Studying online

There are now 2 possible online modes for units:

Units with modes Online timetabled and Online flexible are available for any student to self-enrol and study online.

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Unit Overview


The objective of this unit is to provide a foundation in ecological science that allows students to understand the biological and environmental drivers of where species occur and how species interact with each other to form functional ecosystems. It covers basic principles in ecology including community and population structure and dynamics; biogeography; productivity and trophic relationships; and nutrient and water cycling processes. The unit also develops an evolutionary and biogeographical framework to understand biodiversity and rarity of plants and animals in terrestrial and marine environments. It emphasises timescales and spatial scales and their importance to processes of evolution and environmental change in Australia. Human impacts on species and ecosystems are a recurring theme. Guest lecturers who are practising ecologists provide specialist knowledge, case studies and hot topics in ecology. Ecological methods, taught during laboratory sessions and a field trip, focus on ecological sampling techniques and experimental approaches to ecology. There is an emphasis on the scientific method, in particular the development and testing of hypotheses, and scientific reporting, both in writing and verbally.

6 points
(see Timetable)
Semester 1UWA (Perth)Face to face
Semester 1AlbanyFace to face
Details for undergraduate courses
  • Level 2 core unit in the Conservation Biology; Botany; Wildlife Conservation; Marine Science; Marine Biology; Environmental Science and Ecology; Biodiversity and Evolution; Plant Biology major sequences
  • Level 2 option in the Zoology major sequence
  • Level 2 elective

Students are able to (1) demonstrate an understanding of the fundamental principles that underpin species distribution and abundance; (2) demonstrate an understanding of timescales and their importance to processes of evolution, environmental change and community dynamics in Australia; (3) explain key processes that sustain ecosystem functions such as cycling of matter and energy, regeneration; (4) apply ecological principles as a basis for assessment of future land management and conservation priorities and options; and (5) develop generic skills in scientific writing, scientific oral presentation, the scientific method and dataset processing.


Indicative assessments in this unit are as follows: (1) theory tests and examination; (2) lab project; and (3) field project. Further information is available in the unit outline.

Student may be offered supplementary assessment in this unit if they meet the eligibility criteria.

Unit Coordinator(s)
Associate Professor Erik Veneklaas and Professor Raphael Didham
Unit rules
Successful completion of
BIOL1130 Frontiers in Biology
or BIOL1131 Plant and Animal Biology
or ENVT1104 Environmental Science and Technology
SCIE1104 Science, Society and Data Analysis
or STAT1400 Statistics for Science
or STAX1400 Statistics for Science
Contact hours
lectures: 2 hours per week
Practicals: 11 x 3 hours, including experimental labs, discussions, presentations, field work.
Attendance and satisfactory participation in all practical sessions and the field trip are compulsory.

Molles, Manuel C., and Sher, Anna. Ecology : Concepts and Applications . Eighth edition. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Education, 2019. Print.

  • The availability of units in Semester 1, 2, etc. was correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change.
  • All students are responsible for identifying when they need assistance to improve their academic learning, research, English language and numeracy skills; seeking out the services and resources available to help them; and applying what they learn. Students are encouraged to register for free online support through GETSmart; to help themselves to the extensive range of resources on UWA's STUDYSmarter website; and to participate in WRITESmart and (ma+hs)Smart drop-ins and workshops.
  • Unit readings, including any essential textbooks, are listed in the unit outline for each unit, one week prior the commencement of study. The unit outline will be available via the LMS and the UWA Handbook one week prior the commencement of study. Reading lists and essential textbooks are subject to change each semester. Information on essential textbooks will also be made available on the Essential Textbooks. This website is updated regularly in the lead up to semester so content may change. It is recommended that students purchase essential textbooks for convenience due to the frequency with which they will be required during the unit. A limited number of textbooks will be made available from the Library in print and will also be made available online wherever possible. Essential textbooks can be purchased from the commercial vendors to secure the best deal. The Student Guild can provide assistance on where to purchase books if required. Books can be purchased second hand at the Guild Secondhand bookshop (second floor, Guild Village), which is located on campus.
  • Contact hours provide an indication of the type and extent of in-class activities this unit may contain. The total amount of student work (including contact hours, assessment time, and self-study) will approximate 150 hours per 6 credit points.