University of Sydney Handbooks - 2018 Archive

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Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Study in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology is offered by the School of Life and Environmental Science. Units of study in this major are mostly available at standard and advanced level.

About the major

Ecology and evolution are important concepts that underlie a broad range of the biological sciences. Ecology investigates the processes that govern the biological interactions between individuals and that operate on ecosystem scales. Evolution is a unifying theme that explains the patterns we observe in the natural world, ranging from genomes to the diversification of life through time.

The fields of Ecology and Evolution intersect at multiple levels and are critically relevant to real-world challenges, including wildlife conservation.

In this major you will learn about evolutionary and ecological processes and how these influence the population dynamics of animals, plants, and other organisms. This knowledge forms the basis for the effective management and conservation of biodiversity, ecosystems, and habitats.

Requirements for completion

A major in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology requires 48 credit points, consisting of:

(i) 12 credit points of 1000-level core units
(ii) 12 credit points of 2000-level core units
(iii) 18 credit points of 3000-level core units
(iv) 6 credit points of 3000-level selective units

A minor in Wildlife Conservation is available and articulates to this major.

Pathway through the major

The requirements for a major in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology are spread out over three years of the degree (possibly four years if students are completing a combined Bachelor of Advanced Studies degree).

A sample pathway for the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology major (over three years of a degree) is listed below.

Sample pathway Ecology and Evolutionary Biology major (48 credit points)



Units of study


Semester 1

Core: BIOL1XX6 Life and Evolution

Semester 2

Core: BIOL1XX7 From Molecules to Ecosystems


Semester 2

Core: BIOL2X24 Ecology and Conservation

Semester 2

Core: BIOL2X22 Biology Experimental Design and Analysis


Semester 1 or 2

Core: BIO3033 Evolutionary Biology

Core: BIOL3034 Australian Biodiversity and Systematics

Selective: 3000-level units listed for major

Semester 2

Core: BIOL3X07 Ecology

Please Note. This sample progression is meant as an example only. Depending on unit prerequisites, students may be able to complete these units in a different sequence from that displayed in the table above.

For details of the core and selective units of study required for the major or minor please refer to the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology section of the unit of study table, Table S, in this handbook.

Fourth year

The fourth year is only offered within the combined Bachelor of Science/Bachelor of Advanced Studies course.

Advanced coursework
The Bachelor of Advanced Studies advanced coursework option consists of 48 credit points, which must include a minimum of 24 credit points in a single subject area at 4000-level, including a project unit of study worth at least 12 credit points. Space is provided for 12 credit points towards the second major (if not already completed). 24 credit points of advanced study will be included in the table for 2020.

Requirements for Honours in the area of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology: completion of 36 credit points of project work and 12 credit points of coursework.

Honours units of study will be available in 2020.

Contact and further information

T 1800 793 864

School of Life and Environmental Sciences
Level 5, Carslaw Building (F07)
The University of Sydney NSW 2006

Professor Frank Seebacher
T +61 2 9351 2779

Professor Simon Ho
T +61 2 9351 8681
Learning Outcomes

Students who graduate from Ecology and Evolutionary Biology will be able to:

  1. Use biological language to discuss, explain and apply ecological and evolutionary processes and their role in wildlife conservation.
  2. Independently identify and interpret ecological and evolutionary literature.
  3. Use statistical tools and concepts to analyse and interpret ecological and evolutionary data.
  4. Describe and explain the meaning of ecological and evolutionary experimental results within the context of the current literature.
  5. Communicate the objectives and hypotheses being tested in experimental investigations.
  6. Create coherent arguments in oral presentations and written reports using evidence from experiments and the literature.
  7. Analyse the effectiveness of species conservation strategies and conflicts from multiple perspectives.
  8. Analyse conservation issues using ecological and evolutionary principles from individual species to global populations and communities.