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.

Click on an offering mode for more details.

Unit Overview


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 make 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 the 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 the environment.

6 points
(see Timetable)
Semester 2UWA (Perth)Face to face
Semester 2AlbanyFace to face
Details for undergraduate courses
  • Level 2 core unit in the Botany; Agricultural Science; Agricultural Science and Technology; Molecular Life Sciences; Environmental Science and Ecology; Plant Biology major sequences
  • Level 2 elective

Students are able to (1) describe the structure of plants and how each part functions and contributes to the whole; (2) develop 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; (3) demonstrate skills in quantitative analyses, critical thinking to evaluate data sets and to communicate findings.; and (4) demonstrate an understanding of 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.

To pass this unit, a student must: (a) achieve an overall mark of 50 per cent or higher for the unit; and (b) achieve the requisite requirements(s) or a mark of 50 per cent or greater, whichever is higher and specified in the unit outline, for the end-of-semester two-hour examination (55 per cent) component.

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

Unit Coordinator(s)
Dr Kosala Ranathunge and Dr Judith Lichtenzveig
Unit rules
Successful completion of
any one Unit(s)
or BIOL1130 Frontiers in Biology
or BIOL1131 Plant and Animal Biology
or SCIE1106 Molecular Biology of the Cell
or SCIX1106 Molecular Biology of the Cell )
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.
  • 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.