Exploring the Solar System - 2017

To enrol in this unit, you must be accepted into a course from the provider. Read before you start

Unit summary


  • Level of Study: Postgraduate
  • Study load: 0.125 EFTSL
  • Delivery method: Fully Online
  • Prerequisites: Yes
  • Duration: 13 weeks
  • Government loans available: FEE-HELP
  • Availability for 2016: SP1 , SP3
  • Availability for 2017: SP1 , SP3
  • Assessment: Assignment (30%) , Essay (20%) - Learn more

Unit provided by

2017 Fees
Domestic 2,440.00
Domestic continuing 2,084.00
International 2,690.00
International continuing 2,334.00

2017 Swinburne tuition fees are reduced for continuing postgraduate students.
Please login in to view the applicable amount.

This unit aims to provide an introduction to our solar neighbourhood, including terrestrial planets, giant planets, minor bodies and the Sun. The emphasis is on conceptual astronomy rather than mathematical techniques.

At the completion of this unit students will be able to:

  1. Understand the basic principles of both celestial motion and planetary astronomy, and discuss these concepts in a non-technical manner understandable to the general public
  2. Understand and appreciate night sky observing and celestial phenomena
  3. Understand our place in the solar neighbourhood, especially of the relationship between our present environment on Earth and that of our companions in the Solar System
  4. Understand the social implications of planetary research
  5. Research an astronomy topic in depth, using dependable sources of astronomical information on the internet.
  • Assignment (30%)
  • Essay (20%)
  • Project (30%)
  • Test (20%)

Equivalent units

You cannot enrol in this unit if you have successfully completed any of the following unit(s) because they are considered academically equivalent:

  • HET602 — Exploring the Solar System
  • Broadband access

In order to enrol in this unit, you must be accepted into one of the following courses:

Please visit the course details page and read the Requirements tab for more information about eligibility.

This unit addresses the following topics.

1Observing the night sky, star trails, the planets as wanderers
2Lunar orbit and phases, tidal forces, synchronous rotation
3Modelling the formation of the Solar System
4The Earth: structure, surface geology, atmosphere and magnetic field
5The Moon: interior, lunar surface characteristics and theory of formation
6The terrestrials: Mercury, Venus and Mars; comparative planetary geology
7Planets as habitats and signs of life
8The asteroid belt: properties and evolution
9The giant planets: Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune
10Satellites and planetary rings
11Dwarf planets, Pluto and the Kuiper Belt,
12Comets and the dirty snowball model
13The Sun: structure, nuclear power, solar activity and its effects on Earth

Each unit offered through OUA provides students with unit information that includes assessment topics and due dates, policy information and contact numbers for university support and academic staff. Study materials will also clearly outline each week's topic, readings, student activities and the format of all assessment.

This unit is a core requirement in the following courses:

This unit may be eligible for credit towards other courses:

  1. Many undergraduate courses on offer through OUA include 'open elective' where any OUA unit can be credited to the course. You need to check the Award Requirements on the course page for the number of allowed open electives and any level limitations.
  2. In other cases, the content of this unit might be relevant to a course on offer through OUA or elsewhere. In order to receive credit for this unit in the course you will need to supply the provider institution with a copy of the Unit Profile in the approved format, which you can download here. Note that the Unit Profile is set at the start of the year, and if textbooks change this may not match the Co-Op textbook list.

Textbook information for this unit is currently being updated and will be available soon. Please check back regularly for updates. Alternatively, visit the The Co-op website and enter the unit details to search for available textbooks.

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