Courses & Units

Quantitative Methods in Biology KSM309


Quantitative skills are among the basic and fundamental tools of professional ecologists and biologists. They are necessary to design studies, analyse data, and to assess and interpret published studies. This unit provides a solid grounding in appropriate ways to collect and analyse common types of data in biology and ecology at an intermediate level. It emphasises hands-on, practical experience with widely used statistical software and addresses the common problems often encountered in dealing with biological and ecological data. There is close integration of the lecture and practical components of the unit. The unit covers basic sampling and experimental design, data analysis using standard techniques (e.g. analysis of variance and covariance, regression, analysis of categorical data), introduces randomisation techniques, and introduces multivariate techniques for both pattern exploration and hypothesis testing. This unit is strongly recommended for ecology, biology, and environmental science students and those considering Honours. It is suitable for students commencing Masters and PhD studies who do not have a strong quantitative background.


Unit name Quantitative Methods in Biology
Unit code KSM309
Credit points 12.5
College/School College of Sciences and Engineering
Institute for Marine & Antarctic Studies
Discipline College Office - CSE|Ecology and Biodiversity
Coordinator Professor Craig Johnson
Available as an elective? Yes
Delivered By University of Tasmania


Location Study period Attendance options Available to
Hobart Semester 1 On-Campus International Domestic
Launceston Semester 1 On-Campus International Domestic


International students
Domestic students

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Key Dates

Study Period Start date Census date WW date End date
Semester 1 21/2/2022 22/3/2022 11/4/2022 29/5/2022

* The Final WW Date is the final date from which you can withdraw from the unit without academic penalty, however you will still incur a financial liability (refer to How do I withdraw from a unit? for more information).

Unit census dates currently displaying for 2022 are indicative and subject to change. Finalised census dates for 2022 will be available from the 1st October 2021. Note census date cutoff is 11.59pm AEST (AEDT during October to March).

About Census Dates

Learning Outcomes

  • Understand the important features of robust experimental design;
  • Understand the nuances of various kinds of biological and ecological data and the implications of particular data characteristics for analysis and interpretation;
  • Have a strong working knowledge of the R and PRIMER softwares for basic statistical analyses;
  • Be conversant with the application of a range of techniques used commonly in biology and ecology to analyse univariate data, such as ANOVA, ANCOVA, simple and multivariate regression, and logistic and log-linear models and other approaches to categorical data analysis;
  • Be conversant with a range of techniques used commonly in biology and ecology to analyse multivariate data, including principal components analysis, cluster analysis, multidimensional scaling, CAP analyses, DISTLM, PERMANOVA and MANOVA;
  • Understand the strengths and limitations of different approaches to data analysis so that you can communicate results and interpretations clearly and accurately;
  • Approach data analysis and interpretation with confidence.

Fee Information

Field of Education Commencing Student Contribution 1,3 Grandfathered Student Contribution 1,3 Approved Pathway Course Student Contribution 2,3 Domestic Full Fee 4
010901 $1,002.00 $1,002.00 not applicable $2,354.00

1 Please refer to more information on student contribution amounts.
2 Please refer to more information on eligibility and Approved Pathway courses.
3 Please refer to more information on eligibility for HECS-HELP.
4 Please refer to more information on eligibility for FEE-HELP.

If you have any questions in relation to the fees, please contact UConnect or more information is available on StudyAssist.

Please note: international students should refer to What is an indicative Fee? to get an indicative course cost.



Admission into a Masters course OR KPZ163 Ecology or KPZ164 Cell Biology, Genetics and Evolution and KPZ211 Population and Community Ecology


Teaching Pattern

2 x 1-hr lectures, 4-hr practical weekly

AssessmentOpen book exam (65%)|Major practical assignment #1 (15%)|Major practical assignment #2 (15%)|Introductory laboratory exercise (5%)
TimetableView the lecture timetable | View the full unit timetable



There is no compulsory reading for the unit.

However, students will be considerably advantaged by purchasing hard copies of the lecture manual and laboratory manual (available through UniPrint).


The recommended text is Quinn & Keough (2002), but it is not an essential requirement for the unit:

Quinn GP, Keough MK (2002) Experimental design and data analysis for biologists. Cambridge Univ. Press, UK.

Quinn & Keough is one of the most readable and accessible of texts, and it is comprehensive and up-to-date. Above all, it is specifically intended for biologists. For anyone contemplating Honours, or any other form of further study in biology or ecology, this book is strongly recommended.

There is no prescribed reading list. The following is a sample of useful texts and papers that students may find useful to refer to during or after the unit:

Textbooks useful for the univariate component of the course:

Rao, P.V. (1998) Statistical Research Methods in the Life Sciences. Duxbury Press, Brooks/Cole, Pacific Grove, California.

Sokal, R.R. & Rohlf, F.J. (1995) Biometry. 3rd ed. W.H. Freeman and Company, San Francisco, CA, U.S.A.

Steel, R.G.D. & Torrie, J.H. (1980) Principles and Procedures of Statistics: a Biometrical Approach. (2nd edition), McGraw-Hill.

Quinn GP, Keough MK (2002) Experimental design and data analysis for biologists. Cambridge Univ. Press, UK. (NOTE: This is the recommended text for this unit).


Textbooks useful for the multivariate component of the course:

Clifford, H.T. and Stephenson, W. (1975). An introduction to numerical classification.  Academic Press, New York.

Gauch, H.G. (1982).  Multivariate analysis in community ecology.  Cambridge University Press.

Green, R.H. (1979).  Sampling design and statistical methods for environmental biologists.  Wiley, New York.

LinksBooktopia textbook finder

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