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


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: Email for appointment

Pre-requisite Courses and Assumed Knowledge and Capabilities

You will find that knowledge of biology and chemistry at VCE level will be an advantage, as will completion of courses in plant and animal identification, structure and function.

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


At the end of the course, you should be able to:

  1. Explain the key structural components and energy flows for a variety of ecosystems and the principles of population and community ecology.
  2. Explain major factors affecting ecosystems and describe the main features of ecosystem degradation, management of species and habitat, and ecosystem health assessment.
  3. Select and apply appropriate methods to survey terrestrial and aquatic habitats for their main biological components and environmental quality.
  4. Analyse and critically evaluate ecological data.

Overview of Learning Activities

The learning activities required for this course are:

  • Attendance at lectures and practicals, 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.
  • Private study, working through the course material as presented in classes and learning materials, and gaining practice at solving conceptual and numerical problems.

Total Study Hours

Most weeks include 2-4 hours of pre-recorded materials and recommended. There is also an intensive practical week involving laboratory sessions and/or field excursions presented in an online and/or face-to-face mode.

A minimum of 4 hours per week of independent study is recommended.

Overview of Learning Resources

You will be provided with lists of relevant texts, library resources (including appropriate journal articles) and freely accessible internet sites. Other material will be provided in classes.

You will be able to access course information and learning material via the course website.

Overview of Assessment

Course assessment comprises practical reports, assignments, and tests, including quizzes.


Assessment 1: Lab Quizzes

Weighting 15%

This assessment supports CLOs 1,2,3 & 4


Assessment 2: Excursion and practical reports

Weighting 50%

This assessment supports CLOs 1, 2, 3 & 4

You must attend and complete all practical and excursion-related activities in order to receive credit for each report


Assessment 3: End-of-course test

Weighting 35%

This assessment supports CLOs 1, 2 & 4