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Unit of study_

BIOL2030: Botany

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.


Academic unit Life and Environmental Sciences Academic Operations
Unit code BIOL2030
Unit name Botany
Session, year
Semester 1, 2022
Attendance mode Normal day
Location Remote
Credit points 6

Enrolment rules

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 and contact details

Coordinator Rosanne Quinnell,
Lecturer(s) Matthew George Pye ,
Marcus Heisler,
Mary Byrne,
Brian Joseph Jones,
Rosanne Quinnell,
Charles Robert Warren,
Mark de Bruyn,
Tutor(s) Patt Finnerty ,
Daniel Howell,
Administrative staff SOLES Education Heather Sowden
Type Description Weight Due Length
Final exam (Take-home short release) Type D final exam Theory exam
Written examination. For RE students exam online.
35% Formal exam period 2 hours
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO3 LO2
Small test Quizzes (best 5 marks used)
Complete in online in LMS. There are 7 quizzes, check due dates on CANVAS.
15% Multiple weeks 20 min/quiz
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO3 LO2
Online task Anatomy of a native seedling
Assessment is conducted in class (CC), or online (RE).
20% Week 12 3 h
Outcomes assessed: LO4 LO5
In-semester test (Record+) Type B in-semester exam Prac test
Two hour prac test (CC: in person, in Carslaw 408, RE: online).
30% Week 13
Due date: 24 May 2022 at 14:00

Closing date: 26 May 2022
2 hours
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5
Type B in-semester exam = Type B in-semester exam ?
Type D final exam = Type D final exam ?
  • 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 assignment: You will be assessed on your ability to identify plant tissues and the botanical inferences you draw from your observations of material provided. This is an in-class assessment.
  • Prac test: Offered in your scheduled lab class time in Week 13.  CC: in teaching lab (Carslaw 408); RE: online test. 

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

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.

This unit has an exception to the standard University policy or supplementary information has been provided by the unit coordinator. This information is displayed below:

5%/day for quizzes and anatomy assignment.

Special consideration

If you experience short-term circumstances beyond your control, such as illness, injury or misadventure or if you have essential commitments which impact your preparation or performance in an assessment, you may be eligible for special consideration or special arrangements.

Academic integrity

The Current Student website provides information on academic honesty, academic dishonesty, 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 dishonesty or plagiarism seriously.

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

WK Topic Learning activity Learning outcomes
Week 01 1. Introduction to Botany, Diversity in algae 2. Land plants: Key evolutionary events Lecture (2 hr)  
Algae diversity Practical (3 hr)  
Week 02 3. First moves onto land: bryophytes 4. Early vascular plants Lecture (2 hr)  
Bryophyte and lycophyte diversity Practical (3 hr)  
Week 03 5. Evolution of the seed: gymnosperms 6. The earliest radiations of angiosperms Lecture (2 hr)  
Monilophyte and gymnosperm diversity Practical (3 hr)  
Week 04 7. Mechanisms of pattern development in angiosperms 8. Evolution of flowers. Lecture (2 hr)  
Flowering plant (angiosperm) diversity Practical (3 hr)  
Week 05 9. Evolution of flower function 10. How have nucleotide sequences changed our view of relationships? Lecture (2 hr)  
Eucalypt systematics and phylogenetics Practical (3 hr)  
Week 06 11. The rise and diversification of monocots – how to spot a monocot 12. Eudicot diversity and phylogeny. Lecture (2 hr)  
Flowering plants of the Sydney region 1 Practical (3 hr)  
Week 07 13. Evolution of the Australian flora I 14. Evolution of the Australian flora II Lecture (2 hr)  
Flowering plants of the Sydney region 2 Practical (3 hr)  
Week 08 15. Endosymbiosis & energetics 16. Energetics: Respiration & photosynthesis Lecture (2 hr)  
Angiosperm plant body: the tissue systems Practical (3 hr)  
Week 09 17. Photosynthesis, CAM, C4; 18. Building plant tissues Lecture (2 hr)  
Shoot structure - primary stems & light harvesting structures Practical (3 hr)  
Week 10 19. Short distance transport -membrane transport, transfer cells, plasmodesmata; 20. Translocation Lecture (2 hr)  
Primary roots Practical (3 hr)  
Week 11 21. Water transport: xylem; 22. Water relations, SPAC Lecture (2 hr)  
Secondary growth in stems and roots Practical (3 hr)  
Week 12 23. Plant nutrition; 24. Soil and plant-soil interactions Lecture (2 hr)  
Anatomy assignment (BIOL2030 only) COMPULSORY Practical (3 hr)  
Week 13 25. Environmental stress responses I 26. Environmental stress responses II Lecture (2 hr)  
Practical test. Practical (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 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.