Course Title: Ecology

Part A: Course Overview

Course Title: Ecology

Credit Points: 12.00


Course Code




Learning Mode

Teaching Period(s)


City Campus


135H Applied Sciences


Sem 2 2008,
Sem 2 2009,
Sem 2 2010,
Sem 2 2011,
Sem 2 2012


Open Learning Australia

Non Award

171H School of Science

Distance / Correspondence


Flexible Terms

Course Code




Learning Mode

Teaching Period(s)




171H School of Science


OUACSP2021 (All)

Course Coordinator: Dr Catherine Leigh

Course Coordinator Phone: +61 3 9925 1945

Course Coordinator Email:

Course Coordinator Location: Bundoora campus 223.1A.6A

Course Coordinator Availability: by appointment and during office hours (schedule will be made available when semester commences

Pre-requisite Courses and Assumed Knowledge and Capabilities

Assumed knowledge and capabilities from ONPS2334 Scientific Skills & Communication; BIOL2146 Cell Structure & Function; and CHEM1242 Chemistry Principles. Additionally beneficial courses include BIOL2258 Animal Structure & Function; BIOL2151 Animal Diversity; BIOL2156 Plant Structure & Function; BIOL2270 Plant Diversity. 

Course Description

This course covers theoretical ecology and practical skills in ecological surveying, analysis, critical evaluation and report writing, enabling the study of ecological systems and applied ecological problems. Topics covered are:

  • Basic ecological principles – individual to population level. Evolution, natural selection and adaptation, population sizes and distributions, population growth and dynamics.
  • Basic ecological principles - community to ecosystem level. Biotic interactions and food webs, community structure and dynamics, biodiversity, disturbance and succession, energy flows, productivity and nutrient cycling, large-scale ecology.
  • Practical ecology. Experimental design, survey techniques for aquatic and terrestrial habitats, assessment of environmental quality and factors influencing populations, communities and ecosystems.
  • Applied ecology. Environmental degradation and management, invasive species, biodiversity loss, habitat loss and fragmentation, climate change and extreme climatic events.

Objectives/Learning Outcomes/Capability Development

This course contributes to the following Program Learning Outcomes at AQF level 7:

  • PLO 2 Scientific knowledge
  • PLO 3 Inquiry and problem solving
  • PLO 4 Communication

This course contributes to the following Program Learning Outcomes at AQF level 9:

  • PLO 1.1 A body knowledge that includes the understanding of recent developments in both the understanding of environmental processes and the technological advances in measurement techniques, remediation processes and pollution control.
  • PLO 1.2 Knowledge of the research principles and methods applicable to studying the chemical, biological and physical processes occurring in the environment.
  • PLO 2.2 Cognitive, technical and creative skills enabling you to investigate analyse and synthesise complex information, problems, concepts and theories about the environment and to apply established theories to different areas of knowledge or practice concerning the environment.
  • PLO 2.5 Technical and communication skills to design, evaluate, implement, analyse and theorise about developments that contribute to environmental professional practice or scholarship.

Course Learning Outcomes (CLOs)

On completion of this course you should be able to: 

CLO 1. Explain the key structural components and energy flows for a variety of ecosystems and the principles of population and community ecology. 

CLO 2. Explain major factors affecting ecosystems and describe the main features of ecosystem degradation, management of species and habitat, and ecosystem health assessment. 

CLO 3. Select and apply appropriate methods to survey terrestrial and aquatic habitats for their important biological, physical and chemical components and environmental quality. 

CLO 4. Analyse and critically evaluate ecological data. 


Postgraduate students should also be able to: 

CLO 5. Critically evaluate published , scientific literature. 

Overview of Learning Activities

Attendance at lectures/lectorials, laboratory practicals and field excursions, whether delivered online, face-to-face or in blended learning mode. Completion of assignments and practical projects designed to give further practice in the application of theory and procedure, and to give feedback on your progress and understanding. Completion of written assignments requiring an integrated understanding of the subject matter. Excursions or online equivalents will introduce you to various habitats and methods of conducting surveys, identifying organisms, and collecting and analysing data. Private study, working through the course material as presented in classes and learning materials, and gaining practice at solving conceptual problems. 

Overview of Learning Resources

The course website provides a syllabus, lecture notes, handouts and links for online/face-to-face/blended practical activities, where relevant, and references to additional resources. A textbook is recommended. 

Overview of Assessment

Note that this course has no hurdle requirements.

Assessment 1: Quizzes
Weighting 15% for undergraduates, 10% for postgraduates
This assessment supports CLOs 1,2,3 & 4

 Assessment 2: Excursion and practical reports
Weighting 50%
This assessment supports CLOs 1, 2, 3 & 4

Assessment 3: Authentic Assessment: understanding and applying concepts
Weighting 35% for undergraduates, 2025% for postgraduates
This assessment supports CLOs 1, 2 & 4

The postgraduate course also includes

Assessment 4: Annotated bibliography
Weighting 15%
This assessment supports CLO 5