The University of Newcastle, Australia
Available in 2019

Course handbook


This course introduces the taxonomic and functional diversity of organisms together with their interactions with each other and the physical world.

Students will gain an understanding of the immense scale of biological diversity, how that diversity arose and what are the essential elements required to maintain that diversity. This course is also the gateway to real understanding of how organisms work including the development and function of multicellular organisms. This understanding of the organism will then be expanded to interactions between organisms as populations, communities and ecosystems. Understanding how organisms and ecosystems function enables us to move towards living systems that are aligned with natural processes and are essential ingredients to sustainability.

Students who have completed this course are well placed to study further studies in: animal and plant development and function; microbiology; ecology, biodiversity and environmental biology courses at 2000 and 3000 level.

Availability2019 Course Timetables


  • Semester 2 - 2019


  • Semester 2 - 2019

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of the course students will be able to:

1. Explain biodiversity and its evolutionary history.

2. Define biological terminology in relation to tissues, organisms, ecology and ecosystems

3. Recognise the diversity of the form, development and function of microbes and multicellular organisms

4. Understand the concepts of micro and macro evolution and speciation and outline mechanisms underpinning taxonomic and functional diversity.

5. Understand the concepts in ecosystem function and anthropocentric environmental impact in the Australian context

6. Posses fundamental skills in the collection and interpretation of biological information

7. Apply critical thinking and the scientific approach


Introduction to the Ecosystem - Ecosystems are made up of a diversity of organisms which interact with each other and the physical environment to perform ecosystem functions. Course aims to outline origin and scale of organism diversity and how they interact with the physical environment to form the living Earth.

Origin and Scale of Diversity:

  • Evolving life and mechanisms of evolution
  • Origin of species
  • Kingdoms of living things
  • Coping with complexity - Classification and relatedness

Biology of Organisms:

  • Diversity and function of microbes & fungi
  • Diversity, development & function of plants
  • Diversity, development & function of animals

Ecology and Ecosystem Function:

  • The Australian Biota
  • Populations & Communities
  • Biomes and Australian Ecosystems
  • Ecosystem functions
  • Human Impacts on the Australian Environment


This course has similarities to BIOL1070 and BIOL1050. If you have successfully completed either of these courses you cannot enrol in this course.

Assumed knowledge

HSC Mathematics and Chemistry are advisable.

Assessment items

Formal Examination: Exam

Quiz: Quiz-On-Line

Contact hours

Callaghan and Ourimbah


Face to Face On Campus 52 hour(s) per Term Full Term

Total hours to be spread across a normal semester term or compressed into a summer/winter term