There are approximately 250,000 plant species on the planet Earth. The importance of plants as the primary means of converting minerals and solar energy into 'life' is critical to the functioning of all other forms of life, including humans and the planet as a whole. This unit (RBF2620) focuses on developing a fuller understanding of the diversity and evolution of plants (including algae fungi), particularly in the Australian context. This understanding helps us to come to a greater appreciation of the role plants play in our everyday life. More specifically, there is emphasis on the morphological characteristics and life histories of the various major plant groups, their evolution and relationships, systematics, nomenclature, identification and classification. Additionally, there is a focus on how the biogeography of Australian plants can be explained by their life history and the history of the continent and particularly, how and why Australia has evolved a diverse and highly endemic primarily sclerophyllous flora where the forests and woodlands are dominated by two tree genera, Eucalyptus and Acacia.

Unit details

Study level:
Credit points:
Unit code:


RBF1310 - Biology 1

RBF1320 - Biology 2

Or equivalents to be determined by Unit coordinator.

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, students will be able to:
  1. Distinguish and identify key morphological features and life history characteristics of plants;  
  2. Distinguish and differentiate between major families, genera and species of Australian plants with professional skill and judgement using high-level identification guides;  
  3. Devise tools for collecting and preserving plant specimens with creativity and initiative; and  
  4. Articulate clearly, diagrammatically and in writing, complex information on the morphology, life cycles and relationships of various plant families and report on their evolutionary history.  


Assessment type Description Grade
Laboratory Work Lab reports 30%
Portfolio Herbarium and portfolio 30%
Test Tests 40%

Required reading

Biology: An Australian Focus 5th ed.
Knox, B., Ladiges, P., Evans, B., & Saint, R. (2010)
McGraw-Hill Education

Where to next?

As part of a course

This unit is studied as part of the following courses. Refer to the course page for information on how to apply for the course.

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