PLANT SC 2510WT - Foundations in Plant Science

Waite Campus - Semester 1 - 2014

This course provides an introduction to the structure and function of plants with a specific focus on plants of agricultural and horticultural importance, but may also include native species when appropriate. Attention will be given to how plants respond and adapt to their environment and the consequences of these interactions to productivity and quality. The link between an understanding of plant science and the management of plants will be highlighted.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code PLANT SC 2510WT
    Course Foundations in Plant Science
    Coordinating Unit School of Agriculture, Food and Wine
    Term Semester 1
    Level Undergraduate
    Location/s Waite Campus
    Units 3
    Contact Up to 6 hours per week
    Prerequisites BIOLOGY 1101 or BIOLOGY 1202
    Incompatible ENV BIOL 2500
    Course Description This course provides an introduction to the structure and function of plants with a specific focus on plants of agricultural and horticultural importance, but may also include native species when appropriate. Attention will be given to how plants respond and adapt to their environment and the consequences of these interactions to productivity and quality. The link between an understanding of plant science and the management of plants will be highlighted.
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Dr Beth Loveys

    Course Timetable

    The full timetable of all activities for this course can be accessed from Course Planner.

  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes
    1 Develop a basic understanding of photosynthesis and the environmental controls of photosynthetic rates
    2 Have an understanding of the factors that determine water use efficiency
    3 Have a basic understanding of how plants acquire, transport and use mineral nutrients
    4 Be able to describe characteristics of important nutrient disorders
    5 Be able to describe the life cycle of plants and of some of the important environmental controls of growth and development
    6 Understand the role of plant hormones in growth and developmenUnderstand the basic anatomy of plants as it relates to the physiology of water and nutrient transport and photosynthesis
    7 Have a basic understanding of the physiological responses to mycorrhizal infection and rhizobium symbiosis
    8 Be able to design and manage a simple experiment and to analyse and present the data clearly
    University Graduate Attributes

    This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attribute(s) specified below:

    University Graduate Attribute Course Learning Outcome(s)
    Knowledge and understanding of the content and techniques of a chosen discipline at advanced levels that are internationally recognised. 1-7
    The ability to locate, analyse, evaluate and synthesise information from a wide variety of sources in a planned and timely manner. 8
    An ability to apply effective, creative and innovative solutions, both independently and cooperatively, to current and future problems. 8
    Skills of a high order in interpersonal understanding, teamwork and communication. 8
    A proficiency in the appropriate use of contemporary technologies. 1-8
  • Learning Resources
    Required Resources
    There is no single textbook that is used for the course but the ones listed below are useful reference books:

    Taiz L, Zeiger E (2010) Plant physiology. (Sinauer Associates Inc.: Sunderland, Massachusetts).  [additional on-line material is found at]

    Atwell B Kriedemann P, Turnbull C (1999) Plant in Action: Adaptation in Nature; Performance in Cultivation (MacMillan Education Australia: Melbourne) [available online at:]

    Lambers H, Pons TL, Chapin FS (2008). Plant Physiological Ecology (Springer: New York) [available as an e-book through the library catalogue]

    Marschner H (1995) (2nd edition) Mineral nutrition of plants. Academic Press; London.

    A useful website on abiotic stress (salt, drought, heat, frost, mineral nutrient stress) is:  Plant stress:

    You may also find the following website useful for preliminary information on some aspects of plant science:

    A useful iPad App that will help you to study for the plant anatomy pracs is ‘Plant Histology’ ($4.99 from iTunes).

    Communication and report writing

    Cargill M and Bellotti M (2004) Written Communication in the Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences, The University of Adelaide.

    Visit to see how to write reports
    Online Learning
    Foundations in Plant Sciences uses MyUni as the primary route of commumication with students. Announcements will be posted to alert students of any changes to course timetable and information about assessment items. TURNITIN is also used for the submission of assignments.

    Online tests within MyUni are also used to assess students knowledge after practical classes.
  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes
    The course is delivered using lectures, practials and tutorials.

    Lectures: 2 hours per week for 10 weeks

    Practicals: 4 hours per week for 9 weeks

    Tutorials: 1 hour per week for 5 weeks

    The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.

    The contact time for Foundations in Plant Science is 6 hours per week. It is expected that a student will spend a further 6 hours outside of this contact time preparing for the next weeks classes, revising the previous weeks material and preparing reports for assessment.
    Learning Activities Summary
    The course is made up of lectures, tutorials, practicals and a small group discovery experience in the form of a research project.

    Tutorials are timetabled to either prepare students for project work or revise material covered in previous practical classes.

    The five set practicals through the semester give students the opportunity to learn new laboratory skills and gain exposure to the types of measurements commonly performed in plant science research. The skills learnt in the set practicals can then be used by the students in their research projects.

    Students gain experience in presenting their work in the form of reports, laboratory note books, online wiki and oral presentation.

    Lecture schedule
    Week 1 Productivity and photosynthesis
    Week 2 Adelaide cup holidays
    Week 3 Photosynthesis
    Week 4 Water use
    Week 5 Nutrient uptake and use efficiency
    Week 6 Nutrient uptake and use efficiency
    Week 7 Drought and salinity case studies
    Week 8 Plant development and phenology
    Week 9 Plant development and phenology
    Week 10 Biotic interactions
    Week 11 Biotic interactions
    Week 12 Case studies
    Practical schedule
    Week 1 Plant anatomy
    Week 2 Adelaide Cup holiday
    Week 3 Plant water status
    Week 4 Effect of herbicides
    Week 5 Potassium uptake mechanisms
    Week 6 Project set up
    Week 7 Project data collection
    Week 8 Project data collection
    Week 9 Project data collection
    Week 10 Nitrogen fixation in legumes
    Week 11
    Week 12 Group presentations
    Small Group Discovery Experience
    The Small Group Discovery Experience in Foundation in Plant Science takes the form of a group research project. Groups of 5-6 students are asked to select a research area from a variety of options. The project topics varies from year to year depending on the availablity and research areas of staff involved. Topics offered may be:

    Plant hormones, growth and development
    Phosphorus nutrition
    Legume nitrogen fixation
    Water logging tolerance
    Extreme soil pH and aluminium toxicity

    Students work together with a mentor to design a novel research question. They are then given time to develop an experimental design to help answer their research question. Feedback from their mentor will help to refine their experimenal plan and design. The students are provided with plant material and equiment to undertake their experiment over a four week period. A scientific report is generated collaboratively by way of a Wiki on MyUni. At the conclusion of their experiment the students must analyse their data and present it to the rest of class by way of a seminar.
  • Assessment

    The University's policy on Assessment for Coursework Programs is based on the following four principles:

    1. Assessment must encourage and reinforce learning.
    2. Assessment must enable robust and fair judgements about student performance.
    3. Assessment practices must be fair and equitable to students and give them the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned.
    4. Assessment must maintain academic standards.

    Assessment Summary
    Assessment Task Task Type Due Weighting Learning Outcome
    Practical report on potassium uptake mechanisms Formative and Summative

    28th April

    10% 3
    Practical exams Formative and Summative throughout semester 20% 1,2,3,7
    Laboratory notebook Formative and Summative 3rd June 5% 1,2,3,7,9
    Group research project Formative and Summative throughout semester 20% 9
    Final examination Summative TBA 45% 1-8
    Assessment Detail

    No information currently available.


    No information currently available.

    Course Grading

    Grades for your performance in this course will be awarded in accordance with the following scheme:

    M10 (Coursework Mark Scheme)
    Grade Mark Description
    FNS   Fail No Submission
    F 1-49 Fail
    P 50-64 Pass
    C 65-74 Credit
    D 75-84 Distinction
    HD 85-100 High Distinction
    CN   Continuing
    NFE   No Formal Examination
    RP   Result Pending

    Further details of the grades/results can be obtained from Examinations.

    Grade Descriptors are available which provide a general guide to the standard of work that is expected at each grade level. More information at Assessment for Coursework Programs.

    Final results for this course will be made available through Access Adelaide.

  • Student Feedback

    The University places a high priority on approaches to learning and teaching that enhance the student experience. Feedback is sought from students in a variety of ways including on-going engagement with staff, the use of online discussion boards and the use of Student Experience of Learning and Teaching (SELT) surveys as well as GOS surveys and Program reviews.

    SELTs are an important source of information to inform individual teaching practice, decisions about teaching duties, and course and program curriculum design. They enable the University to assess how effectively its learning environments and teaching practices facilitate student engagement and learning outcomes. Under the current SELT Policy ( course SELTs are mandated and must be conducted at the conclusion of each term/semester/trimester for every course offering. Feedback on issues raised through course SELT surveys is made available to enrolled students through various resources (e.g. MyUni). In addition aggregated course SELT data is available.

  • Student Support
  • Policies & Guidelines
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