SCI2400 - From Galileo to GPS: How astronomy shapes our lives - 2019

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



  • Winter semester 2019 (On-campus)


At least 18 points of level 1 units




This unit presents an insight into how science contributes to the development of a society through the eyes of astronomy. The unit uses some of the key astronomical discoveries to demonstrate a complex interaction between pursuing scientific knowledge and how such discoveries influence our society. We will start with the discoveries of Galileo Galilei in early 17th century and how they were influenced by the historical and cultural setting nurtured by the Medici and Lorraine families, the founders and rulers of Tuscany. We will then explore how the development of instrumentation for experimental demonstrations in the 18th century, such as planetariums, were used to popularize science among the public. We will then fast forward to the 21st century and tap into astronomy topics for which new telescopes, such as the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) and the advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO), are still being constructed. The activities will be delivered through visits to museums and observatories, classroom discussions and research-based activities. Students will develop awareness of how scientific discoveries are created and propagated in an internationalised world.


On completion of this unit students will be able to:

  1. Discuss the development of some of the key astronomical discoveries
  2. Discuss the importance of science to the human endeavour
  3. Demonstrate research skills in an international cultural context;
  4. Demonstrate oral and written skills, and construct evidence-based arguments through a collaborative project
  5. Demonstrate an ability to work productively in an interdisciplinary team with other students.


Whole day pre-departure team building exercise: 5%

Assignments: 45%

Project: 40%

Project presentation: 10%

Hurdle requirement: To pass this unit a student must achieve a minimum score of 40% in each assessment task and at least an overall unit mark of 50%.

Workload requirements

Minimum total expected workload equals 48 hours per week over a 3 week period, comprising 18 hours lectures and discussions, 48 hours organised field trips and excursions and 78 hours of independent study.

See also Unit timetable information