This information is correct for the Spring, 2023 trip to Kosciuszko.
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Adrienne Nicotra

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Kosciuszko is the 2023 destination for the Field Studies in Functional Ecology courses. This course introduces students to field studies in plant and animal functional ecology. Through directed research projects students explore how diverse organisms respond to conditions in their environments and how these organisms acquire the resources they need to survive, grow and reproduce. Students will develop a range of research skills and gain hands-on experience of how research is conducted in functional ecology.

Interested in participating? Read on.

Participating in trips can be a highlight of your university experience; however, it is also important to think carefully about whether it is the right decision for you at this point in time. This page is to help you understand what the trip involves, so that you can make an informed decision. The information is accurate to the best of our ability; however, please be aware that trip plans can change at the last minute. If this may cause issues for you or you need additional information, please talk to the course convenor.

How we can help you participate

For most of our trips, there are lots of options for flexibility that may make it easier for you to take part. This page will tell you about some of them.  Keep in mind, it is not possible for us to anticipate every individual circumstance, so please contact the course convenor if you have other ideas for how we could help you participate. If you would like support discussing your needs with the course convenor or if your discussion didn't go as you expected, please contact the school accessibility contact.

How to participate?

Students need to apply to enrol in one of the relevant courses and participate in the trip.  Places are limited to 36 due to field accommodation availability. Entry will be merit-based. Applications will open in early August and close at the end of August. Students will be notified of the outcome by mid-September. For more information, please email

If you can't participate

The field trip is the entire course. If you cannot participate, please consider other biology courses.


Activity sites: mountain field sites

We will be visiting a range of mountain field sites throughout the trip. Weather conditions during the trip may vary: potentially hot (>30 °C) and sunny to cold and potentially even snowy. During fieldwork there will be no toilets available, most trips will be on the order of 2-5 hours. You will need to carry your own provisions if you cannot manage this.

Some of our work will be conducted within 100m of the vehicle or lodge, but walks of up to 3 km over uneven terrain are regular occurrences and on one day a full day hike is planned. Students who cannot complete these distances may be able to sit out these activities and contribute to other aspects of the project (e.g processing samples at the lab or using data collected by other students). If you think you may need to do this, please discuss with the course convenor prior to submitting an application.

Students with sensory impairments that impact their ability to identify hazards or follow emergency instructions must discuss this with the course convenor prior to submitting an application so we can investigate ways for you to safely participate. Given the remote location of the trip, it may be challenging to do so: the earlier you talk to us, the more likely we are to find an option that works.

Accommodation: shared rooms

We will be staying in a ski lodge in Charlotte Pass or Perisher Valley. Accommodation will be in en-suite rooms with 2-5 students. Students must provide linens, towels, sleeping bags. Pillows are provided. 

Students will be asked their preference for roommates. If you will function better with a single roommate rather than a room of more people, let the convenor know and we will try to accommodate the request.

Unfortunately, the only available accommodation is not accessible: there are stairs leading to the lodge, bedrooms and bathroom facilities.

Travel: bus 

Travel to Charlotte Pass will be by coach/minibus, organised by the university. The trip takes approximately 3.5 hours, with a break at mid-way to allow students to stretch, use public toilets, and purchase refreshments. We will also travel short distances by ute or minibus to reach field locations during the trip. There will not be opportunity for shopping or travel outside the national park for the duration of the course. 

Food: keeping everyone well fed and happy 

During the trip, students will be assigned to cooking groups and rostered to prepare and clean up morning breakfast and lunches. Each group will cook a couple of times during the course. Menus and guidance will be provided. Dinners will be provided by a caterer.

Most dietary requirements can be accommodated. If you have a very restrictive diet or allergies to the food other people eat, please discuss this with the convenor before applying, so we can investigate the food options available.

Cost: TBC

This field trip cost is in addition to the tuition fee and is used to cover their travel, accommodation and food. Specifics will be available on Programs and Courses closer to the date.

Health & wellbeing

Look after yourself: two weeks in a remote location

Two weeks is a significant time to be away from support networks and students are strongly encouraged to think about how they will manage their physical and mental health while on the trip. Students will be asked to fill out a pre-excursion form and it is very important that you report any existing or potential health issues. This information will assist our first aid officers to support you if you require it. If you need assistance storing equipment or medication, you will need to discuss this before the trip. In addition to emergency situations we may also arrange transport if you need to access medical facilities, however, this cannot easily be arranged for routine issues. Also please be aware that the university's insurance policy does not cover pre-existing conditions.

You will be living and working in close quarters with other students throughout the trip: sharing rooms, working, eating and cooking together. We begin breakfast at 7 am and often there are activities into the evening. The lodge has some WiFi, and mobile reception is available each day but can be patchy. There is a landline on site. If you are concerned you would need a bit of time alone, or regular opportunities for time out please talk to the course convener and we will try to work something out.

Look out for each other: living with a small group in a remote location

You will be working and living alongside a small group of people for a considerable length of time. Students in BIOL3303/6303 also play a role peer mentoring other students. It is essential that you respect the needs of the other members of the group. The staff will work with students to develop strategies for mentoring and working with other group members.

Workload: Long days in the field followed by evening activities

To fully participate, students must have the mental and physical endurance to manage long days in the field.  As an indication, on a typical day, we have breakfast at 7am and begin activities at 8am.  Formal activities usually finish an hour or two before dinner, leaving you with some free time before dinner at 6.  There are some formal activities in the evening.  

There are some options for students to sit out particular activities and complete alternative assignments instead.  If you think you may need to rest during a significant proportion of the trip activities, please discuss the options with the course convener prior to submitting an application.

Clothes: clothes for all weather

A comprehensive packing list will be provided. You will need to pack for sun, rain, sleet and snow. Good quality rain gear is a must. You'll need to dress in layers and be ready to adjust according to the weather, which can change quickly.

Tasks & activities

Observing animals in the field

Data collection will generally involve observations of animals and field experiments. Students with impaired senses may be able to be assisted by other group members, if you think you may require this, please talk to the convenor before submitting an application.

Taking measurements

Students typically work in groups to perform simple measurements in the field.  Students who cannot perform these tasks themselves can use measurements taken by other group members while contributing to the planning and interpretation - please discuss this with the course convenor prior to the trip.

Field presentations and discussions

Students will be listening to content delivered by staff whilst in the field (outside). While collecting field data, students will have to listen, discuss and coordinate with each other as small group. If you think that you may have difficulty doing this, please discuss this with the course convener prior to submitting an application.

Student conference style presentations

During the trip you will give informal presentations to the other students, handover project work to other students and communicate with others throughout the trip.  Students in BIOL2203 will work in groups to prepare a conference style presentation while students in BIOL3303 and BIOL6303 will give individual conference presentations. 

The need to read

Students will complete the background reading and a set of study questions prior to undertaking the course. During the course, BIOL2203 students will be expected to read at least one article related to each project they conduct. BIOL3303 and BIOL6303 students will have a series of article related to their and other students' projects to read during the course.

Field Note Books

During the trip, you will need to keep written field notes to submit as part of the assessment.  This can be done by hand or electronically.  You can also verbally record your observations to write up later - if you think this will be useful for you, please discuss it with the course convener.

Software and Hardware

Students are expected to bring a device (tablet, laptop) on the trip, ideally with a keyboard and USB ports. Devices are used for data entry and analysis as well as research activities.

Executing group projects

BIOL2203 involves students working in groups on a series of semi-independent projects and in BIOL3303/6303 students each are responsible for a project of their own. In both cases, students are guided and supported by tutors throughout the process of designing and carrying out the project. Each student is required to contribute to every stage of the group projects (design, data collection, analysis, interpretation), and to work independently to write up the final report. For BIOL2203, students with difficulties contributing to any phase of the project will have the opportunity to take on more duties in other phases, whereas in BIOL3303/6303 students will work with the convenor to develop a project which they can carry out with a high degree of independence.