This Unit will provide an overview of the multi-disciplinary nature of astrobiology - combining geology, chemistry, biology and astronomy. It will investigate the origins and evolution of life on Earth, the interaction between life and its environment, and the search for life elsewhere in the Solar System and beyond.


Teaching periods
Start and end dates
Last self-enrolment date
Census date
Last withdraw without fail date
Results released date
Study Period 1
Start and end dates
Last self-enrolment date
Census date
Last withdraw without fail date
Results released date

Learning outcomes

Students who successfully complete this unit will be able to:

  • Identify and describe current theories of Solar System formation, the various theories of how life began on Earth and the parallel evolution of life and the environment
  • Discuss and explain how our limited understanding of life influences current searches for life in the Solar System
  • Recognise how astrobiology relates to other sciences
  • Explain basic principles and concepts about the synthesis of complex molecules in a non-technical way understandable to the wider public
  • Use problem solving skills to explain solutions to problems in astrobiology and the origins of life
  • Design and create a research project using credible sources of astronomical information and research articles and/or observational means

Teaching methods


Type Hours per week Number of weeks Total (number of hours)
Learning activities
4.62 13 week 60
Unspecified Activities
Independent Learning
6.92 13 week 90


Type Task Weighting ULO's
NewsgroupsIndividual 20 - 30% 1,2,3,4 
Online TestsIndividual 20 - 30% 1,2,4,5 
ProjectIndividual 40 - 60% 


  • An introduction to astrobiology and its multi-disciplinary nature
  • The early Earth and the rise of life
  • The co-evolution of life and its environments
  • Origin of the Solar System
  • Molecular biology, the tree of life, and the search for the last universal common ancestor
  • The synthesis of complex organic molecules on Earth and in space
  • The possibility of life elsewhere in the Solar System
  • Extrasolar planets, habitability and the signatures of life

Study resources

Reading materials

A list of reading materials and/or required textbooks will be available in the Unit Outline on Canvas.