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Schools in Science


General Unit Information

Students sampling in quadrat Kangaroo with exclusion plot

This unit teaches fundamental skills for the design and application of research in the biological sciences, including experimental design and data analysis. A scan through recent papers in relevant biology journals and environmental reports (e.g. EIS) reveals how much biologists rely on carefully formulated hypotheses, rigorously designed sampling programs and experiments and their careful analysis, and critical evaluations of the literature for answering critical questions and making defensible scientific decisions and recommendations.

An increasingly important criterion for employers in government and the private sector considering graduates in biology and environmental science is their ability to think critically and design appropriate research programs. This unit introduces the development of scientific hypotheses and models and covers the design, analysis and interpretation of experiments and sampling programs. Additionally, skills for writing and assessing scientific papers and reports, including the scientific peer review process, oral presentations and critical reviews are covered. This subject emphasises flexible delivery and computer skills.

The lectures and prac classes will be combined and will be mostly based around worksheets requiring computer analyses of real data sets in students' own time, and discussion groups. Web-based resources will be available. BIO3011 is a prerequisite for students wishing to undertake BIO4000 (Honours).


  1. Explain the basic principles underlying the philosophy of science
  2. Design testable hypotheses and predictions in biological investigations
  3. Demonstrate critical, analytical skills in writing, assessing and publishing scientific papers and reports and interpretation of biological data
  4. Evaluate and determine the suitability of different statistical approaches to analyse biological data
  5. Apply current techniques of statistical analysis

Specific Unit Information

NamesDr Christopher Johnstone
Office Location25Rnf/117
Office HoursBy appointment - please e-mail
Technical Coordinator
Names:Danielle Annese
Office Location25Rnf/114
PrescribedAsking Questions in Biology. A Guide to Hypothesis Testing, Experimental Design and Presentation in Practical Work and Research Projects. Gilbert, G., Mcgregor, P. and C. Barnard (2011). 4th ed., Pearson Education Ltd.
RecommendedExperimental Design and Data Analysis for Biologists. Quinn, G.P. & M. J. Keough (2003). Cambridge University Press.
 Practical statistics for field biology. Fowler, J., Cohen, L. & P. Jarvis (1998). 2nd ed., Wiley.
More introductoryStatistics Without Tears. Rowntree, D. (1981). Penguin.
 Biometry : The principles and practice of statistics in biological research.  Sokal, R.R. and F. J. Rohlf (1995). 3rd ed., W.H. Freeman.
 Introductory Statistics for Biology Students. Watt, T.A. (1993/1997). Chapman & Hall.
Program for 2017
University Handbook EntryBIO3011 - Synopsis, Assessment & Prerequisites
ScheduleBIO3011 - Lecture & Practical Schedule for 2017
Important Links
Science FacultyInformation for Students - Enrolments, Prac Sessions, more.....
UniversityInformation for Students - Timetables, Exam, Semester Dates, more.....

in School of Biological Sciences