Subject details

At the completion of this subject students should be able to:

  1. Identify and describe current theories of Solar System formation, the various theories of how life began on Earth and the parallel evolution of life and the environment
  2. Discuss and explain how our limited understanding of life influences current searches for life in the Solar System
  3. Recognise how astrobiology relates to other sciences
  4. Explain basic principles and concepts about the synthesis of complex molecules in a nontechnical way understandable to the wider public
  5. Use problem solving skills to explain solutions to problems in astrobiology and the origins of life
  6. Design and create a research project using credible sources of astronomical information and research articles and/or observational means.
  • Topics
    • An introduction to astrobiology and its multi-disciplinary nature
    • The early Earth and the rise of life
    • The co-evolution of life and its environments
    • Origin of the Solar System
    • Molecular biology, the tree of life, and the search for the last universal common ancestor
    • The synthesis of complex organic molecules on Earth and in space
    • The possibility of life elsewhere in the Solar System
    • Extrasolar planets, habitability and the signatures of life
  • Study resources
    • Instructional Methods
      • Disscusion forum/Discussion Board
      • Embedded Multimedia
      • Online Quizzes/Tests
      • Online assignment submission
      • Standard Media
      • Web links

Entry Requirements

Equivalent Subjects

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

  • SWI-HET618

You must have successfully completed the following subject(s) before starting this subject:

Special requirements

No special requirements

This subject provides an overview of the multidisciplinary nature of astrobiology - combining geology, chemistry, biology and astronomy. It will investigate the origins and evolution of life on Earth, the interaction between life and its environment, and the search for life elsewhere in the Solar System and beyond. This subject assumes familiarity with Exploring the Solar System and Exploring Stars and the Milky Way.

  • Assignment 1 - Online tests (20%)
  • Assignment 2 - Newsgroups (30%)
  • Assignment 3 - Project (50%)

Textbooks are subject to change within the academic year. Students are advised to purchase their books no earlier than one to two months before the start of a subject

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