Course Title: Ecotoxicology

Part A: Course Overview

Course Title: Ecotoxicology

Credit Points: 12.00


Course Code




Learning Mode

Teaching Period(s)


Bundoora Campus


135H Applied Sciences


Sem 2 2013,
Sem 2 2015,
Sem 2 2016


Bundoora Campus


171H School of Science


Sem 2 2017,
Sem 2 2018,
Sem 2 2019

Course Coordinator: Prof. Dayanthi Nugegoda

Course Coordinator Phone: +61 3 9925 7150

Course Coordinator Email:

Course Coordinator Location: Bundoora campus 223.1.44

Course Coordinator Availability: By appointment

Pre-requisite Courses and Assumed Knowledge and Capabilities

This course requires knowledge and capabilities from courses in plant and animal structure, classification and physiology, as well as chemistry at first year level, an equivalent course or evidence of equivalent capabilities.

Course Description

This course introduces you to the field of environmental toxicology and teaches you practical skills in pollution sampling techniques and their application to the study of environmental assessment. This course enables you to develop a detailed knowledge of ecotoxicological principles. It prepares  you to utilise ecological sampling techniques in the field to solve applied ecotoxicological problems and in preparing critical scientific reviews, specifically in important areas of ecotoxicology.


Objectives/Learning Outcomes/Capability Development

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

 PLO-1   Scientific knowledge

PLO-2   Critical thinking and problem solving

PLO-3   Application of skills and knowledge

PLO-4   Communication




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


  1. Define critical terms and concepts in ecotoxicology;
  2. Describe and evaluate the biological, ecological and chemical factors affecting toxicity testing;
  3. Differentiate between toxicants in their effects on organisms and ecosystems;
  4. Explain the effects of bioaccumulation and biotransformation in organisms and ecosystems and the impacts of major pollution events such as oil spills;
  5. Describe, discuss and apply tests for pollution using biota.
  6. Describe and evaluate biological indicators of pollution at the habitat and organism level;
  7. Evaluate the risk to ecosystem function from a pollutant


Overview of Learning Activities

The learning activities included in this course are: 

  • attendance at lectures where syllabus material will be presented and explained, and the subject will be illustrated with demonstrations and examples;
  • completion of laboratory projects designed to give further practice in the application of theory and procedures, and to give feedback on student progress and understanding
  • critically reviewing the literature relevant to a prescribed topic and preparing a written report. 
  • preparing and presenting an oral seminar to the lecturers and other students 
  • completion of written assignments consisting of numerical and other problems requiring an integrated understanding of the subject matter; and 
  • private study, working through the course as presented in classes and learning materials, and gaining practice at solving conceptual and simulated problems.

Total Study Hours

Two (2) hours per week for one semester comprising face to face lectures and tutorials.

2-3 hours of laboratory practicals and online activities per week for one semester.

You are also expected to spend a minimum of 4 hours per week in independent study


Overview of Learning Resources

myRMIT and the Learning Hub

Lecture notes and other resources will be provided on the Learning Hub via myRMIT.  However you are cautioned that this is a face-to-face delivery course and material online is for reference only and does not cover all explanations provided in class.  In addition, though practical sheets and results may be provided on the Learning Hub, you are expected to attend all laboratory sessions.

You will be provided with lists of relevant texts, library resources (including appropriate journals) and freely accessible internet sites. Much of the reference material is in journal articles, lecturers will provide information on relevant articles for each topic. Other material will be provided in class.  You will be able to access course information and learning material through the Learning Hub (through myStudies via myRMIT)).

Most reliance will be placed on up-to-date reviews and recent papers in journals. Students wanting other references to be placed on reserve should consult the lecturer. 

Overview of Assessment

Note that:

☐This course has no hurdle requirements.

☒ All hurdle requirements for this course are indicated clearly in the assessment regime that follows, against the relevant assessment task(s) and all have been approved by the College Deputy Pro Vice-Chancellor (Learning & Teaching).

 The assessment for this course is based on


  • Practical reports
  • Literature reviews
  • Seminar presentation
  • Online test
  • Examination.

Assessment Task 1: (lab reports- HURDLE)

You must attend laboratory practical classes and

   achieve a pass mark for the assessment of  

   laboratory reports

Weighting 25%

This assessment task supports CLOs 1,2,5 & 7

Assessment Task 2: (Group Literature review)

Weighting 15%

This assessment task supports CLOs 2,4,5 & 7

Assessment Task 3: (seminar)

Weighting 5%

This assessment task supports CLO 2,6 & 7

Assessment 4: (Online test)

Weighting 5%

This assessment supports CLOs 1-6

Assessment 5: (Written Examination)

Weighting 45%

This assessment supports CLOs 1-7

Assessment 6: (Critical review of journal article/s)

Weighting 5%

This assessment task supports CLOs 2,4,5 & 7