment is marked.

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

In exceptional circumstances the convenor will allow an assignment to be resubmitted, but this must be negotiated in person with the convenor.

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 Robert Heinsohn

Research Interests

conservation biology, ecology, threatened species, sustainable farming

Prof Robert Heinsohn

By Appointment
Murraya Lane

Research Interests

conservation biology, ecology, threatened species, sustainable farming

Murraya Lane

Dr Rachael Gross

Research Interests

Dr Rachael Gross

Shoshana Rapley

Research Interests

conservation biology, ecology, threatened species, sustainable farming

Shoshana Rapley


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