• Class Number 7349
  • Term Code 3360
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • Dr Rachael Brown
    • Dr Rachael Brown
  • 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

This course examines biology at a general, conceptual level.  Topics include the diversity of life on (and off) Earth, what biology can tell us about human nature, how to understand the role of adaptation and evolutionary theory more generally in the biological sciences and the role of biology in conservation efforts.

Learning Outcomes

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

Upon completion of this course, students will have the knowledge and skills to:
  1. Understand current conceptual issues in evolutionary biology and genetics;
  2. Appreciate of some of the methods of philosophy of science; and,
  3. Critically question scientific orthodoxy.

Research-Led Teaching

This course focuses on topics which are at the forefront of discussion in Philosophy of Biology today. Contemporary research papers and discussions with contemporary researchers are a feature of this unit. Although a broad range of topics are covered, there is a particular focus on questions relating to human nature, cultural evolution and the evolution of cognition as these are the areas in which the convenor, Dr. Rachael L. Brown is currently completing work. Further to this

Required Resources

All resources will be available on Wattle.

All resources are available on Wattle.

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.

Class Schedule

Week/Session Summary of Activities Assessment
1 Introduction to UnitIs There Such a Thing as "Human Nature"? I
2 Is There Such a Thing as "Human Nature"? II Reading response quiz (in tutorial)
3 Do Your Genes Make You Who You Are? Reading response quiz (in tutorial)
4 The Metaphysics of Pregnancy Reading response quiz (in tutorial)Assignment I Due 14/8
5 What is Disease? Reading response quiz (in tutorial)
6 The Myth of Biological Race Reading response quiz (in tutorial)
7 Is it Alive? Viruses, aliens and artificial life Reading response quiz (in tutorial)
8 Adaptationism and the Orgasm Wars Reading response quiz (in tutorial)Assignment II Due 25/9
9 Did Darwin Kill Morality? Reading response quiz (in tutorial)
10 Does Culture Evolve? Reading response quiz (in tutorial)
11 From Climate to COVID-19: Modeling the World Reading response quiz (in tutorial)
12 Biodiversity: Why bother? Reading response quiz (in tutorial)

Tutorial Registration

Via Timetabling

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Learning Outcomes
Reading Response Quizzes 20 % * 1-3
Assignment I 20 % 14/08/2023 1-3
Assignment III 30 % 06/11/2023 1-3
Assignment II 30 % 25/09/2023 1-3

* 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.


There are no examinations for this class.

Assessment Task 1

Value: 20 %
Learning Outcomes: 1-3

Reading Response Quizzes

Doing the reading and coming to class (on time) are necessary for meeting the course objectives. The weekly reading response quiz assessment is designed to help you stay on top of that, help me assess your progress, and get you thinking critically about the course material.

Each week at the beginning of the tutorial (i.e., from week 2-12) you will have 10 minutes to complete a short written quiz (<100 words) which you will submit during class in hardcopy. These questions will not be difficult to answer if you have done the assigned readings carefully and been attentive during lectures. Reading response quizzes will be marked with a Pass/Fail and final grade for the overall assessment allocated as outlined below.

Reading response quizzes cannot be made up if you are late, sick, or otherwise absent.

Final grade for the assessment will be allocated as follows:

9 or more passed quizzes: 100% (this is to allow for the occasional missed class due to illness, enrolment delay, etc. without your overall mark suffering)

8 passed quizzes: 85%

7 passed quizzes: 70%

6 passed quizzes: 55%

5 passed quizzes: 40%

4 passed quizzes: 25%

Fewer than 3 passed quizzes: 0 

Assessment Task 2

Value: 20 %
Due Date: 14/08/2023
Learning Outcomes: 1-3

Assignment I

  • A written task (equivalent 1000 words) concerning the material covered in weeks 1 and 2 of the class.
  • To be submitted to Turnitin by 5pm, Monday 14/8

Assessment Task 3

Value: 30 %
Due Date: 06/11/2023
Learning Outcomes: 1-3

Assignment III

  • A written task (equivalent to 1500 words) concerning material covered in weeks 8-12 of the class.
  • To be submitted to Turnitin by 5pm, Monday 06/11

Assessment Task 4

Value: 30 %
Due Date: 25/09/2023
Learning Outcomes: 1-3

Assignment II

  • A written task (equivalent to 1500 words) concerning material covered in weeks 3-7 of the class.
  • To be submitted to Turnitin by 5pm, Monday 25/09

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

Submission of reading response quizzes will be in hardcopy, in person during tutorial.

Late Submission

  • Late submission permitted.
  • Where an assignment is submitted after the due date, students are penalised by five per cent of the possible marks available for the assessment task per 24 hour block or part thereof, after the submission deadline, excluding time periods that are not working days.
  • Late assessments will not be accepted after 10th working day following the due date.

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

Return of assessments will be via Turnitin.

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.

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).

Dr Rachael Brown

Research Interests

Philosophy of Biology, Philosophy of Cognitive Science, Philosophy of Science

Dr Rachael Brown

By Appointment
By Appointment
Dr Rachael Brown

Research Interests

Dr Rachael Brown

By Appointment
By Appointment

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