Studying online

There are now 3 possible online modes for units:

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

Units available in Online Restricted mode have been adapted for online study only for those students who require the unit to complete their studies and who are unable to attend campus due to COVID border closures. To be enrolled in a unit in Online Restricted mode, students should contact their Student Advising Office through askUWA and include which of the below criteria applies:

  • You are a student who is currently offshore and unable to enter Australia.
  • You are a student in Australia who is impacted by state or regional border closures.

Click on an offering mode for more details.

PLNT2201 Plants in Action

6 points
(see Timetable)
Semester 2UWA (Perth)Face to face
Semester 2OnlineOnline Restricted
Details for undergraduate courses
  • Level 2 core unit in the Botany; Agricultural Science; Agricultural Science and Technology; Molecular Life Sciences major sequences
  • Level 2 elective
Plants have literally shaped the Earth and its environment, priming the great oxygenation event several billion years ago which enabled the evolution of all aerobic life. We are sustained by the bountiful plant life around us, but it is their capacity to adapt and acclimate to wide conditions that makes studying plants so interesting. This plasticity driven by the plant genome underpins native ecosystems, enables restoration of toxic or nutrient-poor land, as well as use of plants in managed systems including agriculture. Plants also have a wide range of relationships with other organisms, from food or host to symbiont or parasite. Grain/seed production sustains the energy requirements of the growing human population, as well as being one of the major international commodities traded around the world. Plant metabolic pathways facilitate acclimation to a changing environment and produce compounds (e.g. vitamins) essential for human and animal health. This unit takes students through the parts (organs, tissues and cells) that make up plants, and considers the relationships and influences of plants on the environment and other organisms. Students will gain practical skills in evaluating plant function in the context of many disciplines. Topics include the structure–physiology relationships at the cell, tissue, organ, plant and community levels; plant growth and development; transfer processes in the soil–plant–atmosphere continuum; energy capture and metabolism; water relations; nutrient acquisition; and acclimations to environment.
Students are able to (1) know the structure of plants and how each part functions and contributes to the whole; (2) have skills in plant anatomy and measure aspects of plant physiology including net photosynthesis, chlorophyll content, water relations, water transport, ion transport, radiation interception, and plant growth and development; and (3) have skills in quantitative analyses, critical thinking to evaluate data sets and communicate findings, and several foundation theories in plant physiology.
Indicative assessments in this unit are as follows: (1) continuous assessment corresponding to the practical sessions (45 per cent) and (2) end-of-semester two-hour examination (55 per cent). Further information is available in the unit outline.

Supplementary assessment is not available in this unit except in the case of a bachelor's pass degree student who has obtained a mark of 45 to 49 overall and is currently enrolled in this unit, and it is the only remaining unit that the student must pass in order to complete their course.
Unit Coordinator(s)
Associate Professor Patrick Finnegan, Dr Kosala Ranathunge
Unit rules
6 Points Unit BIOL1130 Frontiers in Biology (ID 1254) Or BIOL1131 Plant and Animal Biology (ID 1244) Or SCIE1106 Molecular Biology of the Cell (ID 1019)
Contact hours
lectures: 2 hours per week; practical work: 6 x 3-hour sessions. Lectures are delivered as a combination of online-only, live (and recorded) and live facilitation.

Atwell, B. J. et al. Plants in Action: Adaptation in Nature, Performance in Cultivation: MacMillan Education 1999

Lambers, H. et al. Plant Physiological Ecology: Springer Verlag 2008

Taiz, L. and Zeiger, E. Plant Physiology: Sinauer Associates Inc. 2002


  • 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.