Skip to main content
Unit of study_

BIOL3908: Marine Field Ecology (Advanced)

Intensive August, 2020 [Block mode] - Camperdown/Darlington, Sydney

This unit has the same objectives as Marine Field Ecology BIOL3008, and is suitable for students wishing to pursue certain aspects of marine field ecology in a greater depth. Entry is restricted and selection is made from applicants on the basis of past performance. Students taking this unit of study will be expected to take part in a number of additional tutorials after the field course on advanced aspects of experimental design and analysis and will be expected to incorporate these advanced skills into their analyses and project reports. This unit may be taken as part of the BSc(Advanced).

Unit details and rules

Unit code BIOL3908
Academic unit Life and Environmental Sciences Academic Operations
Credit points 6
BIOL3008 or BIOL2028 or BIOL2928
Distinction average in either- 12cp Intermediate BIOL or (6cp Intermediate BIOL and (MBLG2072 or MBLG2972))
Assumed knowledge


Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff

Coordinator Ziggy Marzinelli,
Demonstrator(s) Lex McGrath,
Sian Liddy,
Lecturer(s) William Figueira,
Ziggy Marzinelli,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Participation Research participation
Participation in fieldwork, online practicals and discussions.
10% Ongoing Throughout the course.
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO6 LO5 LO4 LO3 LO2
Assignment group assignment Project proposal
Written assignment
10% Week -02 2 pages
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO6
Assignment group assignment Data Analysis and Checking
Written assignment; data spreadsheet and analysis
10% Week 02 2 pages
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO5 LO3 LO2
Assignment Assessment of Biodiversity
Written assignment
20% Week 03 4 pages
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO6 LO5 LO4 LO3 LO2
Assignment Research Project Report
Written assignment
50% Week 05 10 pages (double spaced)
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO6 LO5 LO4 LO3 LO2
group assignment = group assignment ?

Assessment summary

Research participation: These marks are awarded for active involvement in discussions and fieldwork.

Assessment of biodiversity: This assignment is to help you determine the diversity of the locality/system under investigation. Usually, this will involve some type of quantitative sampling as we can rarely, if ever, just count all the organisms we are interested in.

Project proposal: By the start of day 3 of the fieldwork, you need to submit a project proposal. You must include statements of observation, model and hypothesis. You must indicate what statistical tests you will use to support or refute your hypothesis. You should detail the experiments(s) you will carry out, and include clear diagrams if these will aid understanding. You need to have a written feasible work plan and an equipment list.

Data analysis and checking: This summary should include the design of the spreadsheet you will use to store and manipulate the data, any checking mechanisms you have used to ensure the veracity of entered data, the type of statistical analysis you will use and the type of graphs you may use.

Research project report: After working on your projects, you will go to the literature to research whether other similar studies have been done on your organism, here or elsewhere. Discussion of how your work relates to other studies should be an important part of your project report.

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.

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
Pre-semester Field practicals Field trip (42 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6
Lectures on marine field ecology Lecture (10 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6
Experimental design; subtidal field sampling; data analysis Practical (12 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO5 LO6
Field project discussion and development Project (10 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO6

Attendance and class requirements

Attendance: Unless otherwise indicated, students are expected to attend a minimum of 80% of timetabled activities for a unit of study, unless granted exemption by the associate dean. For some units of study the minimum attendance requirement, as specified in the relevant table of units or the unit of study outline, may be greater than 80%. The associate dean may determine that a student has failed a unit of study because of inadequate attendance.

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.

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. describe and discuss the concepts associated with experimental analysis of marine populations and assemblages
  • LO2. develop a detailed understanding of the logical requirements necessary for manipulative ecological field experiments
  • LO3. gain experience using a range of ecological sampling techniques
  • LO4. critically read, evaluate and synthesise information from the primary literature
  • LO5. conduct analysis of data
  • LO6. communicate your findings concisely and scientifically in both written and graphical forms.

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.

Due to changes in response to COVID-19, this year the Unit will run over three weeks (instead of 8 consecutive, intense days). Field trips are spread, with multiple opportunities to discuss the project with teaching staff and refine the project in between, as per feedback from 2019.

This year we are running the course in Sydney (instead of Warrah) so that students can still get the same amount of field experience and meet the learning outcomes, while abiding to the COVID-19 safety regulations. Field sampling and experiments are combined with on-line lectures, virtual practicals and group discussions. 

This field course provides a practical introduction to the experimental analysis of marine populations and assemblages. Students gain experience using a range of intertidal (field pracs) and underwater (virtual pracs) sampling techniques and develop a detailed understanding of the logical requirements necessary for manipulative ecological field experiments. No particular mathematical or statistical skills are required for this subject. Group experimental research projects in the field are the focus of the unit, with lectures, virtual practicals and discussion groups about the analysis of experimental data and current issues in experimental marine ecology occurring throughout the course.

More information can be found on Canvas.

Additional costs

There are no additional costs for this unit.

Site visit guidelines

Please refer to the pre-trip briefing and risk assessment form.

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.