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Unit of study_

BIOL3907: Ecology (Advanced)

Semester 2, 2021 [Normal day] - Remote

This unit has the same objectives as BIOL3007 Ecology, and is suitable for students who wish to pursue certain aspects in greater depth. Entry is restricted, and selection is made from the applicants on the basis of their previous performance. Students taking this unit of study participate in alternatives to some elements of the standard course and will be encouraged to pursue the objectives by more independent means in a series of research tutorials. Specific details of this unit of study and assessment will be announced in meetings with students in week 1 of semester 2. This unit of study may be taken as part of the BSc (Advanced) program.

Unit details and rules

Unit code BIOL3907
Academic unit Life and Environmental Sciences Academic Operations
Credit points 6
An average mark of 75 or above in [12cp of BIOL2XXX] OR [6cp of BIOL2XXX and (MBLG2X72 or GEGE2X01 or GENE2002 or AVBS2XXX or ENSC2001)]
Assumed knowledge


Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff

Coordinator Glenda Wardle,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Final exam (Record+) Type B final exam Exam
Written examination
40% Formal exam period 2 hours
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO5
Assignment Practical project written report
Written assessment
25% STUVAC See Canvas
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Presentation group assignment Project outline talk
5% Week 04 10 minutes
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO5 LO4 LO2
Assignment Big ideas in ecology
Written assessment
20% Week 07 see Canvas
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO5
Presentation group assignment Project presentation poster
10% Week 12 10 minutes
Outcomes assessed: LO3 LO4
group assignment = group assignment ?
Type B final exam = Type B final exam ?

Assessment summary

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’ reflectssolid 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 PS 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

When you don’t 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
Multiple weeks Project work - self directed and in lab/field and demography labs Science laboratory (39 hr) LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 01 Population growth Lecture (1 hr) LO1 LO2
Life histories Lecture (1 hr) LO1 LO2
Success in science: what do you need to know? Tutorial (1 hr) LO4
Week 02 Population models Lecture (1 hr) LO1 LO2
Population models: case studies Lecture (1 hr) LO1 LO2 LO4 LO5
What makes a good talk? Tutorial (1 hr)  
Week 03 Population regulation Lecture (1 hr) LO1 LO2 LO4
Metapopulations and extinctions Lecture (1 hr) LO1 LO2 LO4 LO5
Ecology's big questions Tutorial (1 hr) LO1
Week 04 Ecological interactions – overview Lecture (1 hr) LO1
Competition and predation Lecture (1 hr) LO1
Week 05 Plant-herbivore interactions (herbivore perspective) Lecture (1 hr) LO1 LO2
Plant-herbivore interactions (plant perspective) Lecture (1 hr) LO1 LO2
What makes a good paper? The politics of publication Tutorial (1 hr) LO1 LO3
Week 06 Complex interactions Lecture (1 hr) LO1
Interactions with invasive species: what can we learn? Lecture (1 hr) LO1 LO2
The process of publication and peer review Tutorial (1 hr) LO3
Week 07 What are communities? A short history Lecture (1 hr) LO1
Community dynamics and succession Lecture (1 hr) LO1
Funding and the process of selling your research Tutorial (1 hr) LO4
Week 08 Disturbance and patch dynamics Lecture (1 hr) LO1
Assembly rules and gamma diversity Lecture (1 hr) LO1
Criticism: constructive and otherwise Tutorial (1 hr) LO3
Week 09 Writing better papers: papers offering self-help for scientists Tutorial (1 hr) LO3
Managing disturbance and communities Lecture (1 hr) LO1 LO5
Ecological units beyond communities Lecture (1 hr) LO1
Week 10 Success in science revisited and how you can play the science game Tutorial (1 hr) LO4
Fragmentation and the extinction debt Lecture (1 hr) LO1 LO5
Thresholds: what can we afford to lose? Lecture (1 hr) LO1 LO5
Week 11 Careers: destinations, career trajectories, and advice (cynical and modest advice!) Tutorial (1 hr) LO3
Hotspots and surrogates Lecture (1 hr) LO1 LO5
Restoration ecology: individuals and landscapes Lecture (1 hr) LO1 LO5
Week 12 What happens when science goes wrong? Tutorial (1 hr) LO4
Co-extinction: how evolutionary biology fits into conservation Lecture (1 hr) LO1 LO5
human dimensions of ecology Lecture (1 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO5
Week 13 Urban ecology Lecture (1 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO5
The future of ecology Lecture (1 hr) LO1

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.

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 key concepts and controversies in ecology
  • LO2. appreciate the experimental basis to developing ecological concepts
  • LO3. interpret and critically evaluate relevant research articles
  • LO4. have experience in ecological research
  • LO5. understand the role of applied ecology.

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.

The essay was replaced by the Big ideas in ecology assessment, after feedback.

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.