ASP1022 - Life in the universe - astrobiology - 2018

6 points, SCA Band 2, 0.125 EFTSL

Undergraduate - Unit

Refer to the specific census and withdrawal dates for the semester(s) in which this unit is offered.



Organisational Unit

School of Physics and Astronomy

Chief examiner(s)

Dr Jasmina Lazendic-Galloway


Dr Jasmina Lazendic-Galloway

Unit guides



  • Second semester 2018 (On-campus)


No formal background in astronomy or astrophysics is required.


This unit focuses on understanding astronomical, geological, chemical, biological and technological conditions necessary for primitive and intelligent life. The topics covered include: stellar and planetary formation, dynamics of planetary orbits, detection and properties of extrasolar planets, habitability, chemical and biological characteristics of life, how life first appeared on the Earth and how life depends on energy from the stars, probabilities of life forming on other planets, artificial life and artificial intelligence, interstellar travel and colonisation, the fate of the Universe and the implications for any life present.


On completion of this unit students will be able to:

  1. Explain modern theories of stellar and planetary formation and evolution
  2. Compare properties of our Solar system to that of extrasolar planetary systems
  3. Describe the necessary conditions for life and how species evolve
  4. Debate how development of life is dependent on the conditions in the physical universe
  5. Theorise on the possibilities of other life forms, interstellar communication and interstellar travel.


Examination (2 hours): 40%

Workshops: 30% (Hurdle)

Assignments: 30%

Hurdle requirement: Student must pass achieve a pass mark in the workshops to achieve an overall pass grade.

Workload requirements

The workload to achieve the learning outcomes for this unit is 144 hours spread across the semester (roughly 12 hours per week) - approximately an even mixture of attendance at scheduled activities and self-scheduled study time. Learning activities comprise a mixture of instructor directed, peer directed and self-directed learning, which includes face-to-face and online engagement.

See also Unit timetable information

This unit applies to the following area(s) of study