Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit



Unit rationale, description and aim

The structure of the unit is built around three themes that facilitate the development of scientific knowledge, skills and processes. These are the social and environmental impact of technology, health and wellbeing for humanity, and responding to change in the environment. Each of these themes contributes to the broader issues of social justice and sustainability, and the role of scientific literacy in critically reflecting on the relationship between humans and the universe that sustains us.

In this unit students will develop: i) knowledge and understanding of topical science concepts; ii) skills in the cognitive and physical processes of scientific investigations; iii) analytical thinking about scientific issues and ethics; and iv) skills for communicating about contemporary scientific issues.

The aim of this unit is to develop students' content knowledge and inquiry skills in the area of Science. It is designed as a tertiary preparation unit that will facilitate students developing learning and inquiry skills that integrate the content of Science with literacy, numeracy and digital literacy. The skills developed through this unit will be transferrable to other content areas.

Students will develop and demonstrate their scientific knowledge, skills and processes through a range of assessments; including laboratory journals, short response quizzes, extended response questions, and an experimental investigation.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - Articulate knowledge and understanding of ideas using scientific terminology, definitions, concepts and theories to develop explanations of real-world systems and patterns (GA4, GA5) 

LO2 - Conduct investigations and use scientific and technological equipment to safely gather data and information for formulating questions, hypothesising, experimenting and evaluating scientific issues (GA4, GA5, GA6, GA8)   

LO3 - Analyse scientific knowledge and processes to draw conclusions and express positions that are scientifically and technologically informed (GA3, GA4, GA8) 

LO4 - Engage critically with issues of social justice and sustainability in the application of science as a human endeavour with limitations and contradictions (GA2, GA4, GA5) 

LO5 - Communicate qualitative and quantitative information and ideas in a variety of ways using scientific convention and terminology in written, oral and multimedia formats (GA5, GA8, GA9, GA10). 

Graduate attributes

GA2 - recognise their responsibility to the common good, the environment and society 

GA3 - apply ethical perspectives in informed decision making

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

GA5 - demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession 

GA6 - solve problems in a variety of settings taking local and international perspectives into account

GA8 - locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information 

GA9 - demonstrate effective communication in oral and written English language and visual media 

GA10 - utilise information and communication and other relevant technologies effectively.


Lecture topics will include: 

  • Science as a human activity; investigating the world around us 
  • Sustainability; social and environmental ethics in science 
  • The scope of science; branches of scientific endeavour 
  • Interdisciplinary approaches to scientific problems 
  • Scientific inquiry; conducting scientific investigations 
  • Scientific inquiry skills; using and manipulating tools and resources 
  • Communicating scientific ideas; using scientific genres for reporting and explaining  
  • Communicating scientific data and evidence; using tables, graphs and diagrams  
  • Using digital resources to communicate scientific data, evidence and ideas  

Laboratory topics and investigations will include: 

  • Theme 1: Social and environmental impact of technology (4 weeks) 
  • Focus topics: communication and transportation 
  • The science of technology; applications of physics and chemistry 
  • Harnessing and using energy  
  • Historical development of scientific technologies   
  • Theme 2: Health and wellbeing for humanity (4 weeks) 
  • Focus topics: nutrition and genetics  
  • Biological systems  
  • Nutritional and energy inputs and outputs of humans  
  • Heredity 

  • Theme 3: Responding to change in the environment (4 weeks) 
  • Focus topics: natural disasters and biodiversity 
  • Causes and impacts of geological and meteorological events 
  • Ecosystems 

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

Mode for International Students: Attendance on campus: 5 hours per week 

Mode for Domestic Students: Multi-mode: attendance on campus: 3 hours per week plus 2 hours online learning.  

This unit will be taught using a sequence of lectures (1 hour/week), tutorials (2 hours a week) and laboratory sessions (2 hours/week). Lectures will incorporate a range of cooperative activities and discussions based on set textual and video readings. Students will be expected to read or view the required readings prior to lecture attendance. Tutorials will provide an opportunity for students to discuss the weekly lecture, integrate content knowledge from their reading and access to online resources, ask questions and contribute to class learning. Laboratory sessions will involve students in both hands-on and research-based scientific investigations related to the focus topics. Students will be expected to collate materials throughout the sessions to complete the investigations. Attendance at laboratory sessions will be required to complete the assessment for this unit.   

Duration: A 10 week-term in Attendance mode. Students should anticipate undertaking 150 hours of study for this unit; including class attendance, readings and assignment preparation. 

Assessment strategy and rationale

Formative Assessment will take the form of a hurdle task where students must complete weekly short answer quizzes on LEO, to check their progress and review scientific content and processes covered. 


Assessment tasks will include a practical small group scientific investigation and report, an examination to check students’ ability to analyse and explain scientific data and evidence, and a laboratory manual. 

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Hurdle Task: Weekly quiz on LEO 

Weekly short-response quizzes to review scientific content and processes covered 


 LO1, LO2, LO3

GA3, GA4, GA5, GA6, GA8

Assessment 1: Experimental Report 

In groups of three, students plan, undertake and report on a scientific investigation related to one of the focus themes. 


 LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4, LO5

GA2, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA6, GA8, GA9, GA10

Assessment 2: Examination 

Combined short and extended response questions focusing on the analysis and explanation of previously unseen scientific data and evidence. Topics covered will be related to the core themes of the unit. 


 LO1, LO3, LO4, LO5

GA2, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9, GA10

Assessment 3: Laboratory Journal 

Completion and collation of materials from a selection of laboratory sessions covering each of the core themes of the unit.   


 LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4, LO5

GA2, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA6, GA8, GA9, GA10

Representative texts and references

Dear, P. R. (2006). The intelligibility of nature: How science makes sense of the world. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.  

Farrow, S. (2006). The really useful science book. Abingdon, UK: Routledge.  

Gott, R., & Duggan, S. (2003). Understanding and using scientific evidence: How to critically evaluate data. [electronic resource]. London: Sage.  

Kruszelnicki, K. (2002). Dr. Karl’s collection of great Australian facts and firsts. Pymble: Harper Collins.  

Pittock, A. (2009). Climate change: The science, impacts and solutions. Collingwood, Vic: CSIRO Publishing.  

Waller, J. (2004). Fabulous science. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.  

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