Skip to main content
Unit of study_

BIOL2030: Botany

Semester 1, 2021 [Normal day] - Remote

We are surrounded by plants, and rely on them every day for our wellbeing. Ecologists use botanical knowledge to help manage marine and terrestrial ecosystems, and public health and land management professionals depend on their understanding of plant science to help solve environmental problems and to enhance biosecurity. Botany aims to increase and improve our supply of medicines, foods, and other plant products, and is critical for anyone interested in contributing to the sustainable future of our planet. In this unit, you will explore the origins, diversity, and global significance of plants. You will gain insights into the micro- and macro-evolutionary processes and patterns behind how plants moved from aquatic ecosystems to terrestrial ecosystems. Integrated lectures, practical classes, and extensive online resources will allow you to develop and integrate practical skills and conceptual frame works in plant identification, plant physiology, plant anatomy, and plant morphology. Successful completion of Botany will allow you to contribute to a range of disciplines including: ecology, bioinformatics, molecular and cell biology, genetics and biotechnology, environmental law, agriculture, education and the arts.

Unit details and rules

Unit code BIOL2030
Academic unit Life and Environmental Sciences Academic Operations
Credit points 6
BIOL2023 or BIOL2923 or PLNT2001 or PLNT2901 or PLNT2002 or PLNT2902 or PLNT2003 or PLNT2903 or BIOL2930
Assumed knowledge

Knowledge of concepts and skills in BIOL1XX6.

Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff

Coordinator Rosanne Quinnell,
Lecturer(s) Rosanne Quinnell,
Brian Jones,
Murray Henwood,
Charles Warren,
Tutor(s) Daniel Howell,
Peri Tobias,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Final exam (Take-home short release) Type D final exam Practical exam
Online take-home short release. Similarity-detection software to be used.
30% Formal exam period 2 hours
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO3 LO2
Final exam (Take-home short release) Type D final exam Theory exam
Online take-home (short release). Similarity-detection software to be used.
35% Formal exam period 2 hours
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3
Small test Quizzes (best 5 marks used)
Completed in online in LMS.
15% Multiple weeks Each quiz has 10 questions and is 20 min
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO3 LO2
Assignment Anatomy of a native seedling project
Assessment is conducted in class (CC), or online (RE).
20% Week 13 6 h prac class time W12 & 13
Outcomes assessed: LO5 LO4
Type D final exam = Type D final exam ?
Type D final exam = Type D final exam ?

Assessment summary

  • Quizzes: During the semester we will offer you as series of quizzes that we require you to complete within 1 week. The feedback from these quizzes will be useful in directing your learning to improve the understanding of key concepts.
  • Anatomy project: You will be assessed on your ability to identify plant tissues and the botanical inferences you draw from your observations.
    • CC students will capture images from sections of plant material that they have cut themselves and label these images.
    • RE students will do their assignment wholely online using photomicrographs prepared for them. 

Detailed information for each assessment can be found on Canvas.

Assessment criteria

The University awards common result grades, set out in the Coursework Policy 2014 (Schedule 1).

As a general guide, a high distinction indicates work of an exceptional standard, a distinction a very high standard, a credit a good standard, and a pass an acceptable standard.

Result name

Mark range


High distinction

85 - 100

 At HD level, a student demonstrates a flair for the subject as well as a detailed and comprehensive understanding of the unit material. A ‘High Distinction’ reflects exceptional achievement and is awarded to a student who demonstrates the ability to apply their subject knowledge and understanding to produce original solutions for novel or highly complex problems and/or comprehensive critical discussions of theoretical concepts.


75 - 84

 At DI level, a student demonstrates an aptitude for the subject and a well-developed understanding of the unit material. A ‘Distinction’ reflects excellent achievement and is awarded to a student who demonstrates an ability to apply their subject knowledge and understanding of the subject to produce good solutions for challenging problems and/or a reasonably well-developed critical analysis of theoretical concepts.


65 - 74

 At CR level, a student demonstrates a good command and knowledge of the unit material. A ‘Credit’ reflects solid achievement and is awarded to a student who has a broad general understanding of the unit material and can solve routine problems and/or identify and superficially discuss theoretical concepts.


50 - 64

 At PA level, a student demonstrates proficiency in the unit material. A ‘Pass’ reflects satisfactory achievement and is awarded to a student who has threshold knowledge.


0 - 49

 FA grade is awarded to a student who has not been able to demonstrate that they have meet the learning outcomes of the unit to a satisfactory standard.

For more information see

For more information see guide to grades.

Late submission

In accordance with University policy, these penalties apply when written work is submitted after 11:59pm on the due date:

  • Deduction of 5% of the maximum mark for each calendar day after the due date.
  • After ten calendar days late, a mark of zero will be awarded.

Academic integrity

The Current Student website  provides information on academic integrity and the resources available to all students. The University expects students and staff to act ethically and honestly and will treat all allegations of academic integrity breaches seriously.  

We use similarity detection software to detect potential instances of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breach. If such matches indicate evidence of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breaches, your teacher is required to report your work for further investigation.

You may only use artificial intelligence and writing assistance tools in assessment tasks if you are permitted to by your unit coordinator, and if you do use them, you must also acknowledge this in your work, either in a footnote or an acknowledgement section.

Studiosity is permitted for postgraduate units unless otherwise indicated by the unit coordinator. The use of this service must be acknowledged in your submission.

Simple extensions

If you encounter a problem submitting your work on time, you may be able to apply for an extension of five calendar days through a simple extension.  The application process will be different depending on the type of assessment and extensions cannot be granted for some assessment types like exams.

Special consideration

If exceptional circumstances mean you can’t complete an assessment, you need consideration for a longer period of time, or if you have essential commitments which impact your performance in an assessment, you may be eligible for special consideration or special arrangements.

Special consideration applications will not be affected by a simple extension application.

Using AI responsibly

Co-created with students, AI in Education includes lots of helpful examples of how students use generative AI tools to support their learning. It explains how generative AI works, the different tools available and how to use them responsibly and productively.

WK Topic Learning activity Learning outcomes
Week 01 1. Intro to Botany: the consequences of sex; 2. Diversity of algae Lecture (2 hr)  
Algae diversity Practical (3 hr)  
Week 02 1. Diversity in algae; 2. Key evolutionary events in land plants Lecture (2 hr)  
Bryophyte and lycophyte diversity Practical (3 hr)  
Week 03 1. First moves onto land: bryophytes; 2. Evolution of vasculature and heterospory: ferns Lecture (2 hr)  
Monilophyte and gymnosperm diversity Practical (3 hr)  
Week 04 1. Evolution of the seed: gymnosperms; 2. Evolution of flowers Lecture (2 hr)  
Flowering plant (angiosperm) diversity Practical (3 hr)  
Week 05 1. How have nucleotide sequences changed our view of flowering plant relationships?; 2. The earliest radiations of angiosperms Lecture (2 hr)  
Eucalypt systematics and phylogenetics Practical (3 hr)  
Week 06 1. The rise and diversification of monocots; 2. Eudicots diversity and phylogeny Lecture (2 hr)  
Flowering plants of the Sydney region 1 Practical (3 hr)  
Week 07 1. Radiations within eudicots; 2. Evolution of the Australian flora Lecture (2 hr)  
Flowering plants of the Sydney region 2 Practical (3 hr)  
Week 08 1. Endosymbiosis; 2. Energetics: Resp/photo Lecture (2 hr)  
Angiosperm plant body: the tissue systems Practical (3 hr)  
Week 09 1. Photosynthesis, CAM, C4; 2. Building plant tissues Lecture (2 hr)  
Shoot structure - primary stems & light harvesting structures Practical (3 hr)  
Week 10 1. Short distance transport -membrane transport, transfer cells, plasmodesmata; 2. Translocation Lecture (2 hr)  
Primary roots Practical (3 hr)  
Week 11 1. Water transport: xylem; 2. Water relations, SPAC Lecture (2 hr)  
Secondary growth in stems and roots Practical (3 hr)  
Week 12 1. Plant nutrition; 2. Soil and plant-soil interactions Lecture (2 hr)  
Anatomy project (BIOL2030 only) COMPULSORY Practical (3 hr)  
Week 13 1. tba; 2. tba Lecture (2 hr)  
Anatomy project presentation and assessment (BIOL2030 only) COMPULSORY Lecture (3 hr)  

Attendance and class requirements

Due to the exceptional circumstances caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, attendance requirements for this unit of study have been amended. Where online tutorials/workshops/virtual laboratories have been scheduled, students should make every effort to attend and participate at the scheduled time. Penalties will not be applied if technical issues, etc. prevent attendance at a specific online class. In that case, students should checkin with the coordinator and ensure they use the available online resources (offered in LMS).

Study commitment

Typically, there is a minimum expectation of 1.5-2 hours of student effort per week per credit point for units of study offered over a full semester. For a 6 credit point unit, this equates to roughly 120-150 hours of student effort in total.

Required readings

All readings for this unit can be accessed through the Library eReserve, available on Canvas.

  • Evert RF and Eichhorn SE. 2013. Raven: Biology of Plants. 8th Ed. Freeman & Co Publishers. New York. NY.

Learning outcomes are what students know, understand and are able to do on completion of a unit of study. They are aligned with the University's graduate qualities and are assessed as part of the curriculum.

At the completion of this unit, you should be able to:

  • LO1. explain the evolution of land plants and how plants are able to respond to their environment
  • LO2. identify the major plant families of the Sydney region and the tissue systems of plants
  • LO3. use cladistics to solve simple phylogenies and draw from these inferences about relatedness of taxa
  • LO4. demonstrate a thorough understanding of plant anatomy by describing features of the primary plant body and the secondary plant body of Angiosperms
  • LO5. adopt a mindful disposition and a scholarly approach towards your studies in Botany.

Graduate qualities

The graduate qualities are the qualities and skills that all University of Sydney graduates must demonstrate on successful completion of an award course. As a future Sydney graduate, the set of qualities have been designed to equip you for the contemporary world.

GQ1 Depth of disciplinary expertise

Deep disciplinary expertise is the ability to integrate and rigorously apply knowledge, understanding and skills of a recognised discipline defined by scholarly activity, as well as familiarity with evolving practice of the discipline.

GQ2 Critical thinking and problem solving

Critical thinking and problem solving are the questioning of ideas, evidence and assumptions in order to propose and evaluate hypotheses or alternative arguments before formulating a conclusion or a solution to an identified problem.

GQ3 Oral and written communication

Effective communication, in both oral and written form, is the clear exchange of meaning in a manner that is appropriate to audience and context.

GQ4 Information and digital literacy

Information and digital literacy is the ability to locate, interpret, evaluate, manage, adapt, integrate, create and convey information using appropriate resources, tools and strategies.

GQ5 Inventiveness

Generating novel ideas and solutions.

GQ6 Cultural competence

Cultural Competence is the ability to actively, ethically, respectfully, and successfully engage across and between cultures. In the Australian context, this includes and celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, knowledge systems, and a mature understanding of contemporary issues.

GQ7 Interdisciplinary effectiveness

Interdisciplinary effectiveness is the integration and synthesis of multiple viewpoints and practices, working effectively across disciplinary boundaries.

GQ8 Integrated professional, ethical, and personal identity

An integrated professional, ethical and personal identity is understanding the interaction between one’s personal and professional selves in an ethical context.

GQ9 Influence

Engaging others in a process, idea or vision.

Outcome map

Learning outcomes Graduate qualities

This section outlines changes made to this unit following staff and student reviews.

This unit of study has tracked very well with respect to the end of semester unit of study evaluations; i.e. ~4/5 for overall satisfaction.The teaching staff will be asking for your feedback as the unit is in progress and this allows us to address issues when they arise. Please note that we make modifications to the unit each year in response to the feedback you offer to us either as the unit is in train or when we analyse the US evaluation data.

Additional costs

Please note that you are required to purchase your own laboratory coat and purchase a copy of the laboratory manual (e-copy in LMS).

Work, health and safety

We are governed by the Work Health and Safety Act 2011, Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011 and Codes of Practice. Penalties for non-compliance have increased. Everyone has a responsibility for health and safety at work. The University’s Work Health and Safety policy explains the responsibilities and expectations of workers and others, and the procedures for managing WHS risks associated with University activities.

General Laboratory Safety Rules

  • No eating or drinking is allowed in any laboratory under any circumstances
  • A laboratory coat and closed-toe shoes are mandatory
  • Follow safety instructions in your manual and posted in laboratories
  • In case of fire, follow instructions posted outside the laboratory door
  • First aid kits, eye wash and fire extinguishers are located in or immediately outside each laboratory
  • As a precautionary measure, it is recommended that you have a current tetanus immunisation. This can be obtained from University Health Service:


The University reserves the right to amend units of study or no longer offer certain units, including where there are low enrolment numbers.

To help you understand common terms that we use at the University, we offer an online glossary.