Course Title: Environmental and Culture: Ecological and Aboriginal Understanding of Country (PGR)

Part A: Course Overview

Course Title: Environmental and Culture: Ecological and Aboriginal Understanding of Country (PGR)

Credit Points: 12.00

Important Information:

The five day field trip is a compulsory learning activity. Students who are unable to attend the field trip should not enrol in this course.

Bruce Partland, Angela Foley & Mik Edwards are the teachers for this course.


Course Code




Learning Mode

Teaching Period(s)


City Campus


174T School of VE Engineering, Health & Science


Sem 2 2018,
Sem 2 2019,
Sem 1 2020,
Sem 1 2021,
Sem 2 2021

Course Coordinator: Dinah van Ruyven/Trish Newstead

Course Coordinator Phone: +61 3 9925 4287

Course Coordinator Email:

Pre-requisite Courses and Assumed Knowledge and Capabilities

Students are expected to have completed a Bachelor degree before undertaking this PGR elective

Course Description

You will explore the cultural and ecological underpinnings of Aboriginal knowledge and land use.

In the course.

  • You will be immersed in the iconic Aboriginal ‘cultural landscape’ of Lake Mungo in south western New South Wales or Lake Condah in Western Victoria.
  • You will examine the environmental and social perspectives relating to the interaction between a local Aboriginal group and a unique Australian landscape over millennia.
  • You will conduct field research to examine the relationship between environment and seasonal availability of resources. Emphasis is placed on the Aboriginal group’s historical manipulation of resource availability.
  • You will explore examples of conflict, and co-operation, between Aboriginal and European people in the management of heritage and natural resources.

NOTE: There are material fees associated with this course to cover the cost of the major field trip.

Objectives/Learning Outcomes/Capability Development

You will develop the following capabilities:

  • Environmental and cross cultural awareness
  • Use and respect of cultural protocols
  • Appreciation for Aboriginal technological manipulation of the environment
  • Ability to analyse and evaluate information to complete a range of activities
  • Ability to transmit knowledge, skills and ideas to others
  • Ability to write a reflective journal for academic purposes

The objectives of the course are to: 

  • Develop field research investigation skills and capabilities in making and recording accurate observations.
  • Develop knowledge and awareness of the relationship between environment and culture.
  • Identify key stakeholders in Aboriginal land management and develop awareness of culturally appropriate protocols
  • Develop the ability to apply knowledge of fundamental properties of the environment to local and broader environmental science issues.
  • Conduct and report on a field investigation
  • Recognise the impact on the environment by successive land managers contributing to the modern day cultural landscape
  • Develop reflective writing skills

Overview of Learning Activities

This course will run as an intensive and consist of the following:

  • Preparatory seminars and workshops
  • Field trips around Melbourne and surroundings
  • Mandatory extended field trip (5 days)
  • Post immersion reflections and presentations

Overview of Learning Resources

Information and course materials will be available through Canvas.
Additional resources will be made available as required during the course.

Overview of Assessment

Assessment tasks


Early Assessment Task: Pre Field- trip Reflective journal (1,500 words)
You will be required to maintain a reflective journal based on a specific theme that enables you to keep a record of your learning experiences in this course. You will reflect on how the new knowledge introduced during this course impacts on your understanding of environmental issues and how human interactions with country can be understood. Students may be given the option of making a proposal for this final piece that relates to other areas of their studies such as gender studies, medicine, architecture, planning etc.

While the reflective journal is designed to document your learning experiences you will also be required to move beyond description to self-analysis of these experiences and how participation in this course will impact on your future professional practice.

Weighting 25%

This assessment task supports CLOs 1, 2 & 7

Assessment Task 2: Active participation in evening workshop discussion forums while on the field trip

Weighting 15%

This assessment task supports CLOs  1, 2, 3, 4

 Assessment Task 3: Presentation based on your reflective journal (15 to 20 minutes) based on a specific theme.

Weighting 25%

This assessment task supports CLO 5, 6

Assessment 4: Post field trip reflective journal (3,000 words)

Weighting 35% 

This assessment supports CLOs 1, 2, 3 ,4 5, 6, 7