• Class Number 3346
  • Term Code 3330
  • 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 20/02/2023
  • Class End Date 26/05/2023
  • Census Date 31/03/2023
  • Last Date to Enrol 27/02/2023
    • Vicki Miller
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. 

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. Compile palaeo-environmental data from a range of sedimentary contexts.
  5. Reflect on the natural and human influences that explain past environmental conditions and demonstrate these effectively to 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 3rd March to Sunday 5th March. Data is then gathered and developed over the semester.

Field Trips

Bega Swamp (Glenbog State Forest - edge of escarpment near Nimmitabel)

Participation:  this field trip is compulsory

When: departing from the Fenner Vehicle Compound Friday 3rd March at 6:00 am - back on campus around 6pm.

Approximate Cost: There is no additional cost associated with this activity.


Hands on experience coring and sampling a palaeo-wetland deposit

Vegetation surveys

Data from the field trip will form the basis of the course research project on the palaeoenvironmental history of Bega Swamp.

More detail about field trip activities will be available during the Introductory Lab in Week 1.

What to Bring:

Enclosed footwear that you are prepared to get wet and muddy (rubber boots are a great idea)

Spare pair of dry shoes

Suitable clothing such as long pants, long sleeves and a hat

Lunch and snacks, water bottle

Camera/phone, pens and pencils, workbook

Wet weather gear

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

Additional Course Costs


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). 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 Students should refer to the Wattle site for the most current delivery and assessment 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
3 Online: Fire Lab Session: Sampling for charcoal + PollenScape
4 Online: Radiocarbon Dating + Isotopes Lab Session: Calibrating C14 ages + Charcoal Counting
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
7 Online: Human Impact and the Anthropocene Lab Session: Class Discussion + Introduction to Data Plotting
8 Online: Palaeodata Analysis - 'Advanced' Lab Session: Class discussion of palaeodata presentation + our data so far
9 Online: Biogeography and Palaeoecology Lab Session: island biogeography game + storyboarding for video
10 ?Online: Palaeoecology and Conservation Lab Session: Group Discussion + continuation of video project work
11 Online: Dendrochronology Lab Session: Tree Ring Measurement
12 Lab Session: Finalising Video Assignment Film Extravaganza Evening

Tutorial Registration

Please register via MyTimetable.

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Learning Outcomes
Quiz 1 5 % 19/03/2023 1,2
Quiz 2 5 % 02/04/2023 1,2
Assignment 1 – Lab Workbook - Part 1 15 % 02/04/2023 1,2,3
Quiz 3 5 % 30/04/2023 1,2,3
Assignment 2 - Lab workbook - Part 2 15 % 07/05/2023 1,2,3,4,5
Quiz 4 5 % 21/05/2023 1,2,3
Assignment 3 - Video Project 50 % 24/05/2023 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 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.


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: 19/03/2023
Learning Outcomes: 1,2

Quiz 1

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

Value: 5%

Date: Quiz is open from Wednesday 15th March - Sunday 19th March (11.59 pm)

Please see Wattle site further information.

Assessment Task 2

Value: 5 %
Due Date: 02/04/2023
Learning Outcomes: 1,2

Quiz 2

Online quiz based on Weeks 4-6.

Value: 5%

Date: Quiz is open from Wednesday 29th March - Sunday 2nd April (11.59 pm).

Please see Wattle site further information.

Assessment Task 3

Value: 15 %
Due Date: 02/04/2023
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3

Assignment 1 – Lab Workbook - Part 1

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

Value: 15%

Submission: via Turnitin by 11.59 pm 2nd April

Please see Wattle site further information.

Assessment Task 4

Value: 5 %
Due Date: 30/04/2023
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3

Quiz 3

Online quiz based on Weeks 6 - 8.

Value: 5%

Date: Quiz is open from Wednesday 26th April - Sunday 30th April (11.59 pm).

Please see Wattle site further information.

Assessment Task 5

Value: 15 %
Due Date: 07/05/2023
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5

Assignment 2 - 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: 15%

Submission: via Turnitin by 11.59 pm Sunday 7th May

Please see Wattle site further information.

Assessment Task 6

Value: 5 %
Due Date: 21/05/2023
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3

Quiz 4

Online quiz based on Weeks 8 - 11.

Value: 5%

Date: Quiz is open from Wednesday 17th May - Sunday 21st May (11.59 pm).

Please see Wattle site further information.

Assessment Task 7

Value: 50 %
Due Date: 24/05/2023
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5

Assignment 3 - 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: 50%

Submission: 24th May

Please see Wattle site further information.

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

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

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

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

Research Interests

Dr Matthew Adeleye

Dr Larissa Schneider

Research Interests

Dr Larissa Schneider

Dr Matthew Brookhouse

Research Interests

Dr Matthew Brookhouse

Simon Connor

Research Interests

Simon Connor

Dr Simon Haberle

Research Interests

Dr Simon Haberle

Vicki Miller

Research Interests

Vicki Miller

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