ENM123 Past Environments: An Introduction to Historic Ecology (8)

Current global and local ecological processes do not operate in a vacuum, but have been shaped by changes to the environment that occurred over time. During the Holocene and Anthropocene some of these are due to natural climatic fluctuations but most are due to environmental modification caused by human communities. There is an abundance of evidence drawn from sub-fossil deposits, indigenous oral traditions and knowledge, archaeological sites and historic records to reconstruct past environmental conditions and events. The subject takes the student on a trajectory from the deep past to the present (and thus a future past) examining evidence of past environments to understand their relevance for modern ecology and to develop an understanding of the long history of humans as agents of environmental change.


Session 2 (60)
On Campus
Albury-Wodonga Campus
Port Macquarie Campus
Albury-Wodonga Campus

Continuing students should consult the SAL for current offering details: ENM123. Where differences exist between the Handbook and the SAL, the SAL should be taken as containing the correct subject offering details.

Subject Information

Grading System



One session


School of Environmental Sciences

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this subject, students should:
  • be able to examine the sub-fossil, indigenous oral, archaeological and historic record and describe how it forms a valuable cultural and scientific resource to understand present conditions
  • be able to compare and contrast the value and explain limitations of evidence from various data sources provided by the sub-fossil, indigenous oral, archaeological and historic record
  • be able to interpret the role of historic ecology and describe how it influences the understanding of modern ecological conditions
  • be able to discuss the long history of humans as agents of environmental change


This subject will cover the following topics:
  • The Silent Past: the subfossil record
  • Voices of the Past: Indigenous knowledge
  • Science out of Rubbish: The archaeological record
  • Paper Trails: Historic Sources
  • The present as a future past: effects of the Anthropocene


For further information about courses and subjects outlined in the CSU handbook please contact:

Current students

Future students

The information contained in the CSU Handbook was accurate at the date of publication: May 2019. The University reserves the right to vary the information at any time without notice.