Course Title: Life on Earth

Part A: Course Overview

Course Title: Life on Earth

Credit Points: 12.00


Course Code




Learning Mode

Teaching Period(s)


City Campus


135H Applied Sciences


Sem 1 2015,
Sem 2 2015,
Sem 1 2016,
Sem 2 2016


City Campus


171H School of Science


Sem 2 2017,
Sem 1 2018,
Sem 2 2018,
Sem 1 2019,
Sem 2 2019,
Sem 1 2020,
Sem 2 2021


City Campus


171H School of Science


Sem 1 2021

Course Coordinator: Dr Ravi Shukla

Course Coordinator Phone: +61 3 9925 2970

Course Coordinator Email:

Course Coordinator Location: 003.02.020 (city campus)

Course Coordinator Availability: By appointment, by email

Pre-requisite Courses and Assumed Knowledge and Capabilities

This is an introductory biology course requiring no formal prerequisites, but you will find that knowledge of chemistry at VCE level will be an advantage.


Course Description

The course intended as an introduction to biological structures and function for students from a diverse range of study programs. It is designed to provide you with an overview of how cells are structured and interact to allow organisms to carry out their basic functions followed by an overview of animal and plant structure and diversity. The aim of the course is to develop basic knowledge that will support further study in engineering and environmental sciences. The topics covered include the following: macromolecules and molecular diversity; what defines life; cell and organelle structures and functions; key metabolic process of respiration and photosynthesis, the taxonomic diversity of plants and animals.


The three components of the course are:

  • the cellular unity of life, including cell structure, function, and metabolism. 
  • animal diversity introducing the diversity and adaptation of animals in terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. 
  • plant diversity, aiming to familiarise students with the taxonomy and identification of plants. 

Objectives/Learning Outcomes/Capability Development

This course contributes to the following Program Learning Outcomes (PLOs)

1. Understanding Science

1.1 You will be able to articulate the methods of science and explain why current scientific knowledge is contestable and testable through further inquiry

2. Scientific knowledge:

2.1. You will demonstrate a broad and coherent knowledge and understanding of Earth’s life support system processes.

2.2. You will understand that environmental science has interdisciplinary connections with other sciences

3. Inquiry and problem solving:

3.1. You will be able to critically analyse and solve problems in biological sciences by gathering, synthesizing and critically evaluating information from a range of sources.

4. Communication:

4.1. You will be an effective communicator of Earth’s support systems communicating scientific results, information, or arguments using a range of modes (oral, written, visual) to different audiences.

5. Personal and professional responsibility

5.1 You will be an independent and self-directed learner

5.2 You will work responsibly, safely, legally and ethically in an individual and team context. ill be able to collect, accurately record, interpret, and draw conclusions from scientific data.





On successful completion of this course, you should be able to:

1: Identify and compare prokaryotic, animal and plant cells. 

2: Identify major classes of macromolecules and explain their role in cell structure and function. 

3: Demonstrate an understanding of how solar energy and chemical energies within macromolecules drive metabolism and form the basis of life on the planet earth. 

4: Explain the key features of major plant and animal taxonomic groups and relate animal and plant structures for adaptation to their natural habitat. 

5: Undertake laboratory simulations and observe living animals and plants in the environment and relate observations to theory from the course. 

6: Develop an understanding on the concept structure dictates function and cells as the fundamental building blocks of life. 

Overview of Learning Activities

The learning activities included in this course are: 

  • attendance and participation in the interactive lectorials and discussions 
  • completion of laboratory simulations and quizzes which will provide feedback on student progress and understanding
  • environmental excursions observing living animals and plants in the environment around you and completion of written assignments
  • private study, working through the course as presented in classes and learning materials, and gaining practice at solving conceptual and/or numerical problems 

Overview of Learning Resources

You will undertake an integrated series of immersive learning experiences and activities to develop theoretical and practical understanding of subject matter via the Canvas learning management system. The course web site provides a syllabus, study material, links to access to practical simulations, information on individual assessment and references to additional resources.  

Overview of Assessment

This course has no hurdle requirements. 

Assessment tasks are

Discipline based practical competency exercises and assessment  

Weighting: 30% 

Addresses CLOs 2, 3, 4, and 5


Discipline based authentic theory assessment task      

Weighting: 40%                                                                 

Addresses CLOs 1, 2, 3, and 4 


Seminar/ poster presentation  

Weighting: 20% 

Addresses CLO 6 


Reflective report and discussion                                   

Weighting: 10% 

Addresses CLO 2, 3 and 4