Monash University

Undergraduate - Area of study

Students who commenced study in 2015 should refer to this area of study entry for direction on the requirements; to check which units are currently available for enrolment, refer to the unit indexes in the the current edition of the Handbook. If you have any queries contact the managing faculty for your area of study.

print version

This area of study entry applies to students commencing this course in 2015 and should be read in conjunction with the relevant course entry in the Handbook. Any units listed for this area of study relate only to the 'Requirements' outlined in the Faculty of Science component of any bachelors double degrees.

Managing facultyFaculty of Science
Offered bySchool of Biological Sciences
CoordinatorAssociate Professor Richard Reina


  • Unit codes that are not linked to their entry in the Handbook are not available for study in the current year.
  • This area of study is only available as an extended (72-point) major.


NOTE: This area of study has had one or more changes made to it since publication on 1 October 2014. For details of changes, please consult the 2015 Handbook change register2015 Handbook change register (http://www.monash.edu.au/pubs/2015handbooks/2015-change-register.html).

Environmental science is a discipline that deals with the rapidly changing environmental issues facing the world today. At Monash students receive a multi-disciplinary perspective of current environmental challenges, such as climate change, water and land management, resource use and sustainability.

Both a fundamental understanding of science and the application of this science to address environmental issues are core to environmental science at Monash. Understanding our environment and the biological, geographical and physical processes that occur within it is key to effective management, planning and policy.

Students begin their studies begin with a strong basis in environmental biology and the challenges facing the world, then build upon this knowledge to understand principles and application of ecology, conservation and geographical sciences. Students are equipped with the capability to seek, measure, understand and apply scientific information for the management of our natural systems in a broad scientific context. This extended major in environmental science equips students with the knowledge and skills to span disciplines and understand interactions between the living and non-living worlds.

Learning outcomes

Graduates will be able to:

  • demonstrate an understanding of the methods of environmental science and explain how scientific knowledge is contestable and testable by further enquiry
  • recognise and appreciate the significant role of biodiversity in sustaining life on our planet and articulate the role and relevance of environmental science in society
  • demonstrate broad knowledge in ecology and conservation biology and geographical science and an understanding of the multi-disciplinary and inter-disciplinary nature of environmental science
  • gather, synthesize and critically evaluate information to analyse and produce solutions to environmental problems by selecting and applying practical and/or theoretical techniques and tools to conduct an investigation within the lab, field or virtual environment
  • convey scientific ideas, results and arguments effectively to diverse audiences and in a variety of modes
  • work and learn in both independent and collaborative ways with others while exercising personal, professional and social responsibility that recognises the importance of practising environmental science sustainably, ethically and safely in an internationalised world.


Level one

Level two

  • ATS2548 Environmental policy and management
  • BIO2040 Conservation biology
  • BIO2011 Ecology and biodiversity
  • ENV2022 Environmental sampling and monitoring

Level three

  • BIO3070 Trends in ecology
  • BIO3082 Global change biology
  • BIO3091 Biology of Australian vegetation
  • BIO3111 Ecological applications
  • ENV3022 Environmental technology
  • ATS3259 Geographical information systems (GIS) for environmental management
  • ATS3545 Environmental hydrology
  • ATS3546 Environmental assessment and decision making
  • ATS3552 Remote sensing of the environment
  • ATS3553 Field studies in regional sustainability
  • ATS3554 Resource evaluation and management
  • ATS3788 Soils, landscapes and their management
  • ATS3791 Environmental change: Past to future

Sequence requirements

Extended major in environmental science (72 points)

* This unit has an additional pre-requisite at level one that needs to be taken in addition to the units listed.

Additional information

Level one

In their first year, students studying environmental science will take BIO1042 and ATS1309. The focus in first year is to provide the basic knowledge to understand the global challenges to the environment and the biological processes that occur within it. Examples come from the impact of humans on the environment and the fundamental interactions between living and non-living things and the environments in which they are found.

Level two

Students planning to complete the extended major must complete BIO2011, BIO2040, ENV2022 and ATS2548. These units provide the knowledge to understand the biological challenges in ecology and conservation, how to monitor the environment and then how to apply this information in the context of environmental policy and management. Level two environmental science builds upon first year to examine patterns of biodiversity and the processes that underpin that biodiversity, in addition to ecosystem processes that occur in natural food webs. A strong emphasis is placed on the ecological generalities that underpin occurrence and interactions of animals and plants with their environments and the application of ecological principles to manage species of conservation influence, drawing heavily on examples from Australia and overseas. This learning is complemented by an introduction to the perspectives and issues that influence environmental policy and management and the importance of understanding appropriate ways to design monitoring and sampling programs in air, soil and water. The teaching in the units at level two is a combination of lectures, seminars, tutorials and practical activities, including field exercises and laboratory sessions.

It is strongly recommended that students enrolling in any level-two environmental science units read the requirements of their desired level three sequence units carefully to ensure that they have satisfied the specific prerequisites.

Level three

The final year of the environmental science extended major broadens and enhances the knowledge and skills gained in earlier levels. Students must complete BIO3111, BIO3070, ENV3022 and either ATS3552 or ATS3259. These units provide advanced understanding of the principles and applications of ecological knowledge in an environmental context, technologies that impact the environment, and techniques and methods for remote sensing of environmental state. These units draw heavily upon real-world examples of ecological and environmental issues, as well contemporary techniques for addressing them. The two remaining units in the major can be selected from BIO3091, BIO3082, ATS2545/3545, ATS3788, ATS3554, ATS3546, ATS3791, ATS3553 and either ATS2549 or ATS3552 (if not already taken as a core unit). This range of units allows students in the extended major to mix both ecological and geographical disciplines equally or to focus primarily on one. They complement the core units by broadening the base of ecological principles and the responses of plants and animals to their natural environment, as well as putting management, assessment and decision making of environmental issues in a strong, applied context. Students may choose to specialise in areas of soil science, environmental hydrology, applied resource monitoring and evaluation or Australian vegetation. Students that complete the extended major will have encountered a broad range of biological, geographical and technological concepts that will provide them broad and advanced knowledge in the environmental science area of study.


Honours is not presently available in Environmental science but students may consider honours in a related discipline, like geographical science or a biological sciences area. With careful planning, students must meet the entry requirements for the relevant science honours discipline as published in the handbook. This may require the completion of additional relevant science units. Students should contact Science Student Services for assistance before enrolling to ensure that the program they wish to follow will satisfy the entry requirements for honours in another discipline.

Relevant courses

Single degrees

  • S2000 Bachelor of Science
  • S3001 Bachelor of Science Advanced - Global Challenges (Honours)
  • S3002 Bachelor of Science Advanced - Research (Honours)

Double degrees

  • 0530 Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science
  • 3528 Bachelor of Biomedical Science and Bachelor of Science
  • 1469 Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Science
  • D3005 Bachelor of Education (Honours) and Bachelor of Science
  • 4646 Bachelor of Environmental Engineering (Honours) and Bachelor of Science
  • 4069 Bachelor of Journalism and Bachelor of Science
  • L3007 Bachelor of Laws (Honours) and Bachelor of Science
  • 4638 Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Engineering (Honours)
  • S2003 Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Global Studies

Honours degrees

  • 0051 Bachelor of Science (Honours)
  • 2188 Bachelor of Science (Science Scholar Program) (Honours)