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.

No offerings have been identified for this subject in 2021.

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

Indicative Assessment

The following table summarises the assessment tasks for the online offering of ENM123 in Session 2 2020. Please note this is a guide only. Assessment tasks are regularly updated and can also differ to suit the mode of study (online or on campus).

Item Number
Value %
Understanding historic evidence
Evaluating historic evidence
Evaluating archaeological evidence
why should we bother with past environments?

The information contained in the CSU Handbook was accurate at the date of publication: May 2021. The University reserves the right to vary the information at any time without notice.