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 1 2017,
Sem 2 2017,
Sem 1 2018,
Sem 2 2018

Course Coordinator: Ravi Shukla

Course Coordinator Phone: +61 3 9925 2970

Course Coordinator Email:

Course Coordinator Location: 3.1.11

Course Coordinator Availability: Please email me for an appointment, if necessary

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 structure and function for you from a diverse range of 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, diversity and reproduction. The aim of the course is to develop knowledge that will support further study in biological 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 and function, cell metabolism and evolution;
  • animal diversity introducing the diversity and interaction of animals in terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems;
  • plant diversity, aiming to familiarise students with the taxonomy and identification of plants, in particular native plant families.

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. Explain the concept of cells as the fundamental building blocks of life. Identify and compare prokaryotic, animal and plant cells.

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

3. Demonstrate an understanding of how solar and chemical energy drives metabolism and forms the basis of life at planet earth.

4. Explain the key features of major plant and animal taxonomic groups and relate animal and plant structures to their functions.

5. Demonstrate ability to undertake laboratory procedures useful to investigating cellular structure and process. Interpret experimental data and draw appropriate conclusions based on theoretical concepts.

6. Demonstrate a practical and conceptual knowledge of cell and organismal biology to undertake further studies in plant and animal biology, ecology and environmental sciences.


Overview of Learning Activities

The learning activities included in this course are:

  • attendance at lectures and laboratory classes
  • private study of lectures and online questions
  • completion of regular online tests
  • completion and reporting of laboratory exercises
  • completion and reporting of group activity exercises

Total Study Hours

Ten (10) hours per week for one semester comprising face to face lectures (2 h), laboratory sessions (2h).

A minimum of 1-2 hours group activity and 5-6 hours of private study and online activities per week are recommended.


Overview of Learning Resources

The course web site provides a syllabus, lecture notes, handouts for laboratory practicals and group activity, sample assignments and test questions, and references to additional resources.

A textbook is required, and additional readings are provided


Overview of Assessment

This course has no hurdle requirements.

Assessment tasks are

  1. Laboratory work (weighing 25%) Assessed on written answer sheets and biological drawings and diagrams completed from observations of biological specimens.       Supports CLOs 4, 5 and 6)
  2.  Four open book Online quizzes (weighing 15%) [two each for cell biology, one each for animal and plant biology sections]      Supports CLOs 1,2,3 and 4)
  3.  Group activity and presentation (weighing 25%) Supports CLOs 3 and 6) 
  4. End of semester examination (weighing 35%)   Supports CLOs 1,2,3 and 4)