BIOS1301 - Ecology and Sustainability

Centennial Field Trip

This course provides an introduction to first year level, ecology and sustainability. During the course we tackle a range of present biological, ecological and environmental issues and look at ways scientists currently approach these topics to solve problems.

This course is designed to develop student skills in critically assessing scientific information routinely debated by the public and decision-makers. It provides a strong grounding in today's and tomorrow's environmental problems and the role that science plays in mitigating and providing solutions.

BIOS1301 is offered in Term 1

6 units of credit

Current handbook entry Current timetable Course outline

Field trip

 Who should I contact?

Coordinator: Professor Richard Kingsford & Dr Teagan Gale

What does this course cover?


Four overarching themes are covered by the lectures:

  • Introduction to ecology and sustainability
  • Biodiversity and landscape processes
  • Disturbance ecology and impacts of threats
  • Management of ecosystems within the context of ecologically sustainable development


The practicals have been designed to teach students skills which form the foundation of ecological monitoring. These include an introduction to common software packages used in ecology as well as field observation, monitoring, collection and data analysis techniques.

Where does this course fit into my degree?

This is a Stage 1 course. It will equip you with skills required for higher level ecology, biology and environmental impact and management subjects. This course encourages critical thought and provides a fundamental base for those wishing to specialise in environmental science, ecology, zoology, botany, geography, marine biology and environmental management. It also complements non-science degrees as an elective since environmental issues are ubiquitous in modern society.

Is there assumed prior knowledge or a co-requisite?

No requirements.

Are there mandatory activities for this course?

Practicals are mandatory- an attendance record of above 80% for practical classes is required to pass this course. There are 7 practicals in total which include 2 field trips (Centennial Park and Randwick Environment Park) and two self-guided excursions (Taronga Zoo and Australian Museum). The Zoo and Museum Trips require an entry fee. 

Is there anything else I should know?

The location of the practical class changes each week, depending on the activity. Please refer to the lab manual and course Moodle page for the exact location of your class. 

There is a final exam (45%) for this course. The exam is scheduled for the exam period.

Archived Course Outlines.

2017 course outline

2016 course outline

Student feedback comments (from the MyExperience UNSW Course Review 2017):

“Really fun! The labs where the best part, on a whole it was very enjoyable”.

“The content was fascinating, and the lecturers were passionate about it”.

“I liked how it addressed current issues. It opened students up to depths of conservation and environmental management, showed links between society/ government/ environment -presented ways everyone, regardless of status, can make a change (from public communities to government representatives) -> broadened

my view on the different ways environmental issues can be resolved”.

“I really enjoyed learning about the large numbers of different ecosystems, particularly in the Sydney region. Learning about the types of plants and animals, whether they are native or not and thinking how we can conserve their ecosystems especially in an increasing urban environment.”

“I thoroughly enjoyed the hands-on learning experiences such as going out to the field (e.g Randwick Environmental Park, Centennial Park e.t.c).”

” The hands-on experience, field excursions and exciting laboratories made this course unique and exciting”.

“Getting outside as part of the course, was a refreshing change of pace.”

“The holisticness of concepts that were taught in the lecturers- covering all/a lot about ecology and sustainability.”

“Loved the range of topics and guest speakers, super interesting. Field trips were also fun.”

“I liked how there was a strong focus on worldly environmental events through relevant case studies. Really enjoyed the diversity of guest lecturers - kept me engaged.”


NB: All information provided on this page is superseded by information provided by the course coordinator or lecturer(s).