The Unit will be presented in 4 broad themes:
1. Life and The Universe: (cosmology, Astronomy and space, Geoscience). What is life? Concepts about the origin of life; Origin of life; Origin of the Universe; Formation of the Solar System; What meteorites tell us.
2. Life and Rocks on Early Earth and Mars: (Astronomy, Geoscience). Formation of the Earth; Early Earth and Mars environments; The first billion years of life.
3. Biology of Life and Habitability (Biology, Astronomy, Chemistry). The environments of the planets; Molecular biology and predictions about the earliest organisms; Biomarkers as proxies for life.
4. Life Elsewhere, SETI: (Astronomy, Chemistry, Astrobiology). The diverse places that life can live (Extremophiles); The chemistry of space; Extra-solar planets; Are we alone (SETI)?
Attend one two hour lecture, and a one hour practical/tutorial each week.
Lecture: 23 Wally’s Walk (W5A) Price Theatre, Thursday 08:00-09:00 and 09:00-10:00. This will usually be two separate lectures, stopping for a 10 min break approximately half way.
Practicals/tutorials: 11 Wally’s Walk (E5A) 220, 6 classes:
1. Wednesday 09:00-10:00 (Practical 01)
2. Wednesday 10:00-11:00 (Practical 04)
3. Thursday 10:00-11:00 (Practical 03)
4. Thursday 11:00-12:00 (Practical 05)
5. Friday 12:00-13:00 (Practical 02)
6. Friday 13:00-14:00 (Practical 06)
Practicals and lectures start in Week 1 (27th February to 3rd March), please come along, it is important to start straight away! Note that this first week of study is the week after O-week (20-24th Feb).
If you enrol late in the unit, you will have already missed one or more lecture and practical/tutorial. It is your responsibility to catch up. Also, you will still be expected to submit all two assignments within the remaining time.
Lectures, availability of lecture material and attendance requirements
It is the policy in this unit that students will normally attend the two hours of lectures per week, and one practical/tutorial, and make their own notes from the lectures. It is expected that many of the lectures will be interactive, with questions and answers throughout. Lectures will be recorded using Echo 360, and files of the lecture graphics will also be made available through iLearn. These will be particularly useful for revision purposes. Many of the practicals/tutorials are assessed, it is important that you attend one of these each week.
This is a 3 credit point unit. It is anticipated that you will spend >9 hours per week involved with the unit, including the 3-hour class contact time per week. It is particularly important that you spend plenty of time preparing the two major assignments
Contacts and communication
Convenor: Professor Simon George
http://Simon.George@mq.edu.au 02 9850 4424 Office: Room 3.29, 3rd Floor, 12 Wally’s Walk (old E7A), Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences (EPS), Macquarie University.
EPS Admin (if Simon George is not available): Rooms 2.07 and 2.22/2.23, 2nd Floor, 12 Wally’s Walk (old E7A), phone 02 9850 8426 or 02 9850 8373.
Other staff teaching on unit and guest lecturers:
A/Prof. Craig O’Neill EPS firstname.lastname@example.org
02 9850 9673 Room 1.07, 12 Wally’s Walk (old E7A).
Prof. Michael Gillings Biological Sciences email@example.com
02 9850 8199 Room 271, 14 Eastern Road (old E8A).
Prof. David Christian Modern History http://firstname.lastname@example.org
02 9850 8769 W6A 406
If sending email, please include GEOS204 in the subject line. We will communicate to you mainly through your student email account/iLearn at Macquarie University. Please make sure you check this email at least weekly.
Set textbook and background reading
Bennett, J, and Shostak, S (2016). Life in the Universe (4th Edition). Pearson Higher Ed, USA. ISBN-9780134080321. In Australia this textbook is only available as an online VitalSource eText.
- This book should be purchased from the Pearson website for $60 from this link: http://www.pearson.com.au/9780134080321
- It is essential that you purchase this book by the end of the second week of semester. Lectures and some practicals refer to sections of this book, many sections of which it will be necessary to read.
- There may be some second hand copies of the 3rd edition (2011) available from past students; apart from different page numbers the content is only a bit out of date (worse in some chapters, such as Exoplanets), so this is an acceptable alternative.
- Also see the booklist on the next 2 pages for other places to obtain information. Note that this is not a “reading list” (i.e., you are certainly not expected to read all these books), nor are most of these books on reserve. The booklist is a resource to help you find information in the library.
- Some individual readings to complement the textbook will be suggested in some of the lectures.
- Astrobiology is an interdisciplinary subject involving aspects of astronomy, cosmology, geoscience, biology and chemistry. Few students (or indeed staff!) have a background in all of these areas, so even if you have done some science units before you must expect to do a lot of extra reading and research to be able to understand all the information that will be presented in the unit. For those students without a science background (e.g. those doing it for “Planet” purposes), this breadth provides you the opportunity to become familiar with several aspects of science over the course of the unit. No prior knowledge of any science will be assumed.
Technologies used and required
Text book (see above)
Access to iLearn for quizzes and unit resources
You will use computers in some practicals/ tutorials
You will need to be able to access books and journal papers in the library
You will be exposed to a variety of materials and concepts in practicals