Handbook Public View

This page displays current curriculum information. For staff view, please login

Unit (2019)

Information on this page, including unit offerings, is from the 2019 academic year.

Environmental Biology (BIO103)

Organisational Unit Environmental and Conservation Sciences
Credit Points 3
Availability MURDOCH: S1-internal, S1-external
Teaching Timetables Murdoch S1
Description This unit introduces the theoretical and practical framework underpinning studies of natural ecosystems. Topics of classifying biodiversity, interactions within the biosphere and human impacts are explored using the unifying themes of the scientific method, the cell theory and evolution. Detailed examples include the near shore marine environment, the freshwater environment and the arid terrestrial environment. Australian case studies illustrate basic principles. Practical work reinforces the environmental theme while building skills in observation, quantification, experimental design and interpreting data.
Unit Learning Outcomes There are theory, practical and overall learning outcomes.
At the end of the theory component you will be able to:
1. Explain the role of hypothesis, replication and control treatments in experimental design and illustrate your understanding by either (i) designing simple experiments of your own, or (ii) providing an intelligent critique of an example of an experimental design.
2. Outline the major tenets of the cell theory and the theory of evolution and explain how these theories unify modern biology.
3. Describe the main features of marine, inland aquatic and terrestrial environments and give examples of animals and plants that are adapted to each.
4. Outline the main features of conservation biology as a sub-discipline of environmental biology and present a rationale for the conservation of the wild living resources of the earth.


At the end of the practical component you will be able to:

1. Observe biological specimens using both compound and dissecting microscopes.
2. Identify organisms using simple dichotomous keys and design simple keys of your own.
3. Write clear, concise reports on your laboratory and field work that follow standard biological conventions, especially referencing.
4. Access primary sources of biological information using electronic references and journal databases.


During the unit as a whole you will be able to:

1. Demonstrate responsibility for your own planning and organisation by submitting work on time.
Timetabled Learning Activities Lectures: 3 hours per week; laboratories/field work: up to 3 hours per week. (External students undertake take-home exercises in lieu of attendance for laboratories/field work).
Unit Learning Experiences The approach to learning in this unit involves structured timetabled learning in lectures and laboratories/tutorials to provide students with the basic biological knowledge and laboratory skills necessary for advanced studies in the life sciences. External students use internet-based resources and take home practical exercises.
Other Learning Experiences External students undertake take-home exercises in lieu of attendance for laboratories/field work
Assessment Assessment is based on written reports of laboratory activities, a mid-semester test and a final examination. The mark for the first report is not recorded, giving students a chance to benefit from feedback before their first assessed submissions. Detailed feedback is given on all other reports. Sample examination papers and worked solutions are provided to guide preparation for the examination and the mid-semester test.
Prerequisites Nil.
Exclusions Students who have successfully completed BIO103 Environmental Biology/Introduction to Environmental Biology cannot enrol for credit in this unit.
Previously 2016: 'Introduction to Environmental Biology'; 2013: 'Environmental Biology'
Appears in these Courses/Majors:
see individual structures for context
Biological Sciences (BSc) [New in 2014]
Biology and Environmental Science Major Teaching Area (BEd(Sec)) [New in 2019]
Biology and Human Biology Major Teaching Area (BEd(Sec)) [New in 2019]
Conservation and Wildlife Biology (BSc) [New in 2014]
Earth and Environmental Science Major Teaching Area (BEd(Sec)) [New in 2019]
Environmental Management and Sustainability (BSc) [New in 2014]
Environmental Science (BSc) [New in 2014]
Marine Biology (BSc) [New in 2017]
Physics Major Teaching Area (BEd(Sec)) [New in 2019]
Environmental Engineering Honours (BE(Hons)) [New in 2015]
Appears in these Co-Majors Biological Science Minor Teaching Area
Earth and Environmental Science Minor Teaching Area
Appears in these Minors Ecosystem Management
Fisheries Science
Marine Biology
Plant Biology
Resource Management
Sustainability, Ecosystems and Community Development
Wildlife Conservation
Internet Access RequirementsMurdoch units normally include an online component comprising materials, discussions, lecture recordings and assessment activities. All students, regardless of their location or mode of study, need to have access to and be able to use computing devices with browsing capability and a connection to the Internet via Broadband (Cable, ADSL or Mobile) or Wireless. The Internet connection should be readily available and allow large amounts of data to be streamed or downloaded (approximately 100MB per lecture recording). Students also need to be able to enter into online discussions and submit assignments online.


Unit Coordinator
No co-ordinators found for this unit.
Unit Contacts
No contacts found for this unit.
Fee Calculator
Handbook help
Information for Students


The University reserves the right to cancel, without notice, any course, major, minor or unit if the number of students enrolled falls below limits set by the University.

Regulations and Rules

Students should ensure they are familiar with the University's internal legislation, including provisions specifically relevant to their studies. See the University Regulation overview and view legislation online.