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An Ecological History of Humanity (UNIB10003)

Undergraduate level 1Points: 12.5On Campus (Parkville)

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Year of offer2019
Subject levelUndergraduate Level 1
Subject codeUNIB10003
Semester 1
FeesSubject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date

An Ecological History of Humanity is essential for students interested in the ecological crises facing our planet in the Age of the Anthropocene. Taught by a geographer, a zoologist, a microbiologist and an historian, it is an interdisciplinary exploration of our complex relationship with the environment past and present. This is deep history with a purpose, aiming to help you understand how ecology has been transformed through human behaviour, and to figure out a response to the problems this has created.

Our journey starts with the Big Bang, before exploring how life on earth developed, which, after a few billion years, lead to the dominion of the human species. Particular attention will be paid to the past 150,000 years and the impact human societies have had upon ecology. The major areas covered include: the transition from hunter-gathering to settled agricultural societies; the way diseases and society have interacted (including the major plagues in human history); the impact of industrialisation and globalisation upon the biosphere; the emergence of an ecological way of thinking; the political responses to the environmental crisis; and, thinking about how to achieve a sustainable future.

We also offer students, if they wish, the exciting opportunity of engaging with sustainability-based learning experiences outside of the university.

Intended learning outcomes

Students will:

  • explore the deep history of the current ecological crisis, including the complex relationship between the human species and the biosphere
  • analyse, synthesise and interpret a range of inter-and multi-disciplinary texts and sources that relate to ecological history
  • create effective arguments, backed up by convincing evidence, about the historical dynamics of ecology, and be able to express these to experts and interested non-experts alike
  • develop research skills, including the ability to extend your knowledge-base beyond subject materials, combining traditional library- and archive-based research with digital research
  • ethically engage with ecological issues, inside and outside the classroom
  • communicate and collaborate effectively in the classroom and on the page

Eligibility and requirements





Non-allowed subjects


Core participation requirements

The University of Melbourne is committed to providing students with reasonable adjustments to assessment and participation under the Disability Standards for Education (2005), and the Assessment and Results Policy (MPF1326). Students are expected to meet the core participation requirements for their course. These can be viewed under Entry and Participation Requirements for the course outlines in the Handbook.

Further details on how to seek academic adjustments can be found on the Student Equity and Disability Support website: http://services.unimelb.edu.au/student-equity/home


Semester 1


Book review

  • 800 words
Week 520%

Research report

  • 1200 words
Week 1030%

Critical Reflection

  • 2000 words
During the examination period50%

Tutorial Attendance & Assessment Hurdle

Hurdle requirement: Students must attend a minimum of 75% of tutorials in order to pass this subject. All pieces of written work must be submitted to pass this subject. Assessment submitted late without an approved extension will be penalised at 10% per day. After five days late assessment will not be marked. In-class tasks missed without approval will not be marked.
Throughout the semesterN/A

Dates & times

  • Semester 1
    Principal coordinatorJames Bradley
    Mode of deliveryOn Campus — Parkville
    Contact hours35 hours - 2 x 1 hour lectures each week and 1 x 1 hour tutorial for 11 weeks
    Total time commitment170 hours
    Teaching period 4 March 2019 to 2 June 2019
    Last self-enrol date15 March 2019
    Census date31 March 2019
    Last date to withdraw without fail10 May 2019
    Assessment period ends28 June 2019

    Semester 1 contact information

Time commitment details

170 hours

Further information

  • Texts

    Prescribed texts

    Clive Ponting: A New Green History of the World (Penguin Books or Viking)

  • Subject notes

    This subject together with UNIB20013 (Body Mind and Medicine) and UNIB30005 (Living Longer, a global diagnosis) form a recommended medical humanities stream for Medical students.

  • Breadth options
  • Available through the Community Access Program

    About the Community Access Program (CAP)

    This subject is available through the Community Access Program (also called Single Subject Studies) which allows you to enrol in single subjects offered by the University of Melbourne, without the commitment required to complete a whole degree.

    Entry requirements including prerequisites may apply. Please refer to the CAP applications page for further information.

  • Available to Study Abroad and/or Study Exchange Students

    This subject is available to students studying at the University from eligible overseas institutions on exchange and study abroad. Students are required to satisfy any listed requirements, such as pre- and co-requisites, for enrolment in the subject.

Last updated: 11 October 2019