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ID1006   Astrobiology: The Search for Life in the Universe

Academic year(s): 2018-2019

Key information

SCOTCAT credits : 20

ECTS credits : 10

Level : SCQF Level 7

Semester: 2

Planned timetable: 1.00 pm

This module aims to lead students through the scientific quest for the origin of life on Earth and the prospect for finding life on other planets, both in our solar system and on habitable worlds elsewhere in the Galaxy. The course will cover diverse topics in biology, geology, astronomy and chemistry, which comprise the field of astrobiology. We will also discuss the societal implication of detecting life outside Earth. The course will start by studying the origins and evolution of life on Earth and will use this as a framework for how to search for life in our Solar System and beyond. Due to the wide range of scientific topics covered, the course will be suitable for non-science majors as well as those in the sciences. A key component of the course will be to examine science as a way of knowing by looking at the scientific process, how scientific theories are developed and refuted, and discuss the burden of proof for extraordinary claims.

Learning and teaching methods and delivery

Weekly contact: Lectures (2 hours x 11 weeks) Practical sessions (1 hour x 11 weeks) Oral presentation (3 hours x 3 weeks)

Scheduled learning hours: 42

Guided independent study hours: 158

Assessment pattern

As used by St Andrews: 2-hour Written Examination = 50%, Coursework = 50%

As defined by QAA
Written examinations : 50%
Practical examinations : 0%
Coursework: 50%

Re-assessment: 2-hour Written Examination = 80%, Coursework = 20%


Module coordinator: Dr M Claire
Module teaching staff: Dr A Macartney, Dr M Claire and Dr S Rugheimer