• Class Number 5468
  • Term Code 3440
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • AsPr Janelle Stevenson
    • Dr Larissa Schneider
    • Dr Matthew Brookhouse
    • Simon Connor
    • Dr Simon Haberle
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 02/04/2024
  • Class End Date 26/05/2024
  • Census Date 12/04/2024
  • Last Date to Enrol 03/04/2024
    • 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. 

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. Explain the natural and anthropogenic drivers of past environmental change at a global, regional and local scale.
  2. Analyse and evaluate the techniques that are used to reconstruct past environmental conditions in Australia and abroad.
  3. Analyse and reconstruct past environmental conditions using advance field and laboratory techniques.
  4. Critique and investigate palaeo-environmental data from a range of sedimentary contexts.
  5. Examine the natural and human influences that comprehend past environmental conditions and formulate 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 3rd March to Sunday 5th March. Data is then gathered and developed over the semester.

Please see the College of Science - Field Trip page for more information.

Field Trips

Murramarang Country (Kioloa Campus, Kioloa)

Participation: this field trip is compulsory

When: Friday 5th April - Monday 8th April

Time: departing from the Fenner Vehicle Compound at 9:00 am Friday 5th April. Back at ANU by 2 pm 8th April.

Approximate Cost: $250


  • Hands on experience coring and sampling a palaeo-wetland deposit
  • Processing of sediment samples for fire history
  • Murramarang Cultural Walk with Uncle Owen Carriage

Data from the field trip will form the basis of the course research project - the palaeoenvironmental history of Murramarang Country.

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


Shared accommodation at the Kioloa Campus. 

All linen etc included.

All meals included (Friday lunch & dinner; Sat and Sun: breakfast, lunch & dinner; Monday breakfast).

What to Bring:

  • Enclosed footwear that you don't care about and are prepared to get wet and very muddy (an old pair of track shoes for example)
  • Spare dry shoes
  • Suitable clothing such as long pants, long sleeves and a hat (for lagoon work board shorts or other shorts are recommended).
  • Water bottle
  • Camera/phone, pens and pencils, notebook
  • Wet weather gear
  • Snacks (optional)

Please see the College of Science - Field Trip page for more information.

Additional Course Costs


Examination Material or equipment

No exams. Quizzes done online through Wattle in class.

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 Lectures to be viewed in advance of Day 1: Course Introduction + The Quaternary + Pollen as a ProxyFace to Face Lab Sessions: Introduction + organising field work logistics + working with microscopes Quiz 1
2 Online Lectures to be viewed in advance of Day 2: Sediments + FireFace to Face Lab Sessions: PollenScape (a 3D introduction to landscape building through palaeoecology) + creating a mini field trip flora guide Quiz 2
3 Online Lectures to be viewed in advance of Day 3: Radiocarbon Dating + Palaeodata BasicsFace to Face Lab Sessions: sediment core description + radiocarbon calibration Quiz 3
4 FIELD TRIP Learning Journal
5 FIELD TRIP Learning Journal
6 FIELD TRIP Learning Journal
8 Online Lectures to be viewed in advance of Day 8: Southeast Australian Landscapes + GeochemistryFace to Face Lab Sessions: Finish data collection + plotting in R Quiz 4
9 Online Lectures to be viewed in advance of Day 9: Human Transformations and the Anthropocene + Palaeodata AnalysisFace to Face Lab Sessions: Palaeodata Analysis Quiz 5
10 Online Lectures to be viewed in advance of Day 10: Biogeography - Palaeoecology - ConservationLab Session: storyboarding the video assignment Quiz 6
11 Online Lectures to be viewed in advance of Day 11: Australian Bee Ecology and PalynologyFace to Face Lab Sessions: Dendrochronology - tree ring measurement
12 Film Night - Date and Venue to be decided with class input: screening of all video assignments

Tutorial Registration

Please register via MyTimetable.

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Learning Outcomes
Quiz 1 3 % 02/04/2024 1,2
Quiz 2 3 % 03/04/2024 1,2
Quiz 3 3 % 04/04/2024 1,2,3
Quiz 4 3 % 09/04/2024 1,2,3
Quiz 5 4 % 10/04/2024 1,2,3,4
Quiz 6 4 % 11/04/2024 1,2,3,4
Learning Journal 20 % 08/04/2024 1,2,3
Literature Review 20 % 21/04/2024 1,2,3,4,5
Video Project 40 % * 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: 3 %
Due Date: 02/04/2024
Learning Outcomes: 1,2

Quiz 1

Details of task: online quiz based on Day 1 required lectures and reading + Day 1 activities

Value: 3%

Date: Quiz is open from Tuesday 2nd April from 3 pm to 11:59 pm.

Please see Wattle site further information.

Assessment Task 2

Value: 3 %
Due Date: 03/04/2024
Learning Outcomes: 1,2

Quiz 2

Details of task: online quiz based on Day 2 required lectures and reading + Day 2 activities

Value: 3%

Date: Quiz is open from Wednesday 3rd April from 3 pm to 11:59 pm.

Please see Wattle site further information.

Assessment Task 3

Value: 3 %
Due Date: 04/04/2024
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3

Quiz 3

Details of task: online quiz based on Day 3 required lectures and reading + Day 3 activities

Value: 3%

Date: Quiz is open from Thursday 4th April from 3 pm to 11:59 pm.

Please see Wattle site further information.

Assessment Task 4

Value: 3 %
Due Date: 09/04/2024
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3

Quiz 4

Details of task: online quiz based on Day 8 required lectures and reading + Day 8 activities

Value: 3%

Date: Quiz is open from Tuesday 9th April from 3 pm to 11:59 pm.

Please see Wattle site further information.

Assessment Task 5

Value: 4 %
Due Date: 10/04/2024
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4

Quiz 5

Details of task: online quiz based all lectures and reading to date + Day 9 activities

Value: 4%

Date: Quiz is open from Wednesday 10th April from 3 pm to 11:59 pm.

Please see Wattle site further information.

Assessment Task 6

Value: 4 %
Due Date: 11/04/2024
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4

Quiz 6

Details of task: online quiz based all lectures reading and lab activities to date.

Value: 4%

Date: Quiz is open from Thursday 11th April from 3 pm to 11:59 pm.

Please see Wattle site further information.

Assessment Task 7

Value: 20 %
Due Date: 08/04/2024
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3

Learning Journal

Learning Journal

The following is an example of a Learning Journal entry for the Fiji field school. It describes what was seen plus a brief personal response.

"Flood Mitigation A high flood risk faces many low-lying island regions, including Nadi, an ocean-side basin region. The area surrounding the Nadi River is particularly prone to flooding, but despite the risk, people still inhabit the area. This is due to factors including the risk of losing money by moving, social/cultural links to the area, and lack of financial ability to leave, showing the social and economic tied into the environment. Nadi has developed coping mechanisms including a flood warning system that sends out text messages and alert tones to reduce human fatalities and the expensive widening of the river to increase its capacity – though I’m unsure how long term these mitigation strategies will work."

This above text is supported by relevant photos of the river, river level gauge, or engineered structures that control flooding.  

Value: 20%

Date: three entries - one per day - Friday, Saturday, Sunday. Final submission 11:59 pm Monday 8th April.

Assessment Task 8

Value: 20 %
Due Date: 21/04/2024
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5

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 - 3,000 words). 

Speak with Janelle or Vicki 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 21st April

Please see Wattle site further information.

Assessment Task 9

Value: 40 %
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5

Video Project

Communicating scientific research to a broad non-scientific audience can be a difficult.

For this task and working in groups of 2 or 3, you will produce a short (3 minute) video to illustrate the environmental history of Murramarang Country (Kioloa).

Data for the assignment will be generated through the class research project.

The video should be well illustrated, including footage and photos from fieldwork and the lab, as well as creative interpretations of the data that do not rely on standard scientific diagrams and reporting.Guidance on storyboarding will be given as well as examples of previous submissions.

A trial peer assessment of the video assignment will also be run over the field trip weekend.

Value: 40%

Submission Date: TBD

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 Larissa Schneider

Research Interests

Palaeoecology, Quaternary Environments, Archaeological Science

Dr Larissa Schneider

Dr Matthew Brookhouse

Research Interests

Palaeoecology, Quaternary Environments, Archaeological Science

Dr Matthew Brookhouse

Simon Connor

Research Interests

Simon Connor

Dr Simon Haberle

Research Interests

Palaeoecology, Quaternary Environments, Archaeological Science

Dr Simon Haberle

Vicki Miller

Research Interests

Vicki Miller


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