Course Outline

ANM204 Photography for Animal Ecologists

Course Coordinator:Gregory Watson ( School:School of Science, Technology and Engineering

2021Semester 2

USC Fraser Coast

Blended learning Most of your course is on campus but you may be able to do some components of this course online.

Please go to the USC website for up to date information on the
teaching sessions and campuses where this course is usually offered.

What is this course about?


Animal ecologists use photographs to convey information about animals such as their anatomy and physiology, habitat, behaviour and health for use in identification guides, scientific journals, environmental assessments, and other media. You will build on your knowledge of animal ecology and learn how to capture and present still images following ethical practices. You will learn about image composition, camera operation, post-production editing, and field- and laboratory- techniques. You will apply your skills during an intensive field course, and present your work as a photographic portfolio.

How will this course be delivered?

Activity Hours Beginning Week Frequency
Blended learning
Tutorial/Workshop 1 – The tutorials (Lectorials) will run from week 2 to week 8. Another tutorial will run in week 10. So 8 in total. 2hrs Week 2 8 times
Fieldwork – Fieldwork will take place in Week 8 starting on the Friday. The field trip takes place at 4 locations and runs on 4 days (Friday, Saturday, Sunday of week 8 and Monday of week 9). 32hrs Week 8 Once Only

Course Topics

1. Understanding how a digital camera operates and the basic elements of a digital camera.2.Photography, Macro photography, Micro photography, Thermal photography and Video imaging.3. Using a digital camera to capture images and Photoshop® editing software to enhance them. 4. Skills for photographing animals in the wild, including techniques for setting up and using animal hides, and for stalking timid animals in the wild. 5.Elements of digital images and how to use them to communicate information in animal ecology. 6. Constructing a portfolio which contains photos of animals illustrating their anatomical features, habitat, and behaviour.   

What level is this course?

200 Level (Developing)

Building on and expanding the scope of introductory knowledge and skills, developing breadth or depth and applying knowledge and skills in a new context. May require pre-requisites where discipline specific introductory knowledge or skills is necessary. Normally, undertaken in the second or third full-time year of an undergraduate programs.

What is the unit value of this course?

12 units

How does this course contribute to my learning?

Course Learning Outcomes On successful completion of this course, you should be able to... Graduate Qualities Completing these tasks successfully will contribute to you becoming...
1 Demonstrate and apply knowledge of how elements of a still image combine to convey specific information relevant to the study of animal ecology, and the basics of how a digital camera works. Knowledgeable
Creative and critical thinker
2 Critically analyse and solve problems in photography to illustrate animal identification, habitats, behaviour and physiology in a scientific manner. Knowledgeable
Creative and critical thinker
3 Construct and capture images to convey specific scientific information for research and communication in animal ecology. Empowered

Am I eligible to enrol in this course?

Refer to the USC Glossary of terms for definitions of “pre-requisites, co-requisites and anti-requisites”.


ANM100 and 2 of (ANM102 or ANM103 or ANM104 or SCI102) and enrolled in Program SB303 or SC320


Not applicable


Not applicable

Specific assumed prior knowledge and skills (where applicable)

Students should have a basic working knowledge of a DSLR camera, be able to download images from their camera, and to access them through Photoshop. This course will not cover basic computer knowledge and skills, but these will be essential to successfully complete the course.

How am I going to be assessed?

Grading Scale

Standard Grading (GRD)

High Distinction (HD), Distinction (DN), Credit (CR), Pass (PS), Fail (FL).

Details of early feedback on progress

The online quiz (Task 1) will early feedback to students.

Assessment tasks

Delivery mode Task No. Assessment Product Individual or Group Weighting % What is the duration / length? When should I submit? Where should I submit it?
All 1 Quiz/zes Individual 20%
30 multiple choice questions
Week 5 Online Submission
All 2 Oral Group 30%
10 min
Week 7 In Class
All 3 Portfolio Individual 50%
12-15 photos, 3000 words
Week 12 Online Submission
All - Assessment Task 1:Online Assessment
The goal of this task is for you to demonstrate and apply knowledge of the general working principles of a digital camera, including being able to predict the correct settings required to achieve a suitable image.
Product: Quiz/zes
Students will work independently to complete an online multiple-choice quiz by the due date.
No. Learning Outcome assessed
Demonstration and application of knowledge regarding the structure and working of a digital camera to acquire specified types of images, as used in animal ecology.
All - Assessment Task 2:Presentation
Demonstrate and apply knowledge regarding the structure and working of a digital camera and photographic elements to design images that convey specified scientific information for research and communication in animal ecology.
Product: Oral
A 10-minute presentation, plus 5 minutes for questions/discussion. You will be assessed individually (30%). You will present a detailed timeline of how you will spend the field trip. You will be marked based on your organisational ability and the practicality of your plan (10%), and your presentation and justification of your plan (10%). Individually you will describe one type of image you aim to capture, and explain how you will go about capturing it. You will be marked on your ability to 1) Anticipate which species you might find, and how you will go about setting up and capturing the shot (5%) and 2) Explain the necessary digital settings to capture your image given the expected conditions outlined in your plan (5%).This task provides the preliminary work for Task 3. Images may include some or all of the photos required for your photographic portfolio (Task 3).
No. Learning Outcome assessed
​Demonstration and application of knowledge regarding the construction of images to convey scientific information for research and communication in animal ecology.
Demonstration and application of knowledge regarding the structure and working of a digital camera to acquire your desired images.
Quality of critical analysis and problem solving regarding observing animals in their environment and capturing your desired images.
Quality of organisation and collaboration with peers to communicate your results.​
All - Assessment Task 3:Photo Portfolio
The goal of this task is to apply your knowledge of animal ecology and photography to illustrate animal habitats, animal behaviour and animal physiology.
Product: Portfolio
Produce a portfolio of images that communicate your intended message, including a description of how each final image was achieved and the information required to recreate each photograph. You will produce a photographic portfolio that will contain 12-15 images. These images will be in organised into groups of 3-4, which will address each of the headings outlined below. Images for Scientific IdentificationThese images will be designed to best facilitate identification of the subject species. They will include at least one whole-body image, plus other images that illustrate the key identifying features of the particular species (e.g. labial scales, toe pads, etc.). Techniques may include the provision of adequate lighting and the use of macro photography. Images illustrating aspects of Animal HabitatsThese images will illustrate an aspect of the habitat of the species of interest. These images will be taken in the field using some or all of the techniques and skills acquired in this course. Images illustrating aspects of Animal BehaviourThese images will illustrate an aspect of the behaviour of the species of interest. These images will be taken in the field using some or all of the techniques and skills acquired in this course. Images illustrating aspects of Animal PhysiologyThese images will illustrate an aspect of the physiology of the species of interest. These images will be taken in the field using some or all of the techniques and skills acquired in this course. Each group of images will be accompanied by short descriptions (100-150 words, max total 3000), outlining the species, significance of the image (e.g. which habitat/behaviour is being illustrated), techniques used to set up the image, camera settings used to capture the image, details of the post-processing (if required), and the ethics involved in capturing the image.
No. Learning Outcome assessed
​Demonstration of understanding of the composition of images to communicate scientific information for research in animal ecology.
Quality of critical analysis and problem solving relating to capturing your desired images. This can include aspects of both photography and observing, capturing and/or handling your photographic subjects.
Demonstration of ability to observe animals in wild, to catch animals safely and ethically for scientific purposes, and to recreate suitable backdrops in which to photograph them.
Quality of application of techniques in post-processing to better reflect the intended meaning as outlined above.
Quality of communication of results of your reflection on ethical issues relating not only to observing, capturing and/or handling your photographic subjects, but also on the integrity of the information conveyed by your images.​

Directed study hours

A 12-unit course will have total of 150 learning hours which will include directed study hours (including online if required), self-directed learning and completion of assessable tasks. Directed study hours may vary by location. Student workload is calculated at 12.5 learning hours per one unit.

What resources do I need to undertake this course?

Please note: Course information, including specific information of recommended readings, learning activities, resources, weekly readings, etc. are available on the course Canvas site– Please log in as soon as possible.

Prescribed text(s) or course reader

There are no required/recommended resources for this course.

Specific requirements

You will be required to have access to a digital camera. You should also be familiar with its use and have a good to fair ability to compose images.

How are risks managed in this course?

Risk assessments have been performed for all field activities and low to moderate levels of health and safety risk exists. Moderate risks may include working in an Australian bush setting, working with people, working outside normal office hours for example. It is your responsibility to review course material, search online, discuss with lecturers and peers and understand the health and safety risks associated with your specific course of study and to familiarise yourself with the University’s general health and safety principles by reviewing the online induction training for students, and following the instructions of the University staff.

What administrative information is relevant to this course?

Assessment: Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is the ethical standard of university participation.  It ensures that students graduate as a result of proving they are competent in their discipline.  This is integral in maintaining the value of academic qualifications. Each industry has expectations and standards of the skills and knowledge within that discipline and these are reflected in assessment.

Academic integrity means that you do not engage in any activity that is considered to be academic fraud; including plagiarism, collusion or outsourcing any part of any assessment item to any other person.  You are expected to be honest and ethical by completing all work yourself and indicating in your work which ideas and information were developed by you and which were taken from others. You cannot provide your assessment work to others. You are also expected to provide evidence of wide and critical reading, usually by using appropriate academic references.

In order to minimise incidents of academic fraud, this course may require that some of its assessment tasks, when submitted to Canvas, are electronically checked through Turnitin.  This software allows for text comparisons to be made between your submitted assessment item and all other work to which Turnitin has access.

Assessment: Additional Requirements

Eligibility for Supplementary Assessment

Your eligibility for supplementary assessment in a course is dependent of the following conditions applying:

The final mark is in the percentage range 47% to 49.4%
The course is graded using the Standard Grading scale
You have not failed an assessment task in the course due to academic misconduct

Assessment: Submission penalties

Late submission of assessment tasks may be penalised at the following maximum rate: 
- 5% (of the assessment task's identified value) per day for the first two days from the date identified as the due date for the assessment task. 
- 10% (of the assessment task's identified value) for the third day - 20% (of the assessment task's identified value) for the fourth day and subsequent days up to and including seven days from the date identified as the due date for the assessment task. 
- A result of zero is awarded for an assessment task submitted after seven days from the date identified as the due date for the assessment task. Weekdays and weekends are included in the calculation of days late. To request an extension you must contact your course coordinator to negotiate an outcome.


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Study help

For help with course-specific advice, for example what information to include in your assessment, you should first contact your tutor, then your course coordinator, if needed.

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  • Assessment: Courses and Coursework Programs
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  • Supplementary Assessment
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  • Student Academic Misconduct
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