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Unit of study_

BIOL3009: Terrestrial Field Ecology

This intensive field-based course provides practical experience in terrestrial ecology suited to a broad range of careers in ecology, environmental consulting and wildlife management. Students learn a broad range of ecological sampling techniques and develop a detailed understanding of the logical requirements necessary for manipulative ecological field experiments. The field work takes place in native forest and incorporates survey techniques for plants, small mammals and invertebrates and thus provides a good background for ecological consulting work and an introduction into large-scale project management. Students attend a week-long field course and participate in a large-scale research project as well as conducting their own research project. Emphasis is placed on critical thinking in the context of environmental management and technical skills are developed in the area of data handling and analysis, report writing and team work. Invited experts contribute to the lectures and discussions on issues relating to the ecology, conservation and management of Australia's terrestrial flora and fauna.


Academic unit Life and Environmental Sciences Academic Operations
Unit code BIOL3009
Unit name Terrestrial Field Ecology
Session, year
Intensive August, 2022
Attendance mode Block mode
Location Camperdown/Darlington, Sydney
Credit points 6

Enrolment rules

BIOL3909 or BIOL2009 or BIOL2909
[12cp of BIOL2XXX] OR [6cp of BIOL2XXX and (MBLG2X72 or GEGE2X01 or GENE2002)]
Assumed knowledge

Basic ecological concepts of species and communities, and experimental design and analysis

Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff and contact details

Coordinator Glenda Wardle,
Demonstrator(s) Amelia Saul ,
Casey Taylor,
Lecturer(s) Christopher Dickman ,
Aaron Greenville,
Clare McArthur,
Rosanne Quinnell,
Peter Banks,
Glenda Wardle,
Thomas Malcom Newsome,
Administrative staff Heather Sowden,, Technical Staff support for field trip.
Type Description Weight Due Length
Small test Quiz
10% Week 02
Due date: 29 Jul 2022 at 13:00

Closing date: 29 Jul 2022
30 minutes
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2
Presentation Sampling project presentation
10% Week 02
Due date: 29 Jul 2022 at 12:00

Closing date: 29 Jul 2022
5 minutes plus questions
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO4 LO3 LO2
Skills-based evaluation Practical skills and data
Practical skills assessment
10% Week 02
Due date: 29 Jul 2022 at 13:00

Closing date: 26 Aug 2022
During field trip
Outcomes assessed: LO2 LO5
Assignment Sampling project report
20% Week 05
Due date: 19 Aug 2022 at 21:00

Closing date: 09 Sep 2022
3 pages plus figures, refs, abstract
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO4
Assignment Major Dungog research report
50% Week 09
Due date: 16 Sep 2022 at 21:00

Closing date: 21 Oct 2022
7500 words maximum
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5

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



75 - 84



65 - 74



50 - 64



0 - 49

When you don’t 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.

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
Pre-semester Introductory lectures Lecture (2 hr) LO1
Week 02 Field trip: Wangat Lodge near Chichester Dam, past town Dungog, NSW Field trip (60 hr) LO1 LO2 LO4 LO5
Week 03 Practical Practical (4 hr) LO3 LO5
Week 04 Practical Practical (4 hr) LO3 LO5
Week 05 Practical Practical (4 hr) LO3 LO5
Week 06 Practical Practical (4 hr) LO1 LO3 LO5

Attendance and class requirements

Students are required to attend the field trip and the practical classes unless a prior arrangement has been made for clashes with other units of study.

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

No required text book.

A printed practical manual will be made available at the start of the Block teaching mode. This will contain all required reading. Additional reading lists will be made available to assist with report writing.

Students are required to attend the field trip and the practical classes unless a prior arrangement has been made for clashes with other units of study.

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. understand the scientific methods needed for field ecology
  • LO2. conduct ecological surveys of flora and fauna in forests
  • LO3. analyse and interpret ecological data sets
  • LO4. communicate scientific findings in reports and in oral presentations
  • LO5. work effectively in teams and contribute to complex tasks relevant to real world employment.

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
Feedback from previous students has been highly positive for the unit. An extra lecture on sampling designs has been offered to assist students who lacked some of the assumed knowledge. We will also streamline practical classes to provide more time to undertake the statistical analyses of data for students who have not taken the recommended classes to gain assumed knowledge in this area. Staff work individually with students to explain the statistical methods, where needed and recommend additional reading to deepen understanding of data management and analysis for ecological studies.

Additional costs

A fee $600 fee to cover accommodation, meals and travel for the field trip.

Site visit guidelines

• Detailed information about the risk assessments for the field trip will be available on Canvas site. • Q-fever: Completion of online zoonosis awareness module is mandatory, and all students also are recommended to have had Q-fever vaccination prior to attending this UoS.

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:

Field work risk assessments are made available prior to the field trip.


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