Course Outline

SCI102 Biodiversity and Ecology

Course Coordinator:Renfu Shao ( School:School of Science, Technology and Engineering

2023Semester 2

UniSC Sunshine Coast

UniSC Moreton Bay

UniSC 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 for up to date information on the
teaching sessions and campuses where this course is usually offered.

What is this course about?


In this course you investigate the nature and diversity of life, from microorganisms and fungi to plants and animals. You explore the mechanism of biodiversity: evolution through natural selection. You also learn how different groups of organisms interact and are dependent on their habitats and each other. You use and expand this knowledge in laboratory classes by observing and describing specimens representing the variety of organisms. You also develop practical skills including scientific drawing, microbial isolation techniques, and the use and construction of identification keys.

How will this course be delivered?

Activity Hours Beginning Week Frequency
Blended learning
Learning materials – The learning materials will introduce you the diversity of life on Earth from microorganisms and fungi to plants and animals. You will explore the mechanism of biodiversity: evolution through natural selection. You also learn how different groups of organisms interact with and are dependent on each other on their habitats. 2hrs Week 1 12 times
Laboratory 1 – The laboratory classes will expand your knowledge and enhance your understanding of the key concepts introduced in the learning materials. You will observe and describe specimens representing the variety of organisms. You will also develop practical skills including scientific drawing, microbial isolation techniques, and the use and construction of identification keys. 2hrs Week 2 7 times
Tutorial/Workshop 1 – The tutorials will develop and put into practice your scientific vocabulary building, critical thinking and scientific writing skills. You will understand key concepts of evolution including speciation, extinction, selection and adaptation. You will develop and demonstrate knowledge of the processes and the mechanisms by which species are produced and multiple species co-exist. 2hrs Week 1 5 times
Seminar – On campus seminar 1hr Week 1 3 times

Course Topics

• Evolution, natural selection and the origin of new species

• Morphology and characteristics of major phyla

• Laboratory skills (microbiology, botany, zoology)

• Scientific drawing and writing skills

• Field investigation skills

• Ecology and conservation of populations and communities

What level is this course?

100 Level (Introductory)

Engaging with discipline knowledge and skills at foundational level, broad application of knowledge and skills in familiar contexts and with support. Limited or no prerequisites. Normally, associated with the first full-time study year of an undergraduate program.

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 develop and demonstrate knowledge of the processes that lead to biodiversity and the nature and characteristics of global biodiversity Knowledgeable
2 develop and put into practice the skills of scientific writing, scientific drawing and field investigation when undertaking tutorial, laboratory and field study exercises Knowledgeable
3 demonstrate your understanding of the ecological interactions between members of an ecological community, and the conservation implications when these interactions are affected by human or natural processes Creative and critical thinker
4 develop a range of practical skills required to undertake microbiological, botanical and zoological investigations Empowered

Am I eligible to enrol in this course?

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


Not applicable


Not applicable



Specific assumed prior knowledge and skills (where applicable)

High school level science

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

You will receive feedback on your learning of tutorials and labs via weekly online quizzes starting from week 1.

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 0%
Approx. 1 hr each
Refer to Format Online Test (Quiz)
All 2 Written Piece Individual 35%
Approx. 500-1000 words
Week 10 Online Submission
All 3 Practical / Laboratory Skills Individual 35%
Approx. 1 hr each
Refer to Format Online Test (Quiz)
All 4 Examination - Centrally Scheduled Individual 30%
Exam Period Exam Venue
All - Assessment Task 1:Tutorial quizzes
The formative tutorial quizzes test your knowledge of vocabulary related to biodiversity and ecology and your understanding of ecological processes and ecological interactions.  The materials covered in tutorial quizzes will also be assessed in tasks 2, 3 and 4.
Product: Quiz/zes
Individual. You will complete online quizzes from each tutorial in weeks 1, 3, 5 and 7.
No. Learning Outcome assessed
Correct answers and your participation in your own learning
1 3
All - Assessment Task 2:Interpreting Science
You will explore theories regarding the processes that lead to the evolution of biodiversity throughout the tutorial series and will develop skills in reading and comprehending scientific literature. This task specifically develops your critical analyses of science research and your ability to convey science concepts to other scientists.
Product: Written Piece
Individual students will complete fortnightly tutorial readings and associated written exercises prior to each tutorial class. You will be guided to reflect on and improve your written work during each tutorial. These will prepare you to achieve the best marks for your graded submission, the scientific paper review from your final tutorial class.
No. Learning Outcome assessed
Knowledge of the processes that lead to biodiversity
1 2 3
Description of the nature and characteristics of global biodiversity
1 3
Analysis of ecological interactions
Scientific writing – for a science audience
All - Assessment Task 3:Laboratory exercises
Demonstrate knowledge of the characteristics and taxonomy of a broad range of phyla, and practical techniques used to study them.
Product: Practical / Laboratory Skills
Individual. You will complete online quizzes from each lab exercise in weeks 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 11 and 12.
No. Learning Outcome assessed
Scientific drawing standards including accurate scale bars, labeling required features accurately and appropriately labelled, drawn in pencil, appropriate format.
2 4
Knowledge of the characteristics and taxonomy of a broad range of organisms including microorganisms, plants, invertebrates and vertebrates.
Knowledge of population and community diversity.
All - Assessment Task 4:Final exam
Demonstrate knowledge of the evolution and characteristics of major phyla, the processes by which biodiversity is generated and the ecological interactions among multispecies systems.
Product: Examination - Centrally Scheduled
Written exam including multiple choice and short answer questions based on directed readings, learning materials, tutorials, and laboratory classes.
No. Learning Outcome assessed
Correctly answer multiple choice questions; provide comprehensive written responses to short answer questions using a scientific writing style.
1 2 3

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. Student workload is calculated at 12.5 learning hours per one unit.


Period and Topic Activities
Week 1
Learning Material: Course introduction; Origins and patterns of global biodiversity
Tutorial: Evolution by natural selection
Week 2
Learning Material: Bacteria and archaea
Laboratory: Microbial techniques, microscopes and scientific drawing
Week 3
Learning Material: Fungi and protists
Tutorial: The role of ecology in the origin of new species
Week 4
Learning Material: Mosses and ferns
Laboratory: Mosses and ferns
Week 5
Learning Material: Gymnosperms and angiosperms
Tutorial: The role of genes in the origin of new species
Week 6
Learning Material: Invertebrates: Sponges and cnidaria
Laboratory: Gymnosperms and angiosperms
Week 7
Learning Material: Invertebrates: Lophotrochozoa
Tutorial: Extinction and evolution
Week 8
Learning Material: Invertebrates: Ecdysozoa
Laboratory: Arthropods and lophotrochozoans
Week 9
Learning Material: Birds
Tutorial: Where do all the species come from and how do they coexist?
week 10
Learning Material: Chordates
Laboratory: Freshwater biodiversity
Week 11
Learning Material: Population and community ecology
Laboratory: Classification and identification of vertebrates
week 12
Learning Material: Conservation of biodiversity
Laboratory: Population and community diversity
Week 13
Seminar: Course synthesis and exam preparation

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

Please note that you need to have regular access to the resource(s) listed below. Resources may be required or recommended.

Required? Author Year Title Edition Publisher
Recommended Lisa A. Urry,Philippa Howden-Chapman,Lisa Early,Steven Alexander Wasserman,Jenny Ombler,Michael Lee Cain,Neil A. Campbell,Jane B. Reece,Peter V. Minorsky,Noel Meyers 2018 Campbell Biology 11th Edition Pearson Australia
Recommended Lisa A. Urry,Noel Meyers,Michael Lee Cain,Steven Alexander Wasserman,Peter V. Minorsky,Rebecca B. Orr,Karen Burke da Silva,Ann Parkinson,Lesley Lluka,Prasad Chunduri 2021 Campbell Biology 12th Pearson Education Australia

Specific requirements

Lab coat and safety glasses required for laboratory classes.
Personal laptop computer required for Week 12 laboratory classes.

How are risks managed in this course?

Risk assessments have been performed for all laboratory classes and a moderate level of health and safety risk exists. Moderate risks are those associated with laboratory work such as working with chemicals and hazardous substances. You will be required to undertake laboratory induction training and it is also 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

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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The SafeUSC Specialist Service is a Student Wellbeing service that provides free and confidential support to students who may have experienced or observed behaviour that could cause fear, offence or trauma. To contact the service call 07 5430 1226 or email

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.

If you require additional assistance, the Learning Advisers are trained professionals who are ready to help you develop a wide range of academic skills. Visit the Learning Advisers web page for more information, or contact Student Central for further assistance: +61 7 5430 2890 or

Wellbeing Services

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To book a confidential appointment go to Student Hub, email or call 07 5430 1226.

AccessAbility Services

Ability Advisers ensure equal access to all aspects of university life. If your studies are affected by a disability, learning disorder mental health issue, injury or illness, or you are a primary carer for someone with a disability or who is considered frail and aged, AccessAbility Services can provide access to appropriate reasonable adjustments and practical advice about the support and facilities available to you throughout the University.

To book a confidential appointment go to Student Hub, email or call 07 5430 2890.

Links to relevant University policy and procedures

For more information on Academic Learning & Teaching categories including:

  • Assessment: Courses and Coursework Programs
  • Review of Assessment and Final Grades
  • Supplementary Assessment
  • Administration of Central Examinations
  • Deferred Examinations
  • Student Academic Misconduct
  • Students with a Disability

For more information, visit

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