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Unit of study_

BIOL3916: Coral Reef Biology (Advanced)

Intensive July, 2021 [Block mode] - Camperdown/Darlington, Sydney

This unit has the same objectives as BIOL3016, Coral Reef Biology, and is suitable for students who wish to pursue certain aspects of tropical marine biology in greater depth, with a focus on the GBR. Entry is restricted, and selection is made from the applicants on the basis of their previous performance. Students taking this unit of study will pursue individual projects in consultation with, and under the guidance of, the course coordinator. The aim is to design a project relating to the particular interests of the student. The nature of these projects will vary from year to year. This unit of study may be taken as part of the BSc (Advanced) program.

Unit details and rules

Unit code BIOL3916
Academic unit Life and Environmental Sciences Academic Operations
Credit points 6
BIOL3016 or BIOL2020 or BIOL2920
An average mark of 75 or above in [12cp of BIOL2XXX] OR [6cp of BIOL2XXX and (MBLG2X72 or GEGE2X01 or GENE2002)]
Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff

Coordinator William Figueira,
Lecturer(s) Maria Byrne,
Pauline Ross,
Ziggy Marzinelli,
William Figueira,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Assignment Essay
Written essay
15% Week 04
Due date: 16 Jul 2021 at 23:59
1500 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5
Presentation Biota Portfolio Presentation
Presentation of biota portfolio
5% Week 05
Due date: 25 Jul 2021 at 12:00
5 min
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2
Assignment Biota portfolio
Summary of species of interest, done while at field station.
10% Week 05
Due date: 25 Jul 2021 at 12:00
2 pages
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2
Final exam (Record+) Type B final exam Final exam
Multiple choice, short answer and extended response
30% Week 07
Due date: 05 Aug 2021 at 14:00
2 hours
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6
Assignment Research report
Written report
40% Week 08
Due date: 12 Aug 2021 at 23:59
2000 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO6 LO7 LO8 LO9
Type B final exam = Type B final exam ?

Assessment summary

  • Overview of assessments

    Below are brief assessment details. Further information can be found in the Canvas site for this unit.

    Essay (15%): Students will be required to prepare 1 essay of no more than 2000 words.  The essay topic and suggested reading will be provided. These are designed to be challenging and will require a synthesis of information from recent publications. This will be due prior to departure.

    Biota Portfolios (15%): Students will choose two species, one intertidal and one subtidal and complete a portfolio providing information on the taxonomy, biology and ecology of this species.  The student will present one of their portfolios to the group in a brief presentation in scheduled class time during the field-intensive part of the unit.  Resource material for this work will be available at the field station library.

    Research Report (40%): Students, working in groups, will conduct a small research project of their own design during the field-intensive part of the unit.  With the help of staff, groups will develop an idea and design and conduct data collection.  While peers are encouraged to work together on data analysis and interpretation of results, the project will be written up as INDIVIDUAL WORK in the format of a scientific report.

    Final Exam (30%): The final exam may consist of multiple choice, short or essay answer questions.

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

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 Pre departure lecture sessions Lecture and tutorial (8 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5
Post field trip lectures and data analysis sessions. Lecture and tutorial (4 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO9
Week 05 Field trip to Great Barrier Reef. Field trip (70 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8 LO9

Attendance and class requirements

  • Attendance: Students are required to attend all components for the full period of each class. Where an absence from a class was due to medical or other special reasons, a special consideration application hast to be lodged with the Faculty of Science.
  • Swimming and snorkelling: There will be in water activity and you will have to demonstrate that you can swim as well as get checked off as a Univeristy of Sydney snorkler.  More information on this process can be found on the Canvas site.
  • Equipment: Full body protection in the water is mandatory. Students will also need snorkel gear (mask, snorkel, fins) and a full wet suit or stinger suit. Students are also required to bring sun screen, hat, drink bottle, towel, firm foot wear and booties and a computer (the internet is available). Students should pack gear in bags that are easily carried and weigh less than 20kg as they will be transferring gear to and from the beach. Futher information on what to bring for the field excursion can be found on the Canvas site for the unit.

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. appreciate biodiversity of coral reefs and identification (fishes, corals, non-coral invertebrates)
  • LO2. appreciate the diversity of life histories, habitats and biology among coral reef inhabitants
  • LO3. understand linkages between coral reef habitats, the pelagic environment and land-based activities
  • LO4. understand the processes involved in management issues specific tropical ecosystems
  • LO5. appreciate the influence of climate change and other anthropogenic stressors on coral reef ecosystems
  • LO6. learn a variety of practical techniques for studying coral reef ecosystems
  • LO7. develop research skills with field and laboratory equipment
  • LO8. learn techniques for designing field studies, gathering field data and analytical considerations
  • LO9. develop scientific writing and analytical skills by producing a research report based on data obtained and analysed to test scientific hypotheses.

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.

No changes were made.

Additional costs

An additional cost of ~$1000 is required to cover transport to and from the field station to Gladstone, QLD as well as all accommodation and food costs. Students are required to get themselves to and from Gladstone, QLD. More specific information is available on Canvas.

Site visit guidelines

A risk assessment for the field trip will be made available to students. Acknowledgement of the conditions of this document is required for participation in the field trip.

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:


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