• Offered by Biology Teaching and Learning Centre
  • ANU College ANU Joint Colleges of Science
  • Course subject Biology
  • Areas of interest Science Communication, Evolution and Ecology
  • Academic career PGRD
  • Course convener
    • Prof Celeste Linde
    • Prof Michael Jennions
  • Mode of delivery In Person
  • Offered in First Semester 2024
    Second Semester 2024
    See Future Offerings
  • STEM Course

This course is offered in online mode only.

In this course, you will critically read the biological literature to better understand how to effectively present scientific findings. You will learn to evaluate arguments, methods and lines of evidence. You will assess how well the conclusions drawn from studies are justified. Strong emphasis will be placed on improving your scientific writing skills. This will involve exploration of:

  • why it is worth learning to write well (Hint: to find out what you understand and develop your critical thinking)
  • planning the structure of a piece of writing (Hint: You have to know which story you wish to tell)
  • the curse of knowledge (Hint: you usually know more about a topic than your reader. This makes it easy to forget that you are failing to provide the reader with information that they need)
  • the psychology of the reader (Hint: learn to read your own writing from the viewpoint of the average reader)
  • basic rules of sentence construction to facilitate understanding, and to reduce ambiguity
  • the value of extensive revision and editing

By reading articles on specific biological topics, this course will equip you to consider the following more deeply:

  • the contestability of scientific knowledge
  • science as a profession, enacted by real people
  • how scientist evaluate evidence through critical reading & analysis
  • how scientists collect, use and communicate evidence to support their arguments

Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Engage in an independent investigation and evaluation of selected biology research topics.
  2. Critically evaluate research literature and communicate the key findings.
  3. Apply professional standards of conduct when writing about scientific research.
  4. Write up scientific research in a manner than is easy to read and understand.
  5. Improve your ability to provide feedback to others.

Indicative Assessment

  1. Weekly in-class quizzes (up to 10 quizzes, each worth the same) (20) [LO 2,3,4]
  2. Structured writing assignments (up to 3 assignment, each worth the same) (30) [LO 1,2,3,4,5]
  3. Capstone Essay (50) [LO 1,2,3,4]

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:

Face-to-face component which may consist of 10 x 3 hour workshops/lectures/discussion groups (30 hours)

Individual student self-study by reading and evaluating articles, media postings or book chapters (approximately 35 hours)

Individual student self-study by writing, editing and revising 3 assignments (3 x 5 hours = approximately 15 hours)

Individual student self-study researching, writing and editing a capstone essay (approximately 50 hours)

Inherent Requirements

To be determined

Requisite and Incompatibility

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

Prescribed Texts

Steven Pinker book 'A Sense of Style' is highly recommended. Copies will be made available if required.

Preliminary Reading

Articles or books will be provided as required. Their identity will vary from year to year in response to what topics are currently of mainstream interest (e.g. currently in the headlines)

Assumed Knowledge

It is highly recommended that BIOL8291 is undertaken prior to this course.
Completion of 48 units towards the program.


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
2024 $4440
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2024 $6360
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
2800 19 Feb 2024 26 Feb 2024 05 Apr 2024 24 May 2024 In Person View

Second Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
7788 22 Jul 2024 29 Jul 2024 31 Aug 2024 25 Oct 2024 In Person View

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