Course Title: Ecotoxicology

Part A: Course Overview

Course Title: Ecotoxicology

Credit Points: 12.00


Course Code




Learning Mode

Teaching Period(s)


City Campus


135H Applied Sciences


Sem 2 2006,
Sem 2 2008,
Sem 2 2009,
Sem 2 2011,
Sem 2 2012,
Sem 2 2013,
Sem 2 2015,
Sem 2 2016


City Campus


171H School of Science


Sem 2 2017,
Sem 2 2018,
Sem 2 2019,
Sem 2 2020


Open Learning Australia

Non Award

171H School of Science

Distance / Correspondence


Flexible Terms

Course Code




Learning Mode

Teaching Period(s)




171H School of Science


OUACSP2020 (All)

Course Coordinator: Professor Dayanthi Nugegoda

Course Coordinator Phone: +613 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 animal and plant structure, classification and physiology, as well as chemistry at first year level, equivalent courses or comparable knowledge and skills.

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.

 You will be guided through the course by structured lectures face to face or online, preceding relevant practical classes in the laboratory or in the field to achieve competence in technical skills. The normal modes of teaching will be approximately 2 hours of lectures followed by 2-4 hours of practical work each week, but this will be varied according to the particular educational objectives for the topic. 

Tutorials will be conducted informally as the need arises.


Objectives/Learning Outcomes/Capability Development

This course is particularly important in developing the graduate attributes of: knowledgability, critical-thinking ability, responsibility, ethical behaviour, employability, adaptability, competency in technical skills, self-directed and motivated learning skills, problem-solving ability and good communication skills (written, verbal and interpersonal). 

This course contributes to the following Program Learning Outcomes in BP229 Bachelor of Science (Applied Sciences): 

2. Scientific knowledge

PLO-2.1 You will have broad knowledge in your chosen discipline, with deep knowledge in its core concepts

 3. Inquiry and Problem Solving

PLO-3.1   You will be able to plan and carry out a research project under supervision, showing the development of some capacity for independent work

PLO-3.2 You will be able to gather, critically review and synthesise information relevant to a scientific inquiry or research project.

5. Personal and professional responsibility

PLO-5.1 You will develop a capacity for independent and self-directed work.

PLO-5.2 You will work responsibly, safely, legally and ethically


The main objective is for you to be introduced to applied ecotoxicology.

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

Total of 120 hours of study is expected in this course comprising:

Teacher-directed learning (60 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.

Student-directed learning (60 hours):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 students are cautioned that this is a face-to-face delivery course and material online is for reference.  In addition, although practical sheets and results may be provided on the Learning Hub, students are expected to attend all laboratory sessions in order to submit a practical report.

Students 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. Students will be able to access course information and learning material through myRMIT (also known as the Learning Hub).

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


Overview of Assessment

Note that: This course has no hurdle requirements.


Assessment Task 1: Practical Component

The skills learned in Practicals are essential to ensure that you have practical experience in ecotoxicology tests and risk assessment of pollutants. You must attend laboratory practical classes to write up your reports. You must achieve a pass in the practical component, demonstrating that you have the skills in practical methods in ecotoxicology to pass the course.

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 CLOs 2, 6 & 7

Assessment 4: Online Test

Weighting 5%

This assessment supports CLOs 1-6

Assessment 5: Written Examination

Weighting 50%

This assessment supports CLOs 1-7