Astrobiology: Life in the Universe - BABS6741

Faculty: Faculty of Science

School: School of Biotechnology and Biomolecular Science

Course Outline:

Campus: Kensington Campus

Career: Undergraduate

Units of Credit: 6

EFTSL: 0.12500 (more info)

Indicative Contact Hours per Week: 3

Enrolment Requirements:

Prerequisite: 30UOC of Science courses completed

CSS Contribution Charge: 2 (more info)

Tuition Fee: See Tuition Fee Schedule

Further Information: See Class Timetable

View course information for previous years.


Astrobiology is the study of life in the Universe and the chemistry, physics, and adaptations that influence its origin, evolution and destiny. It is an interdisciplinary science encompassing aspects of biology, chemistry, geology and astronomy.

The course format includes lectures from specialists in these fields, video presentations and a virtual laboratory exercise developed specifically for this course using adaptive e-learning technology.

Through these media, students will attempt to define life, learn how life is strongly coupled with its environment, how evidence of life can be found in the geological record on Earth, the oxygenation of the Earth, how evolution is demonstrated, and why the search for evidence of extraterrestrial life - whether microbial or intelligent - is important to our understanding of our place in space.

Lecture topics will cover the origin of life and its philosophical implications, extremophiles, the tree of life, fossil records, the history and evolution of Earth and its biosphere, the interactions of life and its environment, the bid to find Earth-like extra-solar planets, planetary and galactic habitable zones, searching for life on Mars and beyond, and more.

Practical work will include set readings, essays, a virtual laboratory exercise, a short presentation on a small research project, and tutorials.

Students from all disciplines are encouraged to consider this course providing they have completed 30 credit points in science; in exceptional circumstances other students will be admitted at the discretion of the course convenor. Although there are no prerequisites for this course students may find it helpful to also consider PHYS 1160, Life in the Universe, at second level.

Assumed Knowledge: Basic knowledge of biology, astronomy or geology.

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