Plant science is the study of plants, their diversity and structure, and how they function. It involves studying plants living on land, in the sea and in freshwater environments, from the scale of genes and molecules to ecology. Plants are a diverse set of organisms that are able to live autotrophically, harvesting light and using its energy to fix carbon and manufacture complex organic molecules. In plant science we study the great diversity of plant groups, from algae and mosses through to gymnosperms and angiosperms; we investigate how plants function, for example, how they obtain water and nutrients and how they use energy from sunlight to produce carbohydrates by photosynthesis. We also study how plants are adapted to particular environments, and the factors that influence the distribution and diversity of plant species and the plant communities in which they grow. These factors are particularly important in understanding the impact of human activities, including global climate change, on plant communities so that we can provide better management into the future.
Studying plant science begins with study of general biology in first year, in which the basics of plant chemistry, genetics, structure, function, evolution and ecology are covered. In second year, studies focus on the different types of plants, their key features and evolutionary development, and on the structure and development of plants and how these are integrated with plant function. These studies continue at third year, with units focusing on the biology and ecology of terrestrial and aquatic plants and plant communities in their natural environment. Additional units can be included that expand on some aspects of research methods, ecological management, and the biology and ecology of aquatic organisms. Students may also include units that focus more on genetic control of development and function, or on plant biotechnology.
Careers available to students that study plant sciences include environmental management and consulting, biotechnology, a range of careers in government departments (e.g. related to environmental issues, park management, primary industry and sustainability), crop science, research and teaching.
Plant sciences is listed in S2000 Bachelor of Science, S3001 Bachelor of Science Advanced - Global Challenges (Honours) and S3002 Bachelor of Science Advanced - Research (Honours) at Clayton as a major or minor.
In addition to achieving the broad outcomes of their course, students successfully completing this major will be able to:
- demonstrate an understanding of the methods used in plant sciences and explain how scientific knowledge is contestable and testable by further enquiry and recognise the importance of biodiversity for sustaining life on our planet
- exhibit a breadth of knowledge about plant diversity and the evolution and ecology of the major plant groups, including the development, morphology and physiology of plants and how these are integrated with plant function
- gather, synthesize and critically evaluate information relevant to the plant sciences by applying practical and/or theoretical techniques and tools to conduct an investigation within the lab, field or virtual environment.